On the other side of the Virgin River are a bunch of trails designed both for hikers and bikers. Framed to the east by the Hurricane Cliffs, the sage brush filled desert offers dispersed camping, long trails that start at base elevations and inevitably wind up along the cliffs. Hurricane Cliffs start/end just north of the Grand Canyon and head in a northeasterly track for some 135 miles and end north of Cedar City. They are a spectacular series of cliffs, soaring towers and beautiful mesas all etched in hues of green and red typical of the geology of this part of the world.
We started one hike on Crytobionic Trail, an ominous sounding trail, which in turn hooked up with Goosebumps. On a one dimensional trail map they look benign, but the names lend credence to the moderate to difficult designations the trails get. We started at the Sheep Bridge Trailhead, pretty much in the flat of the desert and headed towards the cliffs.
We hiked for about a mile along the desert until we got closer to the mountain and then started our elevation gain.
The trail wound along the base of the cliffs and then hooked up with Goosebumps, most likely named for the bikers benefit as there were some serious descents.
The next hike involved two more trails, with the trailhead actually halfway up the cliffs and accessible by car. Jem to Deadringer. Ok! We were up for this one!
It’s hard to convey the steepness of the trails in some parts, and these two were single track trails for bikers and one-way on Jem, a little confusing as Deadringer was truly a single track with a lot of blind curves.
This is the climb out of the desert floor to the mesa where Deadringer hooks up with More Cowbell Trail, a two and a half mile trail along a mesa that contours the cliffs and offers beautiful views of the valley.
There is actually a bell there – bikers who practice the More Cowbell loop gain the confidence to tackle Deadringer, and hikers celebrate completing the loop as well. Additionally, bikers heading down Deadringer ring the bell loudly and authoritatively to announce to the bikers coming up that they are on the way down. There weren’t a lot of bikers out that morning, but 90% of the trail is single track and some of these yahoos were flying down.
There were a ton of wildflowers out still near the cliffs mostly in the desert but we did see some along the steeper trails. The Prickly Pear Cactus in bloom is gorgeous, radiant in contrast to the reddish desert floor with its vibrant almost scarlet flowers.
Indian Paintbrush also contrasts beautifully with the desert and especially when clumped around the sagebrush so prolific around here.
So I have one more recipe from our family gathering those many years ago. Carnivores we are, with class I add, all things meat and served with delicious sides that by force of presentation take a sidemeat to the main spectacle. However, there was one, or two, among us who took exception to the feudal way we prepared most of the meals. Andrew, son to brother Ian and father of three delightful daughters and husband to Chris offered up a meal that was truly vegan – 100%. I mean it has to be 100% vegan or you ain’t truly vegan. I suspect that the collective mood among most of the event goers probably looked at the forthcoming meal with the same amount of disdain that Andrew and his family looked on our meat (and fish) offerings. But I have to tell you, this opened my eyes – my first truly vegan meal – and I have added numerous vegan recipes to my cache. But this one remains special, much like the first person you ever kissed. If you add the eggs as a garnish you now get a vegetarian version, but I have always made it without the eggs. True to you Andrew!