Sunday, March 10, 2024

BCT Back Canyon Trail North of Black Canyon City



I exclaim every time I go near that....THAT CURSED river!   Why? you ask.

Well let me tell ya a story;

To tell the truth 90% of the ride was fine and dandy.  Uneventful lets say.  
If you're like me, you like loops as opposed to out and backs.  So I started in Black Canyon City and took the Maggie Mine gravel road to Crown King Gravel road, Past Bumble Bee almost to Cordes before pointing south off of Antelope Creek road onto the BCT, the Black Canyon Trail.  Now a gravel road is well, a gravel road and not that damn interesting and 25 miles of it gets old, so maybe an out and back would be better.  The BCT itself was mostly fun well executed single track and miles and miles of it so it was very nice.  Not too polished or buff, not to gnarly.  I have to say, that I am also not a fan of shuttles, I believe you should earn your descents, but this trail is a definite candidate for shuttling.

Now all would have been well and good, except for one almost fatal flaw in my judgement.  This trail had been so well built for 25 miles I assumed it would continue that way back to the trail head and I would make it back before dark. If only I had ended at Soap creak and took the road back to the trail head (insert shaking my head emoji) 

The first 50 miles took like 6 and a half hours (6 rolling) that last 8 miles extricating myself in the failing light took almost 3 hours (only 1.5 rolling). 

So I continue on, in my ignorant bliss.  The trail gets a little less buff, less well marked and more fire roadie.  "Did I miss that last marker?" Lets check my down loaded track. "Glad I down loaded this area before losing cell coverage."  "Looks like I'm still on course." I come to a fork and it seems I should go left, but there is no marker, "What's the harm in a little adventuring, Right?"  So down the hill I go, to wide area along the river. With no discernable trail. The river is raging.  I see a house on the other side of the river, it's lights pointing out that dusk is settling in.  No bridge across and no way out but the way I came down.  Check the GPS again.  I am off the purple line.  Must have been the right at the fork.

Now I should have turned back then and there....

No not me, I carry on, even find a bit of trail and a marker, all be it ambiguous.  It leads back to the river Further upstream, I think, I see MTB tire and cycling shoe tracks Heading up what may sometimes be a water fall.  And I am dead on the purple line, man.  I climb up and see some down trees across a raging river.  There was no way I was risking that in the near dark, with not guarantee that I would have to come back across in even less light!

I had to turn back and make the most of what twilight was left.

I was making my way back at a reasonable clip when total darkness fell.  I pulled out my phone and rode by its flash light, at a much reduces pace.  That only lasted so long before I was in the dark again and almost going off the trail in a not so forgiving spot.  

So Hike-A-Bike it would be... 

...At long last I emerged onto the last fire road that I had crossed.  I could see a very bright light, perhaps over a school athletic field or municipal building.  I plipped back in and started down the fire road, navigating as if by Braille, butt further off the back than probably necessary, keeping the front wheel light in case of an unforeseen pothole.  The whole time ready to react to whatever force that was transmitted from the front wheel, up the fork through the stem into the handlebars.

Then a sigh of relief as I glide onto a concrete wash crossing now visible in alternating shadow and dim light.  Wait what's that ahead Head lights.  Great! meet at an intersection, they turn left in front of me and I scurry to get behind and use their beams to help me scan the road for trouble.  Soon I was back in civilization and back to the car.  

Pressed the I'm OK button on my Spot tracking device, letting the wife know I was alive, if not long over due.  Plugged in the phone and got into dry clothes.  Started home the 2 hour drive.  Another one in the books.

Failure list.
Not starting at the crack-O-dawn.
No light for the night portion of the ride, unexpected though it may have been.
Assuming that the trail was stayed as nice as beginning.
Not researching that water crossing. 


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