This Sunday morning I decided to take the mountain bike out for a rather brief ride on a nice piece of singletrack trail just above Salt Lake City called Alexander Creek. After sleeping in a little longer than I'd hoped to, I left the house at around 9:30. Due to Indian Summer conditions, the temperature was a little on the warm side for the 19th of September at 6,000 feet, but pretty comfortable nonetheless. I hadn't ridden this trail since last fall so it had been a year since I set tire to it.
A half mile from the trailhead, the skinny singletrack trail slips quietly behind a steep hillside that shields it from the golf course I'd been riding along and the rumble of Interstate 80. I can never wait to slip behind that hill. Suddenly, only the sound of my breath, the quiet hum of knobby tires, the smooth sound of a well oiled chain, and numerous bird calls broke the silence.
A short distance later, I noticed an animal bone or two along the side of the trail and it reminded me of the large moose that found it's final resting place alongside this trail several years ago. I looked for it's pile of bones as I rode by the spot where it lay, but it's been a year or two and it seems to have finally returned to the earth. Perhaps the couple of bones I saw a short distance back on the opposite side of the trail belonged to the same animal. For two summers I'd hold my breath as I rode by it's remains due to the overwhelming stench. With high brush closing in on both sides of the trail and a creek nearby, it was always a little eerie to ride by it's carcass and wonder if there was a mountain lion nearby. I'm sure the coyote pack I've come face to face with on this trail enjoyed the gift of that huge animal. The only smell today was the perfect aroma of the fall morning air.
Not far beyond, many maple trees were glowing in the early sun. The brilliance of the color surprised me. I expected to see some color, but not the full kaleidoscope of red, yellow, orange, and green against a perfectly blue sky. The photos I snapped with my phone just don't capture the beauty. Photos rarely can. Soon enough, I began to hit the short steep climbs that come at you one by one on this trail. I felt good, each one fell away with ease and before I knew it, I was at my chosen turnaround point. I decided to go a little further and stopped a half mile later to turnaround.
My wife had a couple of free tickets to a big time skateboard and bmx contest in downtown Salt Lake City early that afternoon so I reluctantly pointed the old iron horse downhill into a stiffening uphill breeze. I'm not a big skateboard fan or anything, but we had never seen a skateboard event and the already legendary skateboard and snowboard phenom, and part time local, Shawn White, was competing. As a side note, The "Flying Tomato", with his very long bright red hair waving, won the vertical ramp finals in dominating fashion. It's hard to believe what these guys can do on a skateboard. He clinched the win with a couple of super clean, and difficult, runs capped by his latest crazy move, the armadillo. You have to love it. I've been known to take a snowboard out between telemark ski outings so it was great to see him take the win.
Digressing back to the downhill ride, it's a very fast one, if you want it to be. Those steep little hills encountered on the way up can launch you up to mach speed in no time. I flew down the trail as blazing maples blurred by in my peripheral vision, keeping my eyes glued to the narrow singletrack a few feet in front of my wheel, hopping off of a few bumps here and there. In a fraction of the time it took to climb up, I was back at the trailhead. It's fall in the Wasatch Range.