The Whole Enchilada is a trail in Moab that starts high in the La Sal Mountains and ends 4,000 feet below in the canyon along the Colorado River. A few of us finally scheduled a weekend to tackle the enchilada, but due to recent snow we couldn’t start from the very top. Instead we started a few miles below the trailhead and rode the remaining 20 miles. So rather than officially getting The Whole Enchilada, we got the half-eaten enchilada…which is exactly how I leave my plate at mexican restaurants.
We arrived in the Moab area around 4pm on a Friday…and it being October…we were fighting every other Coloradan for a campsite. We hit all our usual spots first. It was like those kids in Forrest Gump, “seats taken.” As we rolled through the campgrounds I could see what they were saying with their eyes: “can’t camp here.” Sometimes you can see the pity in other campers eyes: “aww poor saps…good luck gals.”
After the usuals, we drove out to some outskirt sites on the other end of town. People were gobbling up every spot of legal camping ground available, diving on it like it was the last bite of food for days. As we approached 2 hours in to the hunt, the competition grew. An older couple snagged the last spot up Kane Creek just seconds before us. I even saw the guy mark the spot like a dog then kick the dirt around to make his point. Ok that didn’t really happen. But it was that serious for sure.
Finally we drove up to a slightly secret area that I’ve always had good luck with. It’s got a great view and it’s FREE…which is a very rare word around that area. As we drove along the highway, approaching the unsigned dirt road that led to our last hope, we saw a Subaru ahead of us that was clearly on the same desperate hunt. We were alarmed…what if they get the last spot? They slowed, spotted the dirt road…..but missed the turn! Here was our chance, “Carrie punch it!” we yelled as the Subaru turned around. We flew down the dirt road, letting the Subaru eat our dust. Hey it’s every man for themselves here. We reached the secret camping area and thankfully found several open. So we snagged a great spot and were also glad that the Subaru folks got a spot too.
Sunrise over the La Sals the next morning
As Carrie puts it, we slept “like the cowboys” out under the stars…actually under a huge moon. I wore my headband like a blindfold to sleep.
We took a shuttle to the trailhead with a bunch of smelly guys that were already 2-3 days into Moab with no showers. I was shoved in the back where the van had extra bounce and the air was extra ripe. Hello nausea. Being green is not the best way to start a ride. But the view made up for it!
This ride launches you immediately down the mountain, shooting through colorful aspen groves. I got up close and personal with one particular aspen, hitting it with my right handlebar. A great Superman impression (if I do say so myself) immediately followed. Thankfully nothing hurt and I went and found Carrie and Emily who were wondering what happened. I swear, whenever I wear my knee pads that just guarantees I’ll crash. Crash #1
Me and Em before leaving the mountains behind
The trail flirts with the edge of Castle Valley at least a dozen times. So at least 12 times I held my breath and everything puckered until I passed the death zone.
Narrowly-avoided crash #1 involved me not seeing a 3 foot drop, riding through and punching myself in the stomach with my handlebars. I did avoid the front flip though. Had there been gum in my mouth, I estimate it would have flown at least 15 yards.
Carrie enjoying one of the 10,000 ledges on Porcupine Rim
If you look close you can see what we’ll call Emily’s “YIPES” face
Riding along in the wonderful shade on Porcupine Rim
Crash #2 saw a part of my body, located in the northern region and of which there are two, colliding with a large tree branch. Owweeee.
Anyhow, it was a great ride and I’d love to come back next spring to ride The WHOLE Enchilada!