My Experience on the Whole Enchilada

By | Noah Ferriera
August 2018

When I arrived in Moab I was fairly bedraggled but nonetheless excited by the density of possibility the area offers. Among the mountains and mesas there lies a sprawling network of world-class bike trails and climbing areas. Out of all the trails in Moab–infamous and otherwise–one stood out as a grand challenge that had been on my radar for quite some time. Many lists denoting “The best bike trails in the world” cite the Whole Enchilada as number one .As I explored the land and found my way into the community I found myself declaring my intent to ride the trail, but I kept putting it off for one reason or another, from prior engagements to mechanical issues.

As my 21st birthday approached I was harkened back to past birthdays, upon which I had always managed some grand backcountry misadventure. Wishing to uphold the tradition I decided that the time had come, and that no further delay could be afforded amidst something so fleeting as life.

I made the arrangements to embark the morning of the 27th of June, my birthday being the following day. Not fully knowing what I was in for, I planned to meet some friends at the Dakota Crags on the way up Geyser Pass in order to replenish my water and camp out together.

Setting out, I was initially very motivated to cover ground and gain elevation, the smooth gravel of sand flats road crunching merrily under tire as my favorite tunes resounded in my head phones. Before long the sun creeped higher in the sky, baking my shoulders to a beetroot red and instantly drying what little sweat my body could produce, despite voraciously chugging water. From the scope of dehydrated hysteria I attempted a shortcut in the form of singletrack that turned out to be quite the longcut. The day continued much in this fashion until, seven brutal hours later, I cleared the last major switchback of Geyser pass where the cars of my companions were parked. I locked my bike to a tree and hiked down to the crag where corn chips and vodka awaited me.

Some strained climbing soon gave way to lazy respite as the sun finally kissed the horizon and set the sky ablaze, at which point we made camp at moonlight meadows to watch the full moon rise over the tree line.

A night of deep sleep soon gave way to the promise of adventure, my very soul bristling with giddiness. On the morning of my 21st birthday I put rubber to trail, burdened by my quest for glory. The combination of elevation and residual fatigue severely hampered the first push up Burro Pass to just over 11,000 feet in elevation. As I reached the top I was wheezing with effort but smiling nonetheless. Sitting on top of a 7000 ft descent, grips in hand and pedals under foot, I was overcome by the vastness of the world and the comparative microscopicity of myself. I took a deep breath, smelling the dirt and reveling in the moment. I pushed into the pedals with the weight of eternity, loam spraying out in every direction as I carved my way down the mountain.

It wasn't long before the raw stoke was interrupted by an extremely concerning series of noises from the rear of my bike. Upon inspection, I discovered that my rack had entirely snapped off, held on only by voilet straps and dragging on the tire, so I pulled over and figured out how to strap the carnage to my bag. Moments later I was moving as if it was all I had ever done, tight aspens eventually giving way to open meadows and herds of cattle.

As fun and exciting as the day was thus far, the fatigue caught up and thoroughly altered my mindset. As my arms and feet throbbed from repetitive high impacts, the foliage turned to parched desert, and my water ran low. All this coupled with the energy sapping heat had me concerned moreso with returning to a water source in a timely fashion. What normally would have been intimidating ledge drops were now an opportunity to unweight my weary body, chunky alternate lines were simply the path of least resistance. I found my rhythm and methodically devoured mile after mile of intensely technical terrain, tallying a total of three pinch flats.

Finally, as I was running on fumes, I saw the trail wrap around the mesa towards the mighty Colorado river. With the promise of relief in my sights I doubled my resolve and pushed on through the rest of porcupine rim, and finally down to the water where I wet my shirt and washed my face.

A quick jaunt down the road brought me to Matrimony Springs, where I topped off every vessel in my possession with life giving water, then back to town where I strolled into the Rio for my first legal beer, to be sipped with retrospection and grand satisfaction.


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Interested in contributing to The Dust Magazine? Check out our submissions page.