Riding the loops at the Goose

My dentist seems to have the perfect temperament for his job. He’s pleasant, cheerful, and apparently does not tire of routine. He’s a fly fisherman, so we chat about fishing while he runs sharp metal tools over my teeth.

There are two main rivers that people fish around Salt Lake City, the Provo and the Weber. They each have pros and cons, but both are easily accessible and heavily used as local go-to fishing spots. My dentist fishes the Weber because “he has his spots and knows right where to go.” Apparently in his decades of fly fishing he has only fished the Provo a couple of times, because he wasn’t sure where to go. And he never fishes any of the smaller rivers, streams, or creeks in the surrounding mountains. Once a year he goes to a lodge in Wyoming or Montana and fishes with the guides there. I envy his ability to find so much satisfaction in the familiar.

While there are many, many places worth visiting and revisiting, there are always places not yet visited. When I open the pages of an atlas I get itchy to see where those dashed red lines go, what kind of view they will reveal and how they all fit together.

Even with my adventure-lust, though, there are a few places that are simply perfect and fill an emotional need. RK and I figure we have camped on Gooseberry Mesa a couple of dozen times and ridden certain sections of trail in the hundreds of times. It’s no secret that its a fun place to mountain bike, at least not anymore. For us it is the style of biking, the camping, the views, the unpredictable weather, the complete package of the place.

We have camped there in perfect weather as well as snow and snain, been towed off the notoriously slimy clay road, experienced every flavor of wind the goose can offer (a lot), we have watched the campsites widen, and the trails change with erosion and carelessness (but not as much as you might think). I can introduce you to cacti and bushes I’ve landed on. We gave names to potholes that often hold water for the dogs.

When we first started going to the goose, we ventured off the mesa to ride other nearby trails. None of them were as challenging and fun to us, so pretty quickly we didn’t even bother. We would spend 3-4 days riding the loops on the goose in all different directions and combinations, drink cocktails in our camp chairs watching sunsets on the red and white cliffs of Zion National Park, and leave completely satisfied.

There are so many places to visit and explore that a place has to have some extra resonance to choose to go there multiple times, let alone dozens of times. Why is the top of a particular mesa more fun than another? Or a river valley more peaceful? The only way to know is to go there and find out.

Laurel Hunter

Laurel Hunter

Central Oregon, USA