Jason Fenton owns Halter's Cycles in Monmouth, New Jersey, a bike shop that opened in 1987 and admittedly stocks way more rigs than they need to so that customers have plenty of options. Since 2004, Fenton has been building and maintaining the trails at Six Mile Run Reservoir so that he and others have a good place nearby to ride. For an hour or so a day, he chainsaws and digs and rakes to bring an extra second or two of improved riding to his region. The above video by Adam Nawrot tells his story.
Sunset/moonrise over Canyon de Chelly. Photo: Katie Arnold
[This is the third in a series about roadtripping around the Southwest. Read parts I and II here.]
On our first morning in Chinle, I woke full of hope for Canyon de Chelly. We’d slept deeply in the Thunderbird Lodge, and it was one of those glittery late fall days in the high desert, when the air is so clear and dry it makes everything look sharper, more angular. Out in the parking lot, the Airstream gleamed with frosty promise. We unlatched the door and looked inside: The fridge had slid out of its plywood cabinet, but the table was still bolted to the wall; the closet door was on the floor, but all windows were intact. A few stove knobs lay scattered at our feet, but at least the heater hadn't fallen off. This was cause for minor celebration, so we sizzled up eggs and bacon in our frigid little kitchen, and then carried our plates into our hotel room to eat next to the heater—one last little luxury before camping again.
Located entirely within the Navajo land, Canyon de Chelly National Monument is managed by the National Park Service but it’s under the jurisdiction of the Navajo tribal government. It’s a complicated arrangement, but for the typical visitor it boils down to this: You can’t enter the canyon without an authorized Navajo guide. Because it was low season and we hadn’t bothered to hire one in advance, so we unhitched the Airstream at Cottonwood Campground and drove the quarter mile to the visitor center, where a ranger gave me a list of outfitters. On my second call, I found Adam at Antelope House Tours, who agreed to take us into the canyon in our truck for $30 an hour.
In the last week, Sweetgrass Productions has dropped two new videos. Yesterday, Nick Waggoner and crew released the teaser to their new ski movie Valhalla, a story about "one man's search to rediscover the freedom on his youth." The video is packed with the requisite ski porn and some other stuff you might not expect—funky colored lights, an old man with an impressive beard, and dancing naked people not afraid to show off their butts. Sweetgrass Productions' last movie, Solitaire, pushed the boundaries of what a ski flick could be, and this one looks like it will do the same.
In the rough: Road 7950 out of Chaco Canyon. Photo: Katie Arnold.
There’s no direct route
from Chaco Canyon, in northern New Mexico, to Canyon de Chelly, across the
border in Arizona. Rugged badlands, sandy washes, and vast tracts of arid, roadless
country get in the way. Centuries ago, Native Americans traveled back and forth
on foot or horseback, but today, in a truck towing a vintage 20-foot Airstream,
there are only two ways out of Chaco Canyon: the northern road, or the
southern road. And it’s a toss-up which is worse.
Both roads are notorious
for roughly 20 miles of washboardy dirt moguls that look benign but are big
enough to swallow an Airstream whole, then spit it out in pieces. In our Airstream road trip the day before, we'd lost an entire window coming in from the north, and were so scarred by the experience that for a second it seemed almost preferable to abandon the
trailer forever in Chaco than to face that road with it hitched on behind us.
The next best thing would be to try our luck on the southbound route. We actually
thought, How could it be any rougher?