This years trip to Palo Duro Canyon was a huge success! Once we drove up to the park and set up camp, we all went on a spontaneous bike ride on a random trail next to our camp site. It wasn't actually a designated trail, but we figured it would be good to get a short warm-up in before the big day tomorrow than the hit the trails cold. After a flat tire or two from some random cactus, riding through knee high grass, and a few trail wheelies from Cody, it finally got too dark to ride the trail. Of course, this was after bombing down the road into the canyon on our mountain bikes at 35-45 mph. What a blast! Of course, those hand-numbing, hair-pin turns had to be taken a little slower!
Once we got back, we popped up a few tents and started cooking some awesome 1/3 lb burgers, hot dogs, and s'mores to finish off the night. The coyotes made a surprise visit before we tried to go to sleep though. It was certainly interesting hearing them come within 30 yards of the campsite!
The next morning came with a balmy temperature of 40 degrees. Three of us decided to go on a free hike up the side of the canyon wall. So, we trekked out through the knee high grass again; not really following a trail, just heading in the general direction of the canyon wall until we reached a creek. Luckily, we found a dead tree laying on the ground, which we laid across the creek and shimmied over to get to the other side. Unfortunately, one of the side branches snapped off and plunged Andre down into the creek bed. Luckily, the water was less than a foot deep and only his boots got wet! After we did that, we followed a series of drainage ditches and old rock-slide chutes up to the top of the canyon where we were met with some awesome views of the early morning sun!
Once we hiked back down to the campsite, everyone else was finally moving about the camp. Except for Harrison of course, he was still passed out in his hammock. After a quick breakfast of protein bars and cliff bars, we took down camp, crammed the mountain bikes into the back of Harrison's truck, - with the exception of Hunter, who decided to get towed while on his bike by hooking a ratchet strap onto the truck and holding on to the other end with his hand - and headed off to the start of the GLS trail.
`The next few hours were a blur of mountain biking as we rode non-stop from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm with a short break in the middle for PB&J sandwiches. Overall we logged around 18 miles of mountain biking that day and did all but two trails in the bark between our two groups! From the hops and technical turns of GLS, the smooth ride of the Rojo Grande Trail, to the roller coaster ride on Juniper Cliff-side, we definitely gave those bikes we rented from the OPC a workout they won't forget! Especially Austins, who's break handle ended up being bent at a 90 degree angle! By the time we got back to the parking lot we were all dirty, tired, and some of us had plenty of scrapes and bruises, but it was all worth it! We packed up our bikes, got in the car, and headed back in Lubbock just in time to watch Texas Tech loose to Kansas St. Not the best ending you could ask for, but definitely one of the best beginnings!
- Patrick Gres
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This is a good video I found that gives you a great idea of some of the awesome terrain that they have out at Palo Duro Canyon State Park!