A Whole Different Enchilada, A Twist on a Moab Classic - Video

Jun 6, 2017
by evo  
Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen

Words: Chris Shalbot | Photos: Paris Gore | Video: Justin Olsen

Looking out over Castle Valley along the LPS segment of the Whole Enchilada trail is an awe-inspiring experience for all who lay their eyes upon the monuments, mesas, and expanse of red rock for the very first time. From the peaks of the La Sal Mountains to the valley floor some 7,000’ below, the rugged beauty and sheer scale of the landscape leave you feeling insignificant in the grand scheme of things. To the residents of Moab or those that make an annual pilgrimage, it’s something they never tire of.

Southern Utah is a hub for outdoor recreation of all types: rock climbing, hiking, 4×4 rock crawling, camping, archaeology & paleontology, backcountry skiing and splitboarding and of course mountain biking. The latter two brought the duo of evo ambassadors to the La Sals and Moab for 3 days of spring ski touring, splitboarding and biking.

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Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen

Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen

Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen


Same, Same, But Different

Quite possibly one of the most decorated American cyclists, Bend, Oregon’s Adam Craig has numerous national titles to his name that date back to his time as a junior cross-country racer. With XC, CX and enduro wins under his belt over the past 20+ years, Adam has stepped away from racing into more of a development role with his sponsor, Giant Bikes, freeing him up to spend time on projects and chasing his second passion, backcountry skiing.


Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen


Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen


Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen


For those in the know, the name Josh Dirksen conjures up the vision of a perfect heelside turn, one that is unmatched in the snowboard world. Josh’s film segments are timeless, and in recent years his snowboarding adventures have taken him backcountry camping with his splitboard on Central Oregon’s volcanos. After a long, deep winter, Josh, a solid biker, was keen for a trip that wasn’t just about snowboarding.


Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen

Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen


Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen


During Bend’s summer months, it’s not uncommon to see Josh’s mini ramp become a gathering place for some of Bend’s prominent snowboarders. Just down the hill, in Adam’s backyard, riders come over to BBQ and session his pumptrack late into the evening. You could quite literally throw a rock from Josh’s deck down to Adam’s property, so it was wild to learn that this pair of influential community members had never met prior to the calls, emails, and texts to plan this trip.

This kind of crossover between cyclists, skiers and snowboarders is becoming more and more common. Equipment advances in both biking and winter backcountry gear have seen participation carry over from one to the other as riders search for adventure all year long. The feeling of climbing to the top followed by a ripping, ear to ear grin filled descent is the same regardless of method. One’s entire day can be consumed by the social-filled ups and adrenaline-filled downs with good friends stopping for food, water, and banter about that last section while taking in the views.


Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen



A Whole Different Enchilada

Those experiences are what memories are made of. Moab was the place to combine the two into one insane spring adventure. The original plan was to stay closer to home and use the volcanos and singletrack of Central Oregon, but after one of the snowiest winters on record, we were left with long approaches and a plan that wouldn’t materialize until later in the spring. Adam mentioned Moab and the relatively unsung La Sal Mountains, a trip he’s wanted to tick off his own list for some time and the sort of trip Josh might be up for. Texts to Paris and Justin were followed up by definitive a “YES!” from both. After some digging and calls to local connections, things started to line up. I booked our yurt and Josh and Paris booked their plane tickets into Salt Lake City where we’d pick up Justin before making the 3.5-hour drive south. Adam was in the midst of a four-week road trip and would meet us in Moab with Evan Clapper, our local resource on all things Moab. Suddenly, Josh and Adam’s maiden Moab trip was a go.


Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen


After arriving in Moab and wrangling the crew, anticipation grew as the snow covered La Sals got closer and closer. We pulled into the winter trailhead, locked up bikes and unloaded our snow stuff before hauling it the four or so miles into our yurt at Geyser Pass. Situated between Haystack Mountain and Mt Mellenthin at 10,500 feet above sea level, Geyser Pass is the highest shuttle drop of the Whole Enchilada Trail system during the summer months. During our stay, there was still up to four feet of snow in places.


Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen


Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen


Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen


The 26 miles of the Porcupine Rim Trail has been a staple of Moab riding for years now, drawing people from all over the world with its technical riding and stunning views from the base of the La Sals down to the Colorado River. In recent years, the US Forest Service opened the Burro Pass and Hazard County sections to bikes. This upper section adds nearly 10 miles and 3,500’ of elevation to the Whole Enchilada. Connecting these new sections now gives riders a maximum sampling of steep and rooty, to sandstone ledges and red clay, and everything in between.

Our days would start off with a 5am wake-up call to check weather and boil snow for the coffee and oatmeal. Once caffeinated, we started the trek up Haystack Mountain with our splitboard and ski touring gear, booting the final stretch. From the summit of Haystack we could see the mountains around Telluride, Colorado to the Southeast and to the Southwest, Bears Ears National Monument. With Porcupine Rim as the backdrop, we rode the 1500 feet down to the dirt before skinning back up to Burro Pass for another run, this time banking turns down through the woods, following the buried bike trail below us.


Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen


Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen


Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen


Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen


Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen


With the snow portion checked off, biking the open sections of the trail was next. Because we weren’t able to connect the snow and dirt sections directly, we didn’t get riding until the early afternoon, about two hours later than expected. We finally picked up dry trail in the aspen groves of lower Hazard before crossing the road and continuing down the rough Kokopelli road to where the singletrack picked back up. We climbed to the top of UPS (Upper Porcupine Singletrack), sessioning sections to find rhythm within the rolling rocks and square sandstone edges. Once on LPS, Castleton Monument looked close enough to touch while hawks circled below, catching thermals along the rim wall. Further down we were greeted by the Colorado River and more technical trail. Much like Josh arcing a graceful turn on variable snow, watching Adam pump the back of rocks and carry speed through rough terrain showed his skill and years of experience on a bike. As a spectator, it was rewarding to see them both in their professional element but also great to see them having fun being amateurs at the other’s sport.


Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen

Mother Nature Always Calls the Shots

It wasn’t all blue skies and high fives though. As cliché as it sounds, we should have known that weather is never a sure thing in the high desert. A forecasted 70’s in town and milder but sunny weather up high quickly turned to 40% chance of snow and subfreezing temps in the alpine. We woke up to new snow every morning and our tours to the surrounding ridges were hampered by hard snow that never softened due to cloud cover and winds. The new snow that fell was often blown away, revealing sun-cupped ice and rocks.

Regardless, morale remained high and we carried on, buzzin’ from the novelty of skiing high above the red desert. Down below, on dirt, the sun finally came out, rejuvenating everyone for the ride ahead. We thought we were in the clear only to be reminded that Mother Nature has final say by periods of snow and hail, sending us scrambling for cover to wait out these microbursts in the junipers and over-hanging rock formations. Eventually, the weather eased and gave way to sun and warmer temps. The rocks dried out and we carried on. By the bottom, the landscape was dusty and desperate for water.


Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen

Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen


Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen

Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen


Whole Enchilada Moab Adam Craig Josh Dirksen


In the end, we missed the good skiing by a couple of days, the marble-sized hail stung and we had to wear down jackets while riding bikes in the desert. But therein lies the beauty of the adventure—skiing uncommon peaks, riding bikes on a world-famous trail, finding shelter from the elements under a tree, rock or canvas covered yurt. It’s these moments that have been forever seared into my memory.

View a whole different enchilada on evo.com



MENTIONS: @evo | @giantbicycles | @parisgore | @patagonia




61 Comments

  • + 14
 This article brought me right back to riding here. To those that also have, I imagine it did the same for you. To those that haven't...... Make every attempt to do so. It is worth every penny the trip will cost.
  • + 0
 Stay at our yurt in the summer and fall and have the Whole Enchilada for breakfast before all the shuttles show up, also stay another day and ride the locals single track that we want more riders on! talkingmountainyurts.com. And by the way, my name is Will. Cheers!
  • + 12
 JD!!!! That name takes me back the the Mack Dawg films in the 90's. He had a sick method as well as the best heel side roost.
  • + 7
 Dirksen creates some of the most beautiful pow turns I've ever seen.
  • + 3
 @joepax: Amen to that!
  • + 1
 Jerksen. So awesome.
  • + 1
 He had the biggest one footers out there aswell. One of the coolest dudes in snowboarding, that's for sure!
  • + 5
 Must. return. to. Moab.Too bad all I had was a Cannondale HT with a 2.5" Judy SL when I made my 2 Moab pilgrimages in the late 90s. Next time I ride the Portal it'll be on my Capra. Lucky to be alive.
  • - 2
 Check out Talking Mountain Yurts! Skiing or riding, beat the crowds and sleep high ride high! Yurts along the the trail open for riding from June through the end of October!
  • + 4
 Years and years ago I crashed at a friend's house in Bend, OR and met Dirksen. The next day he played tour guide and took us all over Mt. Bachelor. This woulda been early 2000s, so he could of easily had a gigantic ego, but the guy was insanely mellow. Never saw or talked to him again. Glad to see him still doing what he loves.
  • + 3
 Not many people know where the name "The Whole Enchilada" came from, but it was actually coined from one of our ex Moab/LaSal avalanche forecaster's batchelor party many years ago, before the trail was complete. On this day we skied off the top of a 12,000' peak, then biked down to Morning Glory Arch, repelled into Negro Bit Canyon then did a booze cruise -raft float down the CO river into town and named it "TWE". #truestory
This story is pretty damn cool too. Nice job boys!
  • + 1
 thats not at all the story.. but cool story bro.. if you want the real story ask me sometime.. this is not it
  • + 3
 It takes a lot of planning to make that spring skiing/biking mission happen but when it goes well you never look at Moab the same again. Super rad to see AC and Dirksen shredding together. Two of the best in our sports.
  • + 2
 Moab double days are a springtime must. Just don't forget the layers...
  • - 1
 And they did so with access to Talking Mountain Yurts. Ride High, Sleep High!
  • + 5
 Okay. That does look like fun. Should learn how to ski or board before I die....
  • + 3
 Best feeling on Earth!
  • + 3
 More Adam Craig vids please... love watching that guy ride.

I think the coolest thing about this video is that they were mountain biking and skiing/snowboarding on the same mountain in the same day.
  • - 2
 Check out what two Mountain Bikers and Skiers who make no money can do as a team....they create Talking Mountain Yurts! Super hard work, chainsaw fun and 15 cords of fire wood, two snowmobiles that tow big ass trailers, scary rides, lots of snow digging to get to the door, cutting out trees to just get there and keep the road open, bear problems, and busted backs often solo, it is a story in it self yet an honor to give people a true experience in an oversold place...we keep it simple yet luxurious for your shredding pleasure and your own awakening. Keep it real, give credit where credit is due. Will Kelley, Talking Mountain Yurts.
  • + 1
 I just died. You guys are the best. Love this too much!! was there in October in March & hit Snowbird on my way in and out. Never occurred to me to hit the snowpack up on Burro with the boards before dropping in on what was open below with the bikes. #newgoals
  • + 0
 Talking Mountain Yurts all year long baby! We break our backs to deliver the goods because that is the stoke, as the owner, rider, skier, mechanic at Chile Pepper Bikes you can bet I am not getting rich, just want to make it happen up high where we need more riders on other trails besides Burro Pass, and skiers all winter long!
  • + 2
 Myself, along with a bucket of friends were just there less than 2 weeks ago. Burro Pass is still closed but Hazard County was open and so was Jimmy Keen. Loved it, highly recommended! That reminds me, I need new brake pads.
  • - 1
 Yurt at Jimmy Keen is open! Check out talkingmountainyurts.com. Just two working stiffs that ride and ski.
  • + 1
 @coghound: Yay to Chilly Pepper bike shop!????????
  • + 3
 having been born and raised in Durango. Moab was always a place I considered my second home. I was engaged and married their and I will love the riding their.
  • + 2
 Is Purgatory the only lift accessed bike park near Durango?
  • + 8
 @DuelingBanjos: depends what you consider close. Telluride is 2hrs away and Crested butte is 4hrs away, but I personally wouldn't waste my time on park riding in Durango. High Alt. riding is where it's at.
  • + 1
 @Longtravel: being close to Durango is their only advantage i guess but there should be some potential there, new trails are needed.
  • + 1
 @DuelingBanjos: their are thousands of trails in Durango and even more surrounding Durango. Building new trails in that area is tough b/c the amount of BLM and National Park is through the roof. This has a lot to do on why it's so expensive to live in the area. Trails2000 is a good website that maintains the local trails.
  • + 4
 @Longtravel: I meant more lift accessed trails as in growing the size of Purgatory bike park.

Speaking about Durango, what a great place, drive up to Silverton is something as well. Bought few cds in small records shop in downtown. After that we were off to New Mexico.
  • + 3
 @DuelingBanjos: I lived in Farmington New Mexico and spent tons of time both riding and snowboarding in the area including Durango and Moab. I don't know how it is these days but you used to be able to walk in to the shop on main street and talk to Ned or Juli, then walk across the street and pick up some Dead tapes...man those were the days!
  • + 3
 DURAAAAAAANGOOOOOOO. Typing this comment from my office in downtown DGO, looking out the open garage door with an amazing view of Hogsback and Perins Peak!! Love this place, and yes being close to Moab (and the multitude of other outdoor recreation mecca's) is quite the perk.

@DuelingBanjos: Purg's (relatively) new owner is pushing tons of new summer recreation development (he has to bc we might not have snow here in a decade), unfortunately it's mostly aimed at the family tourism market which means not a ton of new mtb trail development, although they did just revamp the flow trail a few summers ago and I hear they're planning on redeveloping the 1999 Worlds trail soon. But yeah, @Longtravel is correct, the in-town trails are numerous and insanely diverse, from super fast and flowy (Test Tracks) to world-class technical (Horse Gulch), and the high country riding is just incredible.

Park riding at Purg is tricky for me personally because it's not nearly burly enough to warrant a full DH rig (imo), but it's just rough enough to quickly put real wear and tear on my 150 trailbike.
  • + 1
 edit: 1990 Worlds rather.
  • + 3
 @DuelingBanjos: Yes, Purg needs to step it up. They only have one meager flow trail and charge $42 a day! Super lame! SO much potential tho. Really wished T2000 was more into building new trails than fundraising.
  • + 1
 @slayerdegnar: Oh yeah, lots of potential but the money probably just isn't there. Anybody who takes a vacation that's even slightly centered around park riding is gonna go straight to Whistler. Anybody planning a bike vacation centered around Durango or SW CO is probably not looking into park riding at all. I mean, even Telluride's bike park is pretty meager, and Telly is a much more progressive mountain resort than Purg. But loads of non-adventure-oriented families from New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas take summer vacations here, which means Purg (and pretty much every other resort in CO, hell even in the lower 48 ) can make more money by developing lame baby attractions like the alpine slide and turf-tubing lanes (which is "adventure" in most of said families' eyes). In fact, there's a MASSIVE amount of money going into developing a new alpine attraction at Purg right now. I think the details are still on the hush and I don't want to risk letting the cat out of the bag and pissing off the wrong people, but I can tell you that with this amount of money they could develop more than a handful of world class bike park lines. Sure, the locals would love a more progressive bike park, but like most resorts, Purg makes practically none of its revenue off locals, it all comes from tourists. So they have to please the tourists before the locals.

As far as I know, and correct me if I'm wrong, T2000 doesn't do any trail building or maintenance at Purg. The resort has a pretty big full-time crew of trail cutters on their payroll, one of whom is a good friend of mine. But from what I've heard this crew spends the vast majority of their summer maintaining ski trails, and very little maintaining or developing bike trails. Not sure if Purg would even allow T2000 to develop trails on their land?

Dunno, lots of factors, bottom line is Purg should step it up for the local park rats but probably can't make the cost benefit analysis work.
  • + 2
 @DuelingBanjos: it is really hard to beat. Durango is a gem, but the price to live and pay is high. Purg. resort has changed hands so many times it is crazy. Angel fire and Crested Butte offers good park riding.
  • + 3
 @jcrrr13: if you want park, angle fire or crested butte are worth the drive.
  • + 1
 @Longtravel: Oh yeah, totally forgot about Angel Fire! Never ridden there personally but I know they have a pretty good park.
  • + 1
 @DuelingBanjos: Powderhorn (near grand junction) is also in that general area, but it's probably 3 hours or so.
  • + 4
 I 100% saw myself in this video
  • + 0
 As the owner of the Yurt featured in this article as well an avid rider, skier, and mechanic at Chile Pepper Bikes in Moab, Talking Mountain Yurts is founded on immediate and intimate access to the the La Sal Mountains all year round. Bring a posse and split the cost we will help you with your shuttle options. There is other single track to be had in the La Sals, you just don"t know about it, few people do. We will help you find it, it needs riders and Burro doesn't. Are you a contender? Check us out at talkingmountainyurts.com and always remember, Ride High, Sleep High!
  • - 1
 The narrative of the kinds of videos does my head in. Way to emotional. Just say it's an epic place to go and do your best to get there. The video shows the scenery. Definitely stoked it didn't end with having a beer around a camp fire though!
  • + 1
 Haven't been on PB in a while, so I don't know if it may have already happened or not (Too lazy to check); but either way, this vid is DEFINITELY VOD worthy!!!
  • + 3
 More articles like this.
  • + 2
 Trails closed boys, the moose out front shoulda told ya!
  • + 2
 Adam Craig, you're my hero.
  • + 1
 Welcome to Utah! If you dont like the weather, wait 5 minutes!
  • + 1
 Right on fellas, that was RAD!
  • + 1
 Dirksen is LEGENDARY! Well done, Pinkbike!
  • + 1
 That was pretty much epic.
  • + 1
 Love the Bike Mag marsh guard.
  • + 1
 thanks for this. Inspiring and the best photos I've seen in a while.
  • + 1
 miss this place and its only been 9 months since I was there
  • + 1
 My thoughts exactly, a year has passed in my case.
  • + 2
 You should probably just move back Jarrod! -Ran
  • + 1
 Same. I was there in October and didn't make it back this spring.
  • + 2
 @sb666: haha! I miss the riding and friends! but wanted to explore! so far, met cool ppl and been to some fun riding places. checking out more this weekend!
  • + 1
 Inspiring landscape = moab. yes.
  • + 1
 That last rock section is treacherous- they make it look so easy...
  • + 1
 Yewww! Good stuff!
  • + 1
 Bucket list.

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