ATV riders take a break in Cottonwood Canyon, giving a glimpse of just how big the impromptu cavavan had become.
Flash mobs usually seemed reserved for twenty-somethings who want to do a dance as a group in a public place, or teenagers looking to make a scene in a city square. But on Saturday a flash mob showed up in the most unlikely of places.
And only a few were younger than 30.
Through a series of tweets, emails and texts, ATV riders from all over the state descended on Nine Mile Canyon in an impromptu ride on Saturday that encompassed everything from looking at ancient rock writings on hot desert walls to throwing a few snowballs around Bruin Point. Riders came from as far away as St. George and Ogden, and one couple, who had recently moved to Utah from New York, said they moved to the state just to be able to ride.
While not quite the flash mob people identify with, the arrangements were made very quickly and many of the riders came in the night before and stayed at motels in Price.
Their backgrounds were diverse and their machines ranged from simple to ornate. But they were really in Carbon County for one thing. To get an overview of Nine Mile and to understand how the closure of some canyons through an agreement between gas developers, government and environmental groups would affect them and their sport.
But while there were those political undertones, the day was one to explore and learn. And have fun.
"This is a great ride," said Ed Landers of Hooper, who originally is from Indianapolis, Ind. "I wouldn't have missed this for anything."
When finally assembled at the Daddy Canyon complex, the group consisted of a total of 75 people, and between 55-60 machines. Many were family groups and the parking lot in the area showed how the vehicles were banded together with people familiar to each other.
The bulk of the riders were from out of the area, but some locals showed up to provide a little guidance, particularly through the myriad roads that split off and through the industrial traffic that is part of Cottonwood Canyon right now.
A ride up Dry Canyon to look at some ancient writings and granaries and then a descent back into Nine Mile and up Cottonwood began the trip. A stop at the Great Hunt Panel amazed many and then it was up the canyon where the group took up the entire parking area near the guard shack while large trucks moving rigs and equipment down the canyon. Next there was a stop for lunch near some cliffs and a stream just above the steep incline where large semis pulled tankers and equipment up and down as ATVers watched in awe.
Then it was onto the top, where on the way the group stopped in an open area and could survey the Uinta Mountains to the north and look down on some of the areas where the negotiated gates will start to be installed this week. Many in the group gathered at the center of the road and discussed the situation, with various speakers talking about public lands, what people need to do to protect access to them and how to become politically active to do so. Many lamented the closure of Horse Bench, Jack Canyon and the others, but also said they understood how important the development of natural gas was.
Then the group rode up through the pines and snowbanks from the long winter that still remain on the sides of the road. They then paused at Bruin Point looking over Carbon and Emery counties for awhile, before returning down the road and back to their starting point.
"This was a fantastic ride," said Gary Riddle of Layton, who is also the president of the Northern Utah ATV Association. "People here have been so welcoming and friendly. We wanted everyone who wanted to come to be here to see what this country is like. I can't wait to come back."
Then that evening as riders came in and loaded up, the group dispersed slowly, just like it came together.
But with another flurry of tweets, emails and texts, they could all come together again, somewhere, some place, and do it all over again.