Thursday, May 28, 2009

Colorado finally

It feels so so nice to be back in Colorado. The plan was to see the border from the tourist-trap Four Corners Monument, but after realizing that you have to pay $3 just to experience an imaginary line, I saw it a little down the road instead: "Welcome to colorful Colorado". Indeed. Rewind:

The best hitch ever got me from Zion to Kanab. L.B. and I split in Zion, me heading south, her going north. I got a lift from Sam, who was excited to finally meet another hiker and was going to give me a lift to the hwy in La Verkin, which is where I'd get a ride to Springdale, then thru the park back to my bike in Kanab. Once we got to La Verkin, he said he'd give me a ride all the way to Springdale, 20 miles away, if we could switch vehicles from SUV to convertible. Hell yes Sam!!! He had this sweet vintage Oldsombele something or another and we cruised in that to zion. Incredible weather. Incredible. The top was down and Sam says, "It's a holiday weekend, why not just go all the way to Kanab?". I'm never one to turn down generosity, although this was pushing it as it was 90 minutes out of his way, one-way. He was into it, and I could tell that meeting me was fueling his need for adventure. A little bit of drizzle didn't cause us to put the top up, and we cruised past the distusting number of people in Zion for Memorial Day in style.

In Zion I met the owner of the outfitter and got my bike out of his garage, but not after a double shot of espresso from his shop. The ride out of town was incredibly fast. I checked up on flash flood contision (moderate) at the BLM office and filled up on water before backtracking a tiny down the washboardy and very rough House Rock Valley Rd. 7 miles later I was at the Wire Pass trailhead to hike Buckskin Gulch. The clouds were creepy overhead, but I decided to enter the slot anyway. I had seen these clouds before, and they always usually just wind up dropping precip that evaporates before it hits the ground. Not this time. I made it a mile into the slot, working my way thru chokestones and wading in knee-deep puddles, before I got scared by being inside of a slot during the rain. I really didn't want to become "that guy". The guy who went into the slot while it was raining and was killed. That's okay because I didn't have enough time in the day to hike the thing properly. I need a couple of days to hike all the way to the Paria River and maybe down that canyon a ways. Maybe all the way down the Paria to Lee's Ferry. Geez LB was a bad influence....

The next morning showed off it's clear blue skies and I hiked the other direction from the trailhead toward the Coyote Buttes and The Wave. I've linked a pic to The Wave before, and I"m sad that I'm not able to upload any photos at this library of the area. This was probably my favorite section of UT. NO trails other than some crappy cairn work to lead you over and around navajo sandstone that was colored all sorts of pastel colors that reminded me a lot of Bryce: pink, purple, peach, white, orange... So incredible. 2 miles later I got to the wave, which added in red and black to the well as a knee-deep puddle to wade thru. I was the first person out there, so I had the thing all too myself. What a strange strange area. I'll be back, probably when I return to hike the Buckskin, which was also phenomenal.

Took off and made it to Page, AZ that afternoon. First I had to cross Glen Canyon Dam, which was more disgusting than I had guessed it would be. The canyon itself was beautiful, and I find it hard to completely hate the dam and all it stands for because the canyon is so beautiful with that deep blue water sitting in it. Still, there were power lines and support lines and all sorts of disgusting crap destroying an area that would otherwise be an area that could seriously rival the Grand Canyon.....

Page. Page was insanely crowded, noisy, but surprisingly green. It's 2 miles up on a hill that gives a great view of the canyons below and beyond, but sadly this view couldn't save the town. Fixed a punctured tube, made lots of cookie dough, and got the heck out of there under more scary black skies. I made it about 10 miles out of town, and started to realize that the people around here (surely not ALL Navajos) like the following: liquor, littering, and drunk driving. There were shattered bottles all over the shoulder of the road, I"m talking exponentially more than I've seen anywhere else. I weaved through those and tried to find something to ride on out of the way of traffic. This wasn't easy since there was also a 2 foot wide, teeth-chattering, rumble strip to steal 2/3 of the shoulder from me. Sob story I know. At least I wasn't at work... At dusk I found a way thru the CONSTANT barbed wire fences lining the rd onto some private property and hid amongst the desert shrub staring at the remnants of a nice sunset.

My math told me that I needed to average around 88 miles a day to get back to CB by June 1st. To me that was a good excuse to try to ride my first 100 mile day. 100 miles on a mtn bike, with semi-knobby tires, and out of cycling-shape. Since my internet time is running short, I'll just say I was lucky to get to mile 107 and call it a day to a phenomenal sunset. I had planned to ride less, but the noisy noisy disgusting Navajo town of Kayenta made me get the heck out of there prematurely. At least that town has a cool view of some of the rock of Monument VAlley, which appeared to be more beautiful than I had imagined.

And here I am in Cortez, CO after another 100 miles. Thought I successfully waited out a lightning storm under an abandoned gas station only to find it start up again nearby, and it sure was hard to get the fast pace I had imagined when I was already 80 miles into my day! The lightning was fantastic though...I saw at least 15 strikes less than 2 miles away from the safety, at first, of my clear patch of sky.

Durango tomorrow. San Juans tomorrow! And predicted rain. sigh...

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