oh I hate these rushed entries. I made it to Escalante, UT a little bit earlier than expected. My plan was to stop and camp on Hole-in-the-Rock Road a few miles out of town and zero tomorrow, but grand visions of the splendor of Esclante started to rush through my brain and I just had to ride those last few downhill miles, into a headwind, to town. Well it's not all that great, but I digress...
When was the last entry. Monticello??? Well, I left Monticello and did a lazy 11 miles south and camped on some Forest Service land. It was fun to ride my bike again, proving that my time off in Monticello was a good idea. Just to prove this, I was treated to an incredible sunset, the best of the trip...is this mother nature approving of my rest? The next day wasn't so easy...
I went through Blanding, but first in Blanding I went to Edge of the Cedars museum. It was a really incredible museum that spotlighted the ancient Puebloan culture that was prevalant all thoughout this area of SE Utah. The one thing that really blew my mind was a pair of handmade sandles (of course they were handmade, they were nearly 1,000 yrs old). These sandles were just incredible. What else can I say???
So I left and turned West on Hwy 85(??) Why is it that everytime I head west there seems to be wind? are there typically prevailing winds that always out of the west??? onward.....this road was quiet. Much quieter than I had expected. There was absolutely NOTHING on this road for 40+ miles until you get to Natl Bridges Natural Monument, my destination for the evening. But first ...that wind. hill after hill after hill into the hill was the ultimate frustration. I did see a really incredible Cliff Dwelling a mile off the road set in a beautiful alcove. Really incredible I say. Back on that dang road. Well I made it to Natural Bridges after really loving the fact that I only saw one car every 10 minutes. Found a spot out of the incessant wind next to a tourist overlook and read for hours. Waited for the sunset then stealth camped on BLM land just out of the park. The next day I had planned to hike a 9 mile loop hike passing the 3 main arches of the park, but decided to bail after 2 because I was low on food.
Now the riding was pretty good. Less hills. Less wind. Even less cars. The terrain started to get really strange, especially as I did the long long climb up Clay Hills Pass. The hills were colored purple, grey, red, orange...really really really really oddly surprised and felt like it was one of the most surreal places I've ever been to. After the pass there was easy riding out to Hall's Crossing, 60 miles after Natural Bridges, and my resupply spot. Or so I thought. I rolled in at 5:30 to find the stores closed. I'm so lucky that the heat had stifled my appetite enough to save my dinner.
Next morning I woke up, took the ferry across lake Powell to Bullfrog, and bought cookies, chips, and mac-n-cheese. Lots of uphill to get out of the lake, then it finally mellowed out and I was on the Burr Trail. I had been looking forward to this road for a while since I knew it went thru some really remote landscapes. The only views I got for a while were of the Henry Mtns (last mtns to be names in the US), and the Waterpocket Fold. If you've never heard of the Waterpocket Fold, google it. I followed this 100 mile spine pushing up through the earth for a while, then entered Capital Reef National Park. There were strange strange silver cliffs to my right, and that multi-colored Waterpocket Fold to the west. I took a side trip into Headquarters Narrows, which was a really fun hike into the interior of the Fold. I'm not going to write more about that Fold, but I could do an entire entry on how fascinating it was.
So I made it to the legendary Burr Trail Switchbacks, the only time I've seen switchbacks labeled on a road map. They were really really wide switchbacks that looked like a hiking trail climbing a steep mtn. I walked the bike here since the road was loose gravel and corrugated and STEEP. Pushing was good since I was snapping pics every 2 minutes.
I camped somewhere before long canyon. Was amazed by the sheer cliffs in Long Canyon blah blah blah. Then I hit UT 12, what a road. Went through the town of Boulder, which was a really cool rural town. Started the scenic byway, road up 'The Hogsback" which at parts was a really fun ride up on the top of what felt like a ridge, a ridge that dropped away at both sides and there was only enough space to make a two laned road up there. What a fun road. Sandstone dunes.
So I'm in Escalante now, and amazingly met triple-crown hiker trash LoveBarge here. She's hiking the Hayduke Trail right now and happened to come into town for some water purification stuff. Time to buy a bottle of wine for Utah storytelling...
I love Utah. Next up is 3 days of backpacking in Bryce Canyon. Can't wait.