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This chapter was typed at the Grayson Country Inn Bed & Breakfast in Blanding, Utah. It was sent to Pete on the Internet from the True Value Hardware Store in Monticello, Utah courtesy of Bob Francom.

August 22, Friday
It's a good thing we are able to find ways to alternate the difficult days with easier days. Or, perhaps we'll just call them less difficult days as "easier" is a relative term. We ascended over 4,000 vertical feet today as we rode from the town of Beaver up Beaver Canyon and over the Tushar Mountain Range. Beaver was at less than 6,000 feet and we topped out around 10,300 feet on Big John Flat. On the way we passed by Elk Meadows Ski Area and Puffer Lake Resort. The scenery was great, especially the canyon and the meadows on top plus the views of the 12,000 foot peaks around us. This is the highest elevation we will reach on our trip through Utah.

On our way down, the road (Utah state highway 135) turned to gravel but Laurie coped okay as it was a good surface. Just before going over the summit we were caught in a light hail storm. On our descent, Bill got another flat tire. :-(( He will get a new rear tire at the first opportunity. The previous cut in the tire, even though patched with duct tape, somehow punctures the tube.

We have had afternoon thunderstorms yesterday and today which they tell us are really unusual. We are glad to be down off the mountain before the lightning comes. We had a reminder of how long this trip has been. Children in most Utah counties started school this week.

After our long day, we got a room in a B&B in the town of Junction, Utah. It's a restored 1890's home. There was no shower but instead it had a big old clawfoot bathtub in the middle of the large bathroom. We both took luxurious bubble baths which helped soothe away the soreness we were both feeling. Finally, the Last Go-Round Cafe served up a great shrimp and pasta special. Frank and Belinda, the owners, recently opened the cafe when they moved here from Las Vegas. We told them their place definitely ranked in our "best restaurants" contest.

Oh yeah, we noticed Bill's bike computer clicked over 4,000 miles today. These are not all ADT miles as there are probably 300 miles going to and from camps, towns, restaurants, backtracking, etc. Still, this seems very impressive to us and it is a very long distance.

44 miles, 7.3 mph, 6 hours, 4,035 total miles biked

August 23, Saturday
As we get deeper into Utah, the terrain is changing. Wide valleys and mountain ranges are being replaced by more rocks and canyons. Our ride this morning took us through a canyon whose lower sedimentary rock was capped by a harder rock. The result is eroded pillars, shelter caves, and many eerie rock formations. The thunderstorm yesterday afternoon really hit this area with a vengeance and the road had at least a dozen places where flash flooding had washed mud and gravel over the road. The highway crews had been busy though and had already plowed off most of the mess, but warning signs and a thin layer of mud remained in lots of places. We saw Otter Creek Reservoir on our right as we biked up the sagebrush covered Grassy Valley.

This region appears to be a favorite area for ATV and motorcycle riding. There are a number of trails built for them here. The Paiute Trail and its many side trails covers about 240 miles. Some of this trail is used by the ADT.

Again, today, we noticed thunderstorms building by late morning, so we were glad for our early start and our arrival in Koosharem before noon. We stayed in a bunkhouse type room at a ranch for the night.

41.5 miles, 11.4 mph, 3 hours 38 minutes 4,076 total miles biked

August 24, Sunday
We began by climbing Parker Mountain to the western edge of the Awapa Plateau at 8,400 feet elevation in 16 miles. When we topped out on Parker Mountain, we officially left the Great Basin physiographic region and entered the Colorado Plateau region. On top, the plateau was more rolling than we expected and quite desolate. No houses, ranches, or trees were in sight, only grass or sagebrush covered hills. The descent into Loa was fast and fun. From here on, we will be following the Fremont River, which is the first river in Nevada or Utah which we have seen that flows into the Colorado River.

We stopped at a local cheese factory for a quick tour which a maintenance man gave us despite the fact that the store was closed on Sunday. The milk is delivered into huge tanks and pumped through pipes which are enclosed in larger steam pipes to pasteurize it. It is poured into large vats where the enzymes are added and mixed. This causes the milk to form curds and whey. The whey is drained off and the curds are then pressed into blocks of cheese.

Our route today took us through a number of small towns for a change. We stopped in a cafe at most of them for a snack and a chance to talk to some local people — hash brown potatoes in Loa, a pie or milkshake in Bicknell, a sandwich in Torrey. Since the day was still fairly cool we decided to ride the 11 extra miles to camp at Capitol Reef National Park. It seemed as soon as we left Torrey, the land forms changed dramatically. The grassy valley gave way to enormous red rock cliffs and canyons. When we got to the campground, Bill still had energy for a 4 mile hike on the Cohab Canyon and Brinkman Arch Trails, while Laurie decided to relax. When talking to the ranger about our trip, we got an invite to his apartment for a shower, which we readily accepted. On our evening tour of the campground, we met five different families from Germany. The West is popular with Europeans as they fly to L.A., Law Vegas, or San Francisco and rent motorhomes for a month or more and tour our national parks.

56 miles, 11.4 mph, 4 hours 51 minutes 4,138 miles biked

August 25, Monday
Some days on this trip have been just awesome — today was one of those days. From our campground, we rode down through the canyon of the Fremont River through the Park, past more towering redstone cliffs, hidden side canyons, past weirdly shaped pinnacles, spires, and gargoyles. Finally, the canyon widened into a broad valley with sharp-edged mesas, buttes, and badland type formations. And, the bonus was, we were headed downhill all the way except for a couple small rises to provide a broader view of the sandstone and desert. Then, as we were just beginning a major descent, we saw the very first long distance bike riders of our whole 4,000 mile journey. Buss and Vis, a young couple from Holland, seemed just as excited to see us as we were to see them. We talked for about 10 minutes. They were on a 6,000 mile trip which included Australia, the western US, and British Columbia. They were young enough to be our kids but we all enjoyed the brief encounter.

Arriving in Hanksville by 11 am, we ate a late breakfast, got a motel room, and chilled out while the sun raged outside to over 100 degrees. We will be up early tomorrow for a 50 mile day to Lake Powell which is at only 3700 feet elevation. It will likely be very hot there.

37.4 miles, 13.5 mph, 2 hours 45 minutes 4,173 total miles biked

August 26, Tuesday
It was very dark when we left this morning because the sliver of moon and all the stars were obscured by cloudy skies. Still, it was rather warm as we pedaled down UT 95 through the desert. As the sun began to dawn, we were greeted with intermittent light rain. This and the all day cloud cover helped to cool us. When we reached the Glen Canyon area, the road began to descend into a canyon of massive red rock, sheer cliffs, towering pillars, and pockmarked walls. We know that our description of this country is sounding redundant, but it is just magnificent. It felt as if the road was the Colorado River and we were rafting through the Grand Canyon. We crossed the Colorado River over the Hite Bridge and rode down to the marina. There, we rented a small boat for 1 1/2 days to take a very small tour of Lake Powell, as this lake has more miles (1900) of shoreline than the entire US west coast on the Pacific Ocean.

Bill calculates that we have lost 4700 feet elevation from Parker Mountain on Sunday to Lake Powell making for 128 miles of mostly downhill in the past three days. Not since coming off Grand Mesa in Colorado have we had such a great descent. We both realized that we would be paying our dues when we climb out of Glen Canyon, but that was a worry for another day.

On the boat, we explored several canyons, some which became quite narrow, before we camped for the night on a small peninsula. We jumped in for a couple of swims and heard many fish jumping in the water as we cooked dinner. Bill wishes he had his fishing gear now!

52 miles, 11.8 mph, 4 hours 22 minutes
4,225 total miles biked 16 miles boated

August 27, Wednesday
Today, we actually got to sleep in. It was 8 am before we got out of the tent. The dawn came with clouds and light rain, so we packed up our gear and put it in the boat under the awning. The rain was short-lived and we spent the day exploring more canyons (in the boat) and by taking several swims to keep cooled off. The scenery is just spectacular here and it changes around every bend. At one point, Bill took a one mile hike to explore an old mining road that was built long before the dam on Lake Powell. We camped near the Hite Marina after turning in our boat. Much of our conversation lately is spent discussing what parts of the trip we liked best. We are starting to think about what life will be like on our return to Lynchburg. After talking to Mick, we learned we have a retirement dinner to attend for Bill's former boss, a Habitat for Humanity house to build, plus a going away party for Kathy Kowalski.

16 miles boated, 1 mile hiked

© Copyright, William & Laurel Foot, 1997, Lynchburg, VA.
The Happy Feet

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