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Hite Marina, Lake Powell to Moab, Utah

August 28, Thursday
The distance we travel each day is determined by the spacing of the towns and services available along the way. Today was a short day because to pass up Fry Canyon would call for an 80 mile day with lots of uphill included, since we are now leaving the Colorado River at 3700 feet and must eventually ascend to 7,000 feet at Monticello. Fry Canyon is not really a town, but a cafe and motel. It made for a nice stop because it had a large front porch with a hammock chair for lounging in. Laurie sat and relaxed and watched the customers come and go. About 75% of them are European. The scenery continues to be of impressive red rock buttes and cliffs with the added dimension of the deep and narrow White Canyon cut into the ground. At first glance, the land appears flat between the road and the buttes across the broad valley floor. But upon closer inspection, the canyon is visible with its water eroded sides and maze-like twists and turns.

Since we reached Fry Canyon before noon, I (Bill) decided to take a hike into the nearby canyon. The wash quickly dropped into a slot canyon of 40 feet deep or more. Evidence of a recent flash flood was apparent from the wet canyon walls, pools of water, and logs jammed into the crevices some 40 feet above the floor. I could not find a climbable route down into the slot and even if I could, the pools of muddy water didn't look very inviting. The slot soon widened into a hikable dry canyon of 40 feet high by 20 to 50 feet wide with many twists and turns. The walls were exceedingly steep and I couldn't find a place to climb down for over one quarter mile of walking along the sandstone cliffs above the canyon. Once in the canyon, when walking in the shaded part, it was quite cool and comfortable.

I followed the canyon for over a mile which was rather intimidating considering the recent flash flood in Arizona which drowned about a dozen hikers in Antelope Canyon (which feeds into Lake Powell). There were few places that I could have climbed out of harm's way if a flash flood came. After about a mile and a half, I came to another narrow slot canyon which descended 40 feet to a lower floor again with pools of muddy water. This was the intersection with White Canyon which we had been following alongside the road for the past 20 miles. I retraced my steps and climbed out of Fry Canyon and returned to our room. The flood debris and the smoothly washed sandstone are intimidating reminders to be wary of the weather before entering into the domain of the canyon.

We continue to be surprised by what a refreshing stop these small outposts can offer. Fry Canyon is completely self-sufficient with its own electric generator and no phone service except for a cell phone. The prices are naturally higher to cover these costs but the service is great. For dinner we had Valarie's homemade lasagna which came with ground beef or in a vegetarian style. We enjoyed plenty of friendly conversation as well.

25.8 miles, 8.5 mph, 3 hours 4,251 total miles biked

August 29, Friday
Today was a tough but an enjoyable ride. We continued to gain elevation and we had several major downs and ups in the process. We followed White Canyon to its source near Natural Bridges National Monument. Although we would have liked to visit NBNM, it would have meant a 15 mile detour and probably an extra day to hike its trails. We are pretty focused on getting to Dewey Bridge at this point and don't want to add more days into the schedule.

We stopped at Mule Canyon to see remains of an Anasazi Indian village. We crossed Comb Wash and then climbed over Comb Ridge which extends for about 100 miles through southeastern Utah. After two more descents and climbs, we arrived in Blanding. Here, we saw the first utility poles and electric lines since Hanksville, some four days ago. We checked into the Grayson Country Inn B&B and got a chance to do some laundry and catch up on our journal on their computer. You can understand why we are partial to B&B's as these extra services are sometimes available to us at no additional cost. And, by the time breakfast is thrown in, they turn out to be a pretty good deal.

55.8 miles, 9.8 mph, 5 hours 41 minutes 4,307 total miles biked

August 30, Saturday
Bill was excited about the day's adventures, so even though we could sleep in until 6:20 am, he started flopping around in bed by 5:20. The reason for his excitement was that after we completed our 21 mile ride to Monticello, we planned to rent a jeep and tour part of Canyonlands National Park. The bike ride was somewhat more demanding than we anticipated due to about 2000 feet of elevation gain. We got to town in a little over three hours and sent Chapter 36 to Pete from the hardware store. We then learned of a B&B which also rented jeeps. So we accomplished two things in one stroke.

Heading off in our jeep, we first climbed over Blue Mountain and then passed by Newspaper Rock, a petroglyph covered rock with drawings which covered a 2,000 year span from BC to around 1350 AD. Upon reaching Lockhart Basin Road, we followed it for about six miles as this is the official route of the ADT in this area.

Upon entering the Park, we stopped at the Visitor Center to tell them of our plan to take the Elephant Hill 4WD Road, again the ADT route. We were warned by the ranger that this section of road was some of the most technically difficult 4WD road in the entire state. Since we had never driven a jeep before, we thought to ourselves, "How bad can this be, its in a national park?" So, undeterred, we drove down the access road and within 100 feet we realized just how maneuverable these jeeps can be. The road was amazing — going up or down steeply with huge boulders, ledges, and holes and dropoffs alongside. In places, it was necessary to drive the jeep into a switchback and back up or down a section until it could be backed into the next switchback so we could proceed forward. Laurie got out a number of times to direct Bill through the best approach.

We proceeded slowly until we heard a screech, crunch sound, and screaming and crying of children's voices up around the next bend.. Getting out and running up the road, we found a 4WD pickup truck in front of us had fallen over onto its side while trying to negotiate an offset rock ledge. No one was hurt, but the truck's windshield was smashed and the door and fenders were pretty dinged up. Two other trucks were with them, and between all of us, we were able to right the truck, but they had to make repairs to the springs which were damaged. Rather than wait for them to complete their repairs and being a bit intimidated at this point by what lay ahead, we decided to return by the route we had just traveled and hoped to avoid damaging our own rental jeep. We successfully returned to the beginning of the jeep road without damaging the jeep, but we did have some anxious moments and elevated heart rates as we drove back over the really rough sections. We then took a three mile hike to get a closer look into the Needles area before returning to our B&B for the night.

21.5 miles, 8.3 mph, 2 hours 33 minutes 4,328 total miles biked,

3 miles hiked, 126 miles jeeped

August 31, Sunday
Today marks the end of our sixth month on the trail. Before we left Monticello, Al Frost, an 83 year old Canyonlands expert and guide, met us at 5:30 for an early breakfast. Al helped guide Eric Seaborg and Ellen Dudley through this area when they scouted the ADT route in 1990. We swapped trail stories about various places on the route.

The ride from Monticello to Moab was wonderful. It was mostly downhill as we descended a net elevation loss of 3,000 feet. We made what we think is our fastest average speed of the entire trip. On the way, we stopped at the only place along the route, the Hole in the Rock. This is a 14 room home and gift shop built into a red rock mountain. After reaching Moab, we took a tour of many of its shops trying to arrange a shuttle to Grand Junction for us and our bikes after we reach Dewey Bridge on Tuesday. Another challenge will be trying to get a ride to Arches National Park tomorrow so we can tour it and do some hiking there.

55.7 miles, 15.6 mph, 3 hours 33 minutes 4,384 total miles biked

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

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