Las Vegas to Albuquerque

 

Fall 2015

 

Denis Kertz, ©2015

 

Day 1: Sun, Sep 06, 2015 - LasVegas, NV

My friend Dave picked me up at 7:15 am and drove me to Midway Airport for my Southwest non-stop flight to Las Vegas for the start of my bicycle tour from Las Vegas to Albuquerque.  It's always a hassle to fly with a bike.  I had considered using ShipBike.com to get a reasonable rate to ship my bicycle ahead of time to Las Vegas but I discovered the best they could do was to get my bike to Las Vegas on Friday using FedEx and there was no guarantee that would happen.  And if the bike didn't make it by Friday then I would have to wait until Tuesday since Monday was Labor Day and I might not get on the road until Wednesday, depending on when I would be able to pick it up.

So I decided I wasn't up to the gamble and reluctantly chose to take it along on my flight.  As it turned out this was a fortuitous decision.  At the airport there was curbside check-in so I only had to carry my bike box and luggage a few feet and then everything was taken care of.  Flying my bike cost $75, just a few dollars more than shipping would have cost, and my 2 rear panniers strapped together and a duffel bag with my tent and sleeping bag went free as two checked baggage items.

The plane was completely full but I got an aisle seat and I was okay.  In Las Vegas everything arrived in good shape although the bike box was marginal.  Not surprising, TSA opened my bike box to inspect it but when they taped it shut they just taped it longitudinally and did it poorly.  The top lid was barely held closed by tape on the end – a really crappy job but no harm done.

I found a quiet area in the baggage claim area and re-assembled my bike.  Fortunately, I had a large bike box and I was able to pack the bike with the rear rack and rear fender attached to the bike.  So I only had to attach the front rack and front fender.  Within an hour I had the bike ready to go with the panniers hooked up.  I did have to re-pack everything later at the motel but it was good enough to ride the few miles to the Fairfield Inn where I used my Marriott reward points for a free night stay.

I figured riding out of the airport couldn't be too difficult since Paradise Road was right next to the airport and the motel was on Paradise Road.  How hard could that be?  I didn't see any sign for Paradise exiting the airport but I turned left to go north on Swenson.  I stopped and asked a cabbie parked along the road and he told me Paradise was one way south and Swenson one way north but shortly Paradise would be two-way.  I took that to mean Swenson would merge with Paradise but that wasn't the case.  So I asked another pedestrian and he told me to just turn west to catch Paradise and I had no problem finding the Fairfield Inn.  I rode about an extra 1.5 miles so that was no big deal.

While trying to figure out how to get to the motel from the airport it occurred to me that I could have used my GPS.  When I thought about that I realized I didn't know where my GPS was.  I knew I had it with me in the baggage claim and I had a bit of panic that I somehow managed to leave it in the baggage claim area when I unpacked some things.  It was a relief later when I finally dug it out of my panniers at the motel.

As soon as I got situated in my room I asked the front desk for a grocery store.  There was a Vonn, a large grocery store, about 3 blocks away so it was an easy walk to get stocked up.  Then there was a Subway next door to the motel and it was a convenient choice for dinner.  In between I re-organized  my packing and got everything mostly in order. By the time I ate and wrote my trip notes it was almost 7:30, which was really 9:30 for me and I retired shortly after that.  A fairly long day but more pleasant than I expected when the bike packing went better than I expected.

Day 2: Mon, Sep 07, 2015 – Las Vegas, NV to Callville Bay, NV [37.2, 3:37:11, 10.3 mph, 1,377']

I slept well and was ready to go in the morning.  The Fairfield had an impressive complimentary breakfast.  Last year I stayed at a Courtyard and was disappointed that they had discontinued their buffet breakfast so this year I shunned the Courtyard in favor of Fairfield with their complimentary breakfast and it was a good choice.  There were also a number of pilots and stewardesses there, not too much of a surprise given how close the Fairfield was to the airport.

After easting a significant breakfast I did my final packing.  As usual I managed to completely fill the panniers.  I left just before 8 am.  I needed to get to Lake Mead Blvd to the northeast.  I didn't know the best way to get there on a bike but Las Vegas was laid out on a grid pattern so I just weaved left and right until I reach Hollywood Blvd and took that north to the intersection with Lake Mead Blvd.

At the intersection I stopped at a 7-Eleven, my last opportunity for a cold drink until I reached my destination, Callville Bay.  Looking back at the city I was surprised to see I had already climbed several hundred feet.  However, the real climbing began when I left the 7-Eleven and there were some good views looking back at the city.

When I crested the climb there was a nice descent to the intersection with the Northshore Road.  Just before the intersection I had to show my senior pass to gain entrance to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.  Heading east on the Northshore Road was a roller coaster ride, descending and climbing out a series of washes.

After 32 miles I reached the turnoff to Callville Bay.  After a bit of climbing the rest of the way was a descent to the bay.  I made a beeline to the store and downed a couple of Gatorades.  Then I got a soda from the fountain with free refills and continued my assault on dehydration.  I was fortunate to get to the bay around 12:30 and was able to avoid the heat of the afternoon.  I still managed plenty of heat and spent the last hour of my ride drinking very warm water.

I hung around the store for about an hour and a half, re-hydrating and people watching.  Then I managed to summon up the energy to ride back to the campground and pick out a site.  The trick was to try figure out which site would give the best shade later in the evening.  I paid $5 for a site with my senior pass and set up camp.  Then I walked back to the store where there was also a grill and had their cheeseburger special and recorded my day's adventure.

But the day's adventures weren't over yet.  It was still very hot so I spent some time in a picnic area near the campground where the picnic tables had an overhang.  In the shade the temperature was tolerable.  Eventually I made it back to the campground.  I did my best to cleanup with a damp rag.  Then I went into my tent and tried to sleep and was miserable.

My single wall tent is great for normal weather but this wasn't normal weather.  If I had had a double wall tent I would have wanted to erect the tent without the fly and that might have been okay.  My single wall has decent ventilation but it stifled the little breeze that was around.  I tried lying on top of my sleeping bag but that was too much fluff.  I stripped down to just my shorts and laid on top of my Thermarest sleeping pad.  I was still sweating.  It wasn't until about 11pm that it cooled off enough that I could sleep without sweating.  From that point on it was okay for sleeping.

Day 3: Tue, Sep 08, 2015 - Callville Bay, NV to Echo Bay, NV [37.5, 4:36:19, 8.1 mph, 2,386']

Early in the morning I heard some thundering.  Then around 5am it started raining.  I dashed out of my tent to put a plastic grocery bag over my leather saddle.  The rain didn't last long, maybe 20 minutes.

I wasn't in a hurry to get up in the morning because the marina store didn't open until 8am.  I packed up and was down at the marina shortly after 7am.  I figured it was just as well to wait there as in the campground.  I had a good regular breakfast with ham, eggs, potatoes, and toast with coffee for $9.  Not cheap but this was a resort area and they didn't skimp on the portions so I was happy.  I also loaded up on water since it was going to be another hot day with no services until Echo Bay, my next destination.

I got on the road about 8:45.  First off I had to recover the 500 feet that I lost yesterday on the descent to the bay.  It was a 4 mile ride back to the Northshore Road that wasn't too bad.  Then there was some great scenery over the next 10 miles or so.  It was about 20 miles to the Echo Bay turnoff and most of this was good scenery but the first 10 miles were especially nice as the road wound up and down through the mountainous terrain with the Muddy Mountains on my left.  This was a reminder why touring is so great despite the some of the hardships.

The biggest problem with this type of riding wasn't so much the heat as the fact that the drinking water was very warm.  I tried to keep hydrated by taking frequent sips of tepid water rather than large gulps with limited success.

There were two big climbs, the initial climb leaving the bay and then another about 5 miles later of similar difficulty.  At the top of the second climb there was a trail to a nearby summit with a restroom at the trail start.  I stopped as much as anything because the restroom cast a shadow that allowed some protection from the sun.

The Lake Mead area is not a hunting area and there are signs that loaded weapons are not allowed but some folks obviously don't pay attention to that.  At one turnout I saw a bunch of empty casings and I picked out 4 different types – .22, 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, and .308 Winchester.

Continuing on there was a couple more short climbs.  Near the top of the second climb there was a picnic area just off the road with a sheltered picnic table that I took advantage of for a break from the sun.  I could have taken a nap there but delaying only meant that it would get hotter and it would be longer before I would get a cold drink.  So I continued on after about 20 minutes.

I crested the last real climb and then there was a nice 5-mile descent.  A little more climbing and I reached the Echo Bay turnoff after 30 miles.  Then it was a mostly downhill descent of about 500 feet to Echo Bay.

On the descent I passed by a ranger station and noticed there was a water fountain outside.  I stopped and found I hit the jackpot as it provided cold water.  I drank a couple bottles of cold water before I descended the rest of the way to a store at the bay just before 2:30 pm.  It wasn't much of a store with just some basic drinks and a limited food selection but I had a cold Gatorade, which would have been multiple Gatorades had I not taken advantage of the cold water fountain at the ranger station.

I also lucked out that there was a picnic table outside the store that was in a shaded area.  It was actually pretty pleasant in the shade with a little cooling breeze.  I hung around there for about an hour because I knew I would not likely find a spot like that in the campground until later in the day.

Finally, I picked out a camp site at the campground next door and set up.  I spent some time picking a site that would have good shade and also close to water and the restroom.  Somewhat surprising the campground water spigot provided water that was more drinkable than yesterday which was way too hot.

The bad news about the store other than minimal selection was it closed at 4:30 pm.  So I hustled back to the store after setting up for more cold drink and some marginal food.  I noted there wasn't really anything for breakfast so I expected to rely on my cereal supply and the cold water at the ranger station in the morning.

This was a harder day than yesterday even though it was the same mileage.  That's because there were no services along the way and it was about 1,000 more feet of climbing.

Day 4: Wed, Sep 09, 2015 - Echo Bay, NV to Glendale, NV [40.5, 4:40:17, 8.7 mph, 1,845']

It didn't seem quite as hot as the previous night so I slept a little better.  I got up at 6 am and packed up and left.  I rode up the hill a short ways to the ranger station with the cold water fountain and used it along with my powdered milk for a cereal breakfast.

It was 5 miles back to the main road and 500 feet of climbing.  The big question for the day was whether I would visit or skip the Valley of Fire State Park.  It was a 5-mile side trip with at least 500 feet of climbing.

Along the way I stopped at a picnic area.  As I was about to leave a motorcyclist passed by and then turned around and I met Gilbert from Peoria, IL.  He was an avid motorcyclist and bicyclist.  He said he had 8 motorcycles and kept one in Boulder City so he would have something to ride when he was in the area.  He was on his way back to Las Vegas with a plane to catch in a couple of days.  We talked about 30 minutes about various travels.  He was really loaded down with camping and hiking gear.  He also said he didn't think Valley of Fire was really anything different that what I was already seeing along Lake Mead so that convinced me to skip it.

Continuing on I left the Lake Mead Recreation Area and rode into Overton.  It was only about 25 miles but I was considering staying there.  I was dragging somewhat and the idea of a motel was appealing with all this heat.

First thing I did was stop at a Maverick for a cold drink.  They had an 83 cent special for a large drink at the soda fountain so I had 2 Gatorades which helped to improve my disposition.  Then I rode to the McDonalds and had a vanilla shake.

There were a couple of motels right in the downtown area.  One was obviously closed and when I stopped at the other one the proprietress said she didn't have any rooms.  There was another motel on the edge of town that looked pretty upscale so I passed on it and rode on.  I was feeling much better after some cold libation.  However, there wasn't anything in Logandale so I had to continue on to the Interstate junction but not after I had another cold drink in Logandale.

There was some significant climbing on the 12 miles from Overton to the Interstate.  When I got to the Interstate I discovered I had to ride a couple miles south to Glendale for a motel.  Unfortunately, it was downhill which meant I would have to reclaim that lost altitude tomorrow.

There was a 15-unit motel as part of an AMPM food mart.  I thought it would be reasonably priced given looks but they charged $66.  This was a pretty crappy motel for the price.  First I had to kick the door open when I used the key.  Then it wasn't laid out very well inside with a microwave oven perched on the only table in the room.  Then I discovered I couldn't access the WiFi.  I had room 11 and it was too far away from the office.  When I walked closer to the first room I got enough signal that I could get connected.  I went back to the office and complained so we switched to room 3 where the signal was marginal inside the room but workable.

As I was switching rooms I ran into a Swiss bicycle tourist who was looking for a room too.  He had come from the Valley of Fire State Park and really liked it.  He was on his way to Zion and Bryce but was having fun dealing with the heat as I was.  Originally he had planned to head south and then west and end up in Fresno, CA, to meet his wife, who was traveling independently, and fly home.  However, because of the heat he was changing his itinerary but hadn’t finalized on a route change.  I suggested he might want to look at riding US50 across Nevada.

Day 5: Thu, Sep 10, 2015 - Glendale, NV to Littlefield, AZ [51.1, 5:27:13, 9.4 mph, 1,875']

The cafe was useless for breakfast since they didn't open until 9am.  So I grabbed some things in the food mart and ate breakfast in my room.

Leaving about 7:15 am I reclaimed the 500 feet I lost descending to Glendale and a little more as I climbed for 4 miles to reach the top of a hill.  It wasn't a very enjoyable ride on the Interstate and the scenery wasn't particularly interesting.  After 22 miles I was able to leave the Interstate on NV170 to ride to Mesquite.  The road crossed the Virgin River and paralleled the Interstate on the other side of the valley.

When I reached Mesquite I stopped at a food mart and guzzled a 32oz Gatorade.  Then I got a 44oz soda from the soda fountain and sipped that.  By the time I finished I was bloated but I knew that feeling wouldn't last long when I started riding again.

Ideally I would have stayed in Mesquite with multiple motel and food options but I wanted to ride another 9 miles to Littlefield to make tomorrow's ride a little easier.  I wasn't sure but I asked and found Hwy 91 to Littlefield was a paved highway so I didn't have to get back on the Interstate.  This road had some interesting scenery that wouldn't have been available on the Interstate.

As the road neared Littlefield I could see some greenery in the distance which is usually a telltale sign of civilization in a desert area.  When the rode reached the Interstate I got back on and crossed the Virgin River only to discover the town I saw wasn't Littlefield.  When I checked my GPS I discovered I should have stayed on Hwy 91 and it would have taken me right by Littlefield on the other side of the Interstate which wasn't visible because it was sitting in a low spot.

When I recovered I found Littlefield had little.  I stopped at a small store joined with a bar and guzzled another 32oz Gatorade.  It was also obvious that the Arizona lottery was popular as several folks stopped in the store to buy lottery tickets but I managed to hold on to my money.

Next door was the Beaver Dam Lodge, a golf and RV resort, and the only accommodation in the town.  I got a room for $50 which was much nicer than last night's room with a good WiFi.  The restaurant was also good if all you wanted was pizza, the only item on the menu in this off season.  That was okay with me and I had a large pepperoni pizza that was too much but I chugged it down anyway.  I might need all the energy from this pizza tomorrow when I continue on NV91 with a 3,000 foot climb.

Day 6: Fri, Sep 11, 2015 - Littlefield, AZ to Ivins, UT [35.5, 5:16:31, 6.7 mph, 3,122']

I debated riding over to the store for breakfast but ended up having breakfast in my room.  As I was packing up I discovered I had been running my chromebook on battery so I plugged it in and waited 30 minutes to give it a reasonable charge.  Then I rode across the road to the store and picked up a couple pastries for the day.

Today's ride featured a constant climb for 18 miles up Hwy 91.  You could see the road going straight up the wide open space to the base of the mountains and then it wasn't obvious where it went.  I usually imagine climbs like this as really hard and then they end up being not too bad.  For some reason I didn't think this climb would be too bad but it turned out harder than I anticipated.  After initially climbing at 7 mph I steadily dropped off until I was climbing 3-4 mph the rest of the way.

As usual it was hot and there was a little breeze.  Unfortunately, the breeze was a tail wind which didn't help to cool me off.  After grinding for almost 12 miles I stopped for a break.  I would have liked to have some shade but there was nothing in sight.  Since the day was a long climb without any services I had filled one of my water bladders in addition to the 3 large and 1 regular water bottles I always carry.  Since I had emptied my large and regular water bottle, I uncovered the water bladder under my tent/sleeping bag and discovered it had a leak.  So instead of having the equivalent of 2 extra large water bottles in the bladder I only had half of a large water bottle.

After riding on a little ways I finally saw where the road wound its way through a gap in the mountains.  And immediately there was a large rock outcrop with lots of shade, just what I had given up on finding.  So I stopped for a few more minutes to take advantage of the shade.  Then I decided to use one of my two large bottles that were packed in my rear panniers and discovered an empty water bottle.  That left me with a single large water bottle for the rest of the way.  I figured that would be just enough but I went from a very comfortable water supply to half of what I thought I had and barely enough.

I sipped cautiously from my remaining water bottle the rest of the climb.  At least one thing turned out better than expected – I thought it was an 18 mile climb but it turned out to be only 17 miles.  I also thought the climb was 3,000 feet and it turned out to be 2,535 feet according to my altimeter with no descending during the climb.

The next 7 miles were a nice descent and a great view.  I found myself riding towards a huge red mountain wall that was something like 5 miles wide.  Shortly I came to a food mart and stopped for my first cold drink.  I drank two 32oz drinks along with a sandwich and filled two of my water bottles.

From there it was only a few more miles to the Snow Canyon State Park although it took a little maneuvering to get from Hwy 91 to the other side of the valley.  As I rode into the park I discovered the huge red mountain wall was part of the canyon that formed the park.  I got a tent site for $20 with a nice shaded area for my tent and right up against a red sandstone wall.  The camping fee also included a shower which featured a chain pull to turn on the water, a reasonable way to keep folks from wasting too much water on luxurious showers.


 

Day 7: Sat, Sep 12, 2015 - Ivins, UT to Hurricane, UT [27.8, 2:59:30, 9.3 mph, 1,338']

It was a strange night.  When I crawled into my tent at 8 pm, I wasn't sweating wearing only shorts.  Then later it cooled off more and I put on my jersey.  Then, unheard of, it got cooler and I rolled out my sleeping bag and crawled inside without zipping it up.  Needless to say, I slept better.

The morning was great when I got up close to 7:30, which was really 6:30 but Utah was on Mountain Time.  It was pleasantly cool and the sun was just coming over the mountains and the sunlight filtered down the western side of the canyon.

There wasn't anything nearby for breakfast but St. George was just 10 miles away so I packed up and left.  Yesterday I was surprised how slow I was riding to the campground.  I assumed I was just tired from the climb up Hwy 91.  Today I found out the real reason.  It was uphill and now downhill today.  I coasted out of the park and continued to coast with easy pedaling into St. George except for one modest climb.

Near St. George there was a small shopping center with a breakfast place.  It looked more upscale than I cared for but it was convenient so I stopped.  I had a good breakfast and the place had WiFi.  I had originally planned to stay in St. George and basically take a rest day.  I could have made it all the way to Zion but I wanted to skip the weekend to give myself a better chance to get a campsite in the park.  Using the WiFi I decided it made more sense to continue halfway to Hurricane, just another 20 miles.  Then I would have 22 miles to Zion tomorrow.  This would give me a better chance to get to Zion early enough to get a campsite in the park.

I left the breakfast place at 10 am and rode a little further south then took St George Blvd across town.  Just on the other side of the Interstate I picked up Red Cliffs Dr which changed names a couple of time along the way until it intersected UT9 which went all the way to Zion.  At the intersection I stopped for a cold drink.  Then it was just another 10 miles to Hurricane.

During my earlier research I found the Willow Wind RV Park where I got a campsite for $28.  It was mostly an RV park but there were some tent sites.  The tent sites weren't great but they had several large trees that provided good shade so they were fine.  This was a good location in the middle of town just off the main highway.  Next door was a Wendy where I treated myself to a vanilla Frosty.  There was a grocery store across the street where I picked up a couple of items.

Another nice feature of the RV Park was it had a clubhouse.  The tent sites were on the lawn just outside the clubhouse so it was a convenient place to use the WiFi.  I checked Zion camping and found I was able to secure a reservation for a walk-in tent site for the next two nights for $16 with my senior discount.  Unfortunately, all the sites in the campgrounds supposedly have no shade.  On the other hand the temperature was suppose to drop some but there was also the chance of thunderstorms as well.

It was nice to have the campground situation out of the way.  Now I just had to hope the rain wouldn't put a damper on everything.  Interestingly, the clubhouse had a computer in it and a guy was using it when I entered and still using it when I left.  I thought he was doing something serious but he was apparently playing solitaire the entire time.

After cleaning up I walked a bit through town and found a BBQ place that advertised itself as voted the best in Utah the last 3 years.  I wonder who did the voting.  It was fine but nothing suggested it was the best in the state, but maybe that's the state of BBQ in the state...

When I got back to the RV Park I wanted to use the clubhouse WiFi again but discovered it was locked.  So I walked to the office to inquire if that was to be expected and discovered the office was locked.  Turned out they both closed at 5 pm.  That was unfortunate since the clubhouse also had a TV which could have been useful for some football watching.

Anyway, an easy day that turned out well.

Day 8: Sun, Sep 13, 2015 - Hurricane, UT to Zion National Park, UT [42.6, 4:50:15, 8.8 mph, 1,916']

Since I already had reservations at Zion for camping I wasn't pressured to get going quickly.  I packed up and rode across the street for breakfast at McDonald's, not the greatest choice but the proprietress explicitly recommended not going to the one real breakfast place.  I had the big breakfast with hot cakes which was okay.

I left around 8:30 with about 24 miles to Zion.  The first few miles were flat and then there was a big climb at La Verkin.  After that it was a fairly reasonable route following the Virgin River to Zion.  The scenery kept getting better the closer I got to Zion with majestic cliffs contrasted with the green trees and shrubs along the river.

I reached Springdale at 11:30, stopped for a cold drink, and then continued on to the park with high cliffs surrounding the area and introducing the Zion Canyon.  The Watchman Campground, where I had reservations, was conveniently located next to the visitor center.  The campground sign said full as I checked in with no waiting.

I set up camp in the walk-in tent campground and then walked to the visitor center to get situated.  I decided to ride my bicycle the 8 miles to the end of the canyon since I didn't really have anything else to do.  It was also reasonably nice weather.  There were wispy clouds that increased through the day and when the sun was hidden it was quite pleasant.

The further up the canyon the closer the sandstone walls came in.  The big problem was they were too high and too close to get good photos but I tried.  At the end of the canyon I hiked the easy Riverside Walk, 2 miles roundtrip.   This walk took me to The Narrows where the walls hemmed in and the only place to walk was up the river, which can be dangerous due to flash flooding.  I walked just to the beginning of The Narrows and got my feet wet in the river and then retreated.  I could have gone further but the rocks were slippery and walking sticks would have been really desirable.

I thought the canyon road was pretty flat but it was much easier riding back with easy pedaling.  The park has a shuttle system and doesn't allow vehicular traffic through the canyon.  Bicycles are required to stop and let the shuttle pass when encountered on the road.  On the way up the canyon I let several shuttles pass but none on the way back, a reflection of the fast pace returning to the campground.

When I got back to camp I was starved and there was the Springdale Pub conveniently located just outside the park which was a short walk from the campground.  I had a buffalo burger which was good but was shocked at a $20 bill for the burger and soda, about a 100% markup.  The menu conveniently didn't list prices which should have warned me.  The menu listed prices as integer numbers and the buffalo burger was a 16 and I never saw a translation of what that meant until I got my bill.  Turns out what I thought was a code was the actual price - $16.  There is a market attached to the pub and I picked up a few things.  I expect tomorrow I'll shop at the market for my dinner.

By 6:00 pm clouds were threatening and there were a few sprinkles.  It wasn't clear whether there would be real rain or just teases.

A good day with great scenery.  It was a relief to not have to worry about getting a campsite and I got in an afternoon of sight seeing.

Day 9: Mon, Sep 14, 2015 - Zion National Park, UT

The main plan for today was to do the Angel's Landing Hike and getting started early was recommended.  I had originally planned to bike to the Grotto where the hike starts but then realized it would be better to take the shuttle.  That way I wouldn't be carrying any bike related equipment like a helmet.

The first shuttle started at 6am followed by 6:30 am and then about every 10 minutes.  It didn't get light until about 7 am so I wasn't in a hurry to start before daylight.  I had my cereal breakfast and then filled up my water bottles and walked to the shuttle station at the visitor center, a short walk.  I got there just in time to catch the 7 am shuttle.

By 7:30 I got off the shuttle and was on the trail.  This hike ended up on Angel's Landing, 1500 feet above the canyon floor, so it required some serious climbing.  The first part of the climbing wasn't that bad because it was all on flat surfaces although there were a bunch of switchbacks, most notable Walter's Wiggles, some 22 switchbacks named after Walter, a Zion superintendent.  After an hour of hiking in cool, cloudy weather I reached Scout's Landing where the real climbing began for those who chose to continue on. 

This point on was labeled as treacherous in the park guide, presumably to scare off folks who have no business trying to do this climb, either because they don't have the conditioning or they are afraid of heights.  The climb started off up a narrow rock wall where there were chain lines for the difficult sections.  It was about a half mile climb that required some care.

At one point it started to sprinkle and I wasn't sure I wanted to continue but others did and no rain really developed.  It did get colder and I was glad I had my rain gear with me to provide some warmth.  Some had only shorts and short sleeve shirts which wasn't appropriate for the conditions.

It was a great panoramic view at the end of the climb with Angel's Landing jutting out into canyon, 1500 feet above the canyon floor.  There were 8-10 folks on the point when I was there.  After spending about 15-20 minutes I started down, partly because the weather was uncertain and I didn't want to get caught descending on wet rocks.  However, my timing was a little off and it started raining before I was down off the narrow wall.  I put on my rain pants and continued descending a little more carefully.  Two guys ahead of me look partially terrified as they inched their way down.  They probably shouldn't have been on the climb.

Once I was off the narrow wall, the rest was just a matter of hiking down switchbacks on a flat trail.  I finished by 10:30 and there were a lot of people hiking up as I was hiking down, as this is one of the most popular climbs in the park even though it is rated a strenuous climb requiring a typical 4 hours roundtrip.  Again it was amazing the variety of preparation or lack thereof for the hikers.

It was a great hike despite the uncertain weather and the cool weather made the hiking somewhat easier.  I carried two water bottles and ended using no water.  I doubt that would have been the case if it had been very warm.

With my two major goals out of the way – cycling the canyon road and hiking Angel's Landing – I had to decide what to do the rest of the day.  I knew I didn't want to do more hiking since I had just done a pretty strenuous hike and tomorrow's ride heading east involved a serious climb of 3,500 feet.  So I needed to rest up and I found a good way to do that – I rode the shuttle through the canyon and back, an 80-minute ride.  It was perfect for resting my legs and seeing the park again.

After that I spent some more time checking out the displays around the visitor center.  The weather continued to vary from nice to threatening.  At about 4:45 pm it stopped threatening and hit with some force.  It became very windy and rained hard, with the wind driving the rain sideways along with some small hail.  I was in the campground so I just holed up in my tent.  This lasted for about 45 minutes until the sky cleared again.

Unfortunately, there was a lot of rain in those 45 minutes and that caused some problems in the campground.  The problem was the tent area was a rectangular area bordered by posts laid sideways in the ground.  The border was a little higher than the ground and water was trapped inside the tent boundary area.  I had water building up to the side of my tent on the low side with the water having no place to go.  Seems like a rather poor design to confine the water to where they confine the tents.

I was able to use a tent peg to dig a little trench to allow the water to drain out of my tent area.  Some others weren't so lucky and had to move their tents.

As I was writing these notes it was clouding up again and it looked like more rain for the night.  The bigger question was what the weather would be like tomorrow.  It was projected to be 40% probability of showers which was down a little from today's 50% probability.  Hopefully I will be able to get out of the park heading east and on my way to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

 


 

Copyright Denis Kertz, 2015. All rights reserved.