Denis Kertz, ©2015
It rained off and on all night but my tent stayed dry. It was very cloudy when I got up in the morning with some occasional drizzle. It didn't look too good.
I walked to the market just outside the park and got a couple breakfast sandwiches and a banana. Then I kind of waited to see what the weather might do. I didn't have a lot of options. If I wanted to stay I would have had to change camp site. There was also no guarantee tomorrow would be better since the weather forecast was similar.
In the end I packed up and left around 9:15 and made sure
my rain gear was accessible. I rode the
Pa’rus trail to the Canyon Junction, following along the
First thing I had to do was climb 1,000 feet over 3.6 miles via several switchbacks to get to the tunnel. By this time the sun was peeking through and the weather was looking much better. When I pulled over at the last turnout before the tunnel there was a guy parked along the road and taking some photos. When he saw me he asked if I wanted a ride through the tunnel and I said sure. That's how I met Seth Hammel, a local adventure/landscape photographer – http://www.sethhamel.com/about-seth?#!/page/171926/home. I wasn't sure how easy or hard it was going to be to get a ride through the tunnel but Seth made it easy. As it turned out, he wasn't even going through the tunnel as I thought – he was just being a good guy and giving me a ride.
The problem with the tunnel is it was built when there weren't monstrosities like RVs and tour busses so the tunnel isn't wide enough to allow 2-way traffic when these vehicles are involved. So tunnel traffic becomes one-way traffic. We had to wait about 15 minutes before we could get through. I had assumed Seth was continuing on but he just turned around and got back in line for the return trip. That left us plenty of time to get my bike out the back of his SUV and I was on my way.
There was more climbing on the way to Mt Carmel and even
another tunnel which was short enough, maybe 200 yards, to ride right
through. The scenery was quite different
At 11:15 I stopped for my second breakfast. I had neglected this practice previously on this trip because it was so warm that cereal with very warm water and with powdered milk just wasn't appealing. Now it was in the 60s and my water was still cool. There was also an RV park later where I was able to get a cold drink.
I enjoyed the ride to Mt Carmel with the diversity of
landscape. The last 5 miles or so were mostly downhill
and I arrived in Mt Carmel at 1:30 pm.
Apparently Mt Carmel was a bus stop for folks on their way to
I had my usual cold drink and then headed south on US89 to Kanab. I was expecting the weather to be kind of crappy and thought I might end up staying in Mt Carmel but the weather was still fine and it was just another 17 miles to Kanab.
Those 17 miles started with a 1000 foot climb over 5 miles and then it was downhill. Kanab was a tourist town with a zillion motels, a town of 4300 founded by the Mormons, and known as “Little Hollywood” due to the filming of a number of westerns. I figured I would find a motel and avoid any bad weather. And as I was looking it started raining, reinforcing the motel idea. As I passed through town I saw several affordable looking motels but they were booked. At the south end of town there was an information place and I got more ideas including The Cowboy Bunkhouse, which was a hostel. Of course it was at the other end of town so I had to go back through town and found it was completely booked. So I made another pass through town and took US89 east and there I finally found a motel with a room because some motorcyclist had an accident and had cancelled his reservation. Apparently this was one of the cheaper places in town and it still cost $70. It wasn't a great room or location but the other option was camping and the rain didn't make that look inviting.
First thing I did after checking in was head out for food as I was starving. This wasn't a great location but there was a small Mexican restaurant nearby where I had a pretty decent burrito.
The day turned out great despite the inauspicious start. I wouldn't have bet any money that I would make it to Kanab, my desired destination, without getting rained on.
I had to ride part of the way back into town to find
The next destination was the North Rim of the
Today's destination was
Along the way I looked back in my mirror and thought I saw
what looked like a cyclist approaching but then I saw nothing. A short while later I stopped along side the
road for my second breakfast and a touring couple passed by. They were on their way to the North Rim also
but they expected to go a little further than
It was pretty windy in the morning and mostly a cross wind which threatened to blow me into traffic. I stopped for my second breakfast when I passed by a cutout in a small hill which gave some protection from the wind.
There was about a 3-mile stretch where the climbing was really hard – all uphill and no relief. Then the last 9 miles became more forgiving with some roller coasters. Shortly after 3 pm I rolled into town. I was really glad to make town because I had been dragging. It was a fairly cool day with a high in the low 70s so I never had water problems.
A pretty hard day despite the fairly low mileage. Fortunately, the wind never became the problem that I thought it might.
The Jacob Lack Store opened for breakfast at 6:30 and I got there around 7 which was a bad time. There was a U shaped counter that held 22 people and there were only 2 seats open. I grabbed one but service was very slow. It took about 10 minutes before I got coffee and a menu. After I ordered the waitress came by a few minutes later to take the order for another guy and asked if I wanted to order and I had to remind here I already had ordered. She wasn't the swiftest of waitresses.
I left around 8 and immediately started climbing. Today was a little longer than yesterday but about a thousand fewer feet of climbing. The climbing continued for about 15 miles but not that steeply and it had ups and down so wasn't too bad. The scenery wasn't great but it was okay and the ride was enjoyable with some nice meadows along the way.
At 11 I stopped for my second breakfast after looking for a while for a place to pull over. Of course, a few miles later I discovered there was a store where I could have gotten real milk for my cereal.
With about 10 miles to go I saw a cyclist resting at one
of the turnouts. I stopped and learned
he was with an Adventure Cycling trip that started and finished in
The rest of the way was mostly downhill with a couple of
climbs. I arrived at the North Rim
shortly after 2 pm and headed for the campground. The campground was full but they had
hiker-biker sites and I got assigned one at a cost of $6. I also ended up with the best view in the
campground – I could see the canyon from my site. Not surprisingly, I also found the touring
couple set up in the site next to mine.
Interestingly, the ranger who signed me up for the campground was a
petite woman who had hiked the Appalachian Trail and was looking to hike the
Pacific Coast Trail, or perhaps hike the
After I set up my tent I walked to the lodge for
food. It was about a 1.5 mile hike with
views of the canyon along the way. When I got near the lodge I just continued
the rest of the way to the
When I got back to the camp site I found the touring
couple who I learned later was a Spanish guy and a Polish woman. I offered them the pizza and they later
offered me some wine. After I cleaned up
a bit I joined them as they were cooking.
I learned they were on an extended trip starting in
A nice day with a good day of riding and ending up in great campsite and talking with an interesting couple.
It was nice to have a day where I didn't have to pack up and could approach the day more leisurely and not be in a hurry to get out of town. I wandered up to the campground store and managed to get something to eat but I was disappointed to find almost nothing in the way of cereal now that I was out of cereal. If I had known this was going to be such a problem I would have bought cereal in Kanab.
The good thing about the store was it had free WiFi and a place to plug in to recharge my laptop and phone. So I went back to my camp and retrieved my charging equipment and got caught up on email.
Later I walked to the lodge and checked out the visitor center and got a bit to eat. The important information I learned was the restaurant had a breakfast buffet so that took care of my breakfast plans for tomorrow morning.
When I got back to camp I took care of some bicycle maintenance and then took a shower. Most national parks don't have shower facilities but this one had them as part of the Laundromat.
Finally I went back to the store and took advantage of the WiFi again.
I packed up and rode a mile or so to the Lodge for the buffet breakfast. When I got to the restaurant it was packed and I was afraid I was going to have to wait a while but they cleared out tables pretty quickly and I waited maybe 10 minutes. This was a $15 deal and I did my best to get my money's worth.
I was on the road by 8 am.
I expected a fairly easy ride of 44 miles with a little more than 2,000
feet of climbing. I met a couple of the
guys who were part of the
Although the scenery wasn't anything special it was an
enjoyable ride and I reached
In the end I decided to push on, mainly because I didn't
particularly want to hang around
Despite the longer than expected time, it was a fantastic
ride. At the end of the descent from the
plateau through rocky hills and trees the scenery opened into a wide open vista
with the Vermillion Cliffs jutting into view as they stuck 1500 feet above the
floor. The road passed along the
southern boundary of the Vermillion Cliffs and crept closer and closer to the
cliffs on the way to
But end it did. I
stopped at a place called Cave Dwellers for a cold drink and then I stopped at
We took the turn off to Lee's Ferry and rode through more great scenery for about 5 miles to the campground in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. My big fear was that this was a Saturday evening and the campground would be filled but it was at most 50% filled when we got there.
We ended up in a group site where we pitched our two tents and paid $4 each for what is normally a $16 site, using my 50% off senior pass. It had gotten fairly warm descending from a starting elevation of over 8,000 feet to about 3,500 feet but it cooled off nicely after the sun set.
A very enjoyable riding day of 90+ miles through some spectacular scenery around the Vermillion Cliffs.
I packed up and rode back to town, a 5 mile almost 500 foot climb. The morning sun was reflecting off the Vermillion Cliffs and it was super nice. I found a restaurant as part of the lodge and was happy to find a breakfast buffet, probably a weekend deal. I had a couple plates of the usual breakfast stuff including French toast and then two cereal servings of these small, not much more than bite sized, containers that you just add milk. A pretty good deal for $11.
I left town about 8:30 and crossed the
Since I had caught up with Andreas/Dominica yesterday at
When I got to the junction I could see cars were heading left but I couldn't see where they were going until I realized the road climbed up the side of the Echo Cliffs. There were some good views along the way and at the last view from the side of the cliffs there were about 6 tables staffed by Navajos where they displayed their wares.
Shortly after this stop I crested the climb after 24 miles and it was a 20 mile downhill to Page. Unfortunately, some dumbo had decided to put rumble strips in the middle of what would have been a good 4 foot shoulder. As a result I could ride just barely outside the white line. Several vehicles passed rather closely to me whereas people usually gave me a wide berth. I suspect these folks thought I wasn't riding responsibly by staying in the middle of the shoulder, not realizing there was an unrideable rumble strip there.
I reached Page around 1:30 and stopped at the first food
mart for a cold drink and an ice cream.
Then I continued on for another couple miles to the Glen Canyon
Dam. There wasn't a whole lot to see
there but I did see the dam and part of the
It was a pretty big climb back up the road where I took the detour into Page, a town of 7200 initially formed in 1957 as a housing community for the workers and families during the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam. I had pretty much decided I would stay an extra day so I stopped at the visitor center to learn about lake cruises. The center was closed on Sundays but there was a place next door where the lady was effectively a visitor center and she gave me the scoop on two different places where there were lake cruises. She also showed me how to get to the RV Park and I was on my way.
When I got to the RV Park I found
Andreas was having problems with his rear cog for his Rohloff hub and needed to replace it and left shortly to attend to that matter. As luck would have it I also have a Rohloff hub and had the special tool needed to remove the cog. However, a chain whip was also needed and I didn't have that gizmo. There wasn't a bike shop in town but Andreas had learned about a bike rental place where he hoped he could get help which he did and was able to replace his rear cog but he said it took almost an hour to get the cog unlocked and got a lot of help from the a guy at the bike rental place.
As it turned out,
This was another scenic day with some hard climbing but the scenery made it worthwhile but civilization was a bit of a shock since I hadn't been in a real town since Kanab.
It was very windy for a couple of hours before midnight which resulted in fine red sand getting blown into my tent. I got up early so that I could visit Horseshoe Bend while the morning light was good and before the masses arrived. I ate breakfast at the food mart nearby and then headed out. It was about 5 miles to get back up the road to the Horseshoe Bend Trail. It was only about a half mile hike up a hill and down to the bend. The ease of access and hike undoubtedly contributed to the popularity of this hike.
This was a place where the Colorado River makes a 270 degree turn and the hike leads to the edge of a cliff where all this is seen 1000 feet below. Of course, I wanted to photograph this scenic wonder only to discover that my camera batteries were dead. Fortunately, I remembered I had my cell phone with me and I used its camera to take some photos. Problem was I couldn't really see what I was taking a picture of because the morning sun was washing out my cell phone's display. I took enough photos that I hoped one or two would turn out.
There were only a couple people at the bend but by the time I left after about 30 minutes the hoards were moving in on a Monday morning. The parking lot was getting full and there were two tour buses in the parking lot. So my exit timing was very good.
I rode a couple miles back into town where there was a Wal-Mart for some shopping. As I was checking out my purchases I noticed that the heel of my left sandal was flopping loose. So I had to go back and get some shoe goo to repair the loose sole. Back at the campsite I immediately applied the shoe goo and hoped that would take care of the problem.
Then I checked out the boat tour at Wahweap Marina and discovered it had a 2:30 pm 1.5 hour tour which sounded right. I wasn't sure whether Dominica/Andreas were interested so I hung around for a while to see if they would show up after their hiking. When they didn't appear by 12:30 I made a reservation for myself and headed to the marina.
It was an easy 10 mile ride that was mostly downhill to the dam and then a turnoff to the marina. When I was a couple miles away I noticed my rear wheel feeling squirrely and realized I had a flat. I stopped at a turnout to fix it. As usual I carried a small pump and a spare tube and a patch kit. I couldn't immediately find the problem with the tube so I put in the new tube and was on my way and arrived at the marina with 30 minutes to spare.
The tour itself covered some lake views and a view of the
dam and then headed for
The tour finished at 4 pm and I hurried back because I wanted to fix the bad tube while there was daylight. When I got back to my campsite I discovered that the problem was that an old patch had failed. This was surprising since the patch was at least a year old. I was able to scrape off the old patch and apply a new, hopefully better, one and I installed the repaired tube in the rear wheel and saved the unblemished tube.
There wasn't enough daylight left to go out for dinner so
I walked to the nearby food mart and made a meal and met
Normally, we would both be leaving the next day and going our respective way but the weather forecast was somewhat unsettling so neither of us was interested in challenging the weather by heading out. Originally, we had thought we would want to get motel rooms but motels seemed to be running $90 and up. Given that the weather forecast was improving, meaning not quite as severe, we decided to stay another night in the campground.
An interesting day with dead camera batteries, a flopping sandal sole, and a flat tire and a spectacular vista at Horseshoe Bend.
Today was an easy day. With the uncertain weather, we all decided to lay over another day. As it turns out the weather was fine but the forecast had included the possibility of heavy rain.
I rode into town looking for breakfast and found only a drive-in place, not bothering to check any motel restaurants. I had a decent ham, eggs, hash browns, toast and coffee for a reasonable $7.
After that I rode to the dam to check out the visitor
center and this turned out to be a really good place. I arrived at 8 am and was concerned they
might not be open yet but the place was teeming with visitors. By far the most impressive part of the
visitor center was a relief map display that showed the Glen Canyon National Recreation
Area. It was created by a guy in the
1960s by carving Styrofoam with dental tools and it was amazing. It was great to see Lee's Ferry, Page, and
Also interesting was that the Mormons who used the crossing had followed a similar route as my bicycle route – along the Vermilion Cliffs to Lee's Ferry and then along the Echo Cliffs up to the junction with 89 where our paths separated. They must have had an easier time since they weren't carrying everything on their bicycle although their road was probably not paved...
The ranger was also helpful when I noted I was riding through Kaibito on my way to Kayenta. He pointed out there were several small places along the way where I would be able to get a drink on this near 100 mile route. However, there were still some logistic problems with where to stay. I'm hoping I can pitch a tent somewhere in Kaibito which would make a reasonable 35-mile, 2500 foot climb day and make the next day a more reasonable 55-mile, 3500 foot climb day. I doubt I'm capable of a near 100-mile day with 6000 feet of climbing, especially when it will probably be near 90 degrees, and finish in daylight.
I spent 2 hours at the visitor center and most of that time at the relief map as others crowded around the map and I listened to their questions and the ranger's explanations. I hadn't expected this 2-hour time to be that interesting and valuable.
After leaving the visitor center I took a scenic road on
the way back to Page where there was a great view of the dam looking northeast
and of the
Later, I ate again at the Big John's Texas BBQ and then settled in for the night with some trepidation about the upcoming trip to Kayenta. It might be somewhat easier if Kayenta had a campground or reasonable motels but their motels looked to run $150 per night and up.
I was up at 6am.
When I packed up my tent I had to dump out all the red sand from the
strong winds the other night. Then I
said good-bye to
I was on the road by 7:30 hoping to be able to stay in
Kaibito. This road was supposed to be a scenic
road but there wasn't anything particularly scenic for the first 20 miles. It was mostly a matter of climbing through
desert land with desert shrubs. It would undoubtedly look better heading to
After a couple of hours I stopped for my second breakfast and then cranked away again. Eventually the scenery improved as the road climbed to a higher altitude where the land became rockier with some stunted trees.
I reached Kaibito a little before 1 pm and stopped at the gas/food mart/grocery store/post office in the town of 1500, a little off the main highway. After a couple of cold drinks I inquired about some place for throwing up a tent overnight. There was a small church at the back left corner of the parking lot and that was a suggested place. When I went there to inspect the location a guy from the store came out and suggested I not camp where I would have because there was some drinking traffic in that area. He suggested I check with the residence next to the church.
Unfortunately, the residence owner wasn't around and I ended up hanging around the store for several hours. It was kind of interesting to watch the folks come and go. This was Navajo Nation so these were mostly Navajos with an occasional gringo passing through. The Navajos were generally very friendly and often asking about my trip. There were also some stray dogs wandering through the parking lot. One in particular approached me and laid down and stared when I got something to eat. Obviously, he was hoping for a handout.
Eventually the residence owner showed up and there was no problem with throwing up my tent in what was basically a wide driveway. It was a little gravely and not the best but it was sufficient. I cleaned up at the store, got something else to eat, and settled in for the night.
I packed up and was up at the food mart at 7 am when it was open. I made breakfast and was on my way by 7:30.
After an initial descent there was a 10 mile or so moderate climb with a view of the White Mesa on my right. After that climb it was mostly downhill to the intersection with US160. After several hours I started looking for a good place for my second breakfast. I never found anything really good so when I saw a tree with some shade I opted for that.
Of course, as seems to be the case that something better turns up shortly, within about a mile there was a trading post. I stopped again and loaded up on a cold Gatorade. When I turned into the trading post there was a touring cyclist thumbing a ride, presumably to Page. He was gone by the time I left.
I thought there would be something at the US160 intersection but there wasn't so I headed north to Kayenta. There was some head wind that kept me cool but it also started getting stronger through the afternoon. It was hard to know whether to curse it for slowing me down a little or thank it for keeping me cool.
Thirteen miles north on US160 at the turnoff to the
There had been a good shoulder on US160 until I left Black Mesa and then it became a mess, almost unrideable at times. The traffic was too fast and too frequent to cheat and ride just inside the lane so I suffered through it.
Today had a couple options for stopping. I could have ridden 9 miles out of the way to
There was also a
The motel also had a restaurant which neatly solved the
food issue as well. On top of that there
was a good view of the
Today there were more stray dogs. There were 4 or 5 at Kaibito, 3 or 4 at Black Mesa, and a couple at the motel. I don't know if these were truly strays or they just had nothing better to do. At least a couple of them appeared to be looking for food although none of them appeared to be starving.
It was great to just wake up in the morning and walk next door for breakfast. I had 3 thick pancakes and that was all I needed.
The 10 miles to Kayenta were modestly downhill. The shoulder was in good shape but there were a number of places with guardrails where I was hemmed in by the guardrails and the six-inch wide rumble strip. Several times I had to move out to the white line because there was only about a foot of space otherwise.
I reached Kayenta by 8:30 and then turned north on 163. This road had several long stretches of miles in the distance with some great views. Unfortunately, this was all marred by some boneheads. The first occurred when there was a string of traffic coming from the other direction led by a wide RV. Then another wide RV pulled out and decided to try to pass 3 or 4 vehicles at one time. It was obvious he couldn't make it before reaching me but it didn't stop him. He plowed on ahead leaving me toeing the shoulder. I couldn't easily bail out because the shoulder angled off and I most likely would have crashed if I had bailed. So I held my line as he passed me with a couple feet to spare. I had the presence of mind to give him the one finger salute and in return he had the audacity to honk at me.
This put me in a foul mood. In my dream I replayed the scene played chicken with him and just got in the middle of my lane and forced him to crash off the road. Dream on.
This was all put behind me when another bonehead driver decided to also pass into me. An SUV started to pull out to pass the vehicle in front of him, seemed to hesitate as if he saw me, and then pulled out anyway while I held up my hand in a stop signal. Didn't bother him at all and he also got a one finger salute. What was really galling was all he had to do was wait 10 seconds and we would have passed and he could have passed at his leisure. But he didn't even have the decency to do that.
Two major league assholes in one morning separated by about a half hour.
So I turned around and headed to the Gouldings Campground which was the right choice. It was a couple miles off the road but there was a food mart, grocery store, and restaurant in addition to the campground. I got a good tent site for $30.
After setting up my camp site I rode to the food mart and was happy to find a personal pizza along with a cold drink. Then I rode up to the visitor center which was much easier on my unloaded bike. There was a long line at the check-in booth that took about 20 minutes before I paid my $10 as a cyclist to get in.
The scenery was great from the visitor center and there was some interesting displays inside. I also found in the gift shop with what I needed in the morning – a .45 caliber six-shooter. I would like to have been pinging some lead off those two vehicles while they were passing in my lane.
I spent a couple of hours at the visitor center and then headed back to my campsite. I had another personal pizza at the food mart and then I cleaned up and wrote my day's notes.
Copyright Denis Kertz, 2015. All rights reserved.