Because there’s so much to see in the desert, I slowed down a bit through North Arizona and Utah to take it all in. Coyote Buttes is an area of Arizona which has been formed through extreme depositing and erosion cycles. As the wind shifted direction over time, there’s alternating patterns of rock. It’s very pretty, looks like Mars.
From there, went to an area called White Pocket, which has rocks that look like brains. Geologists don’t know why, but they have a few theories which I don’t really understand – something about earthquakes, or sediment deposit. Whatever the cause, it led to some stunning formations.
To get to these areas took about an hour of driving off-road. Not another soul to be found and a permit is needed due to their remoteness and to avoid too many people.
From Kanab to Springdale, where I met with another touring cyclist, Maggie, who’s riding from Rhode Island to San Fran to promote plastic container waste awareness (https://www.facebook.com/CycleforOne/?pnref=story). So that’s nice. But it did mean my first action shot (hard to take pictures of yourself while cycling).
Springdale is a small town which is the gateway to Zion National Park. There’s a very efficient shuttle service which goes from town every 10 minutes to another shuttle up to the different (and well mapped) trail heads in the park. I did two hikes: Angel’s Landing and the Narrows.
Angel’s Landing is probably up there with my favourite experiences of the whole trip. It’s a 75 minute hike, split into 3 sections: a steep hike up a cliff face, 21 ridiculous switchbacks so steep you can’t see past 2 or 3 when you look down, and a scramble up rocks with a mile drop either side of you. The final section was tough – there’s a chain to help pull yourself up. I grunted a lot.
The way down took just as long, with slow, deliberate lowering down on to the rocks. Great fun.
The next day I did the Zion Narrows, which is a hike up through a river to the area where the canyon walls narrow (hence the name). Rented a pole and water shoes in town, which definitely helped. Didn’t quite enjoy this as much as I probably should have. Possibly tired, possibly canyonfatigued, possibly overwhelmed by the billions of people there (I overslept and went too late to miss the people).
While hiking through a river is definitely fun and an experience, you need to focus on the ground, not the mile high canyon walls around you. And because everything is packed away in a dry bag, it takes about five minutes to take a picture. Still, stunning.
From Springdale to St George and Cedar City, through the beautiful Snow Canyon, which has some of the steepest hills I’ve had all trip (10% for a mile FFS).
St George and Cedar City are both reasonable sized towns (30k population ish) where I could get some supplies and much needed rest.
Had to go to the doctor for a prescription – 4 hour wait, $115 and they email the prescription to the pharmacy, so if the pharmacy is closed, you’re out of luck. Miss the NHS.
That’s it for the desert now – clocking in at 2,503 miles and 109,000′ of elevation. Annoyingly, Cedar City is at 5,800′ elevation and I started at sea level, so that means I got jipped out of 5,800′ of a descent.
Bike is all packed up and being shipped to Maine tomorrow for the next leg along the east coast. It’s a delicious low 20s over there, looking forward to it – as well as seeing wifey for the first time since April.