Sunday, October 3, 2010

Day 3 Hog Springs - Natural Bridges

Someone said that it was almost all downhill for 17 miles until the turn off for Hite. Hite is a little Marina town that has one store that has a few microwave meals, ice cream, drinks and snacks. You have to take a little road for a mile to get to the store. It was slightly chilly when I started out but I quickly took off the warm clothes when the road started climbing. Pretty soon, I began to realize that whoever told me it was a downhill run was lying. There were some downhill portions but it was predominately uphill and very steep in parts at that.

Coming close to Lake Powell.

There was a scenic turn off that I took because the view was amazing...but the turn off climbed up a very steep hill. Only two of us made that climb but the view was worth it.

This downhill section was a lot of fun. It had me screaming in joy.

Lake Powell. The view of Lake Powell was very brief but we followed the river for a while.

I passed up the turn to Hite because it was about 10:30 at that point and already super hot. I wanted an ice cream and ice water and air conditioning like you wouldn't believe but it would have been one more mile of uphill that I just couldn't make myself do. You see, I was having cramps and feeling like I would throw up with every pedal turn. I wanted the day to be over as quickly as was very bad timing. Not only was this the day with the most climbing, the most miles, the hottest weather, I was also sick to boot. I thought I might die alone in the desert. It was about this point that I saw a black dot in the distance moving at about the same speed as me...another cyclist. For about an hour, I chased that black dot as if my life depended on it. Every time it would turn a corner or go over a hill, I felt like I was all alone in the world and a little distraught even though he was no further than he was before her disappeared. It was a tough day, mentally as well as physically.

This is how dry it was out there.

Eventually, I caught up to Rob, the small black dot I had been chasing. It really lifted my spirits to be able to talk to someone when I was feeling so awful. We rode together about 10 minutes before I sped up and slowly, he faded behind me.

The road continued to climb and the sun was beating down. I was feeling quite demoralized and while I was passing some BEAUTIFUL country, I couldn't concentrate on it long enough through the total misery of the day to take as many pictures as the landscape deserved.

I found a little shade and sat in it for a bit. As I was walking back to my bike, my bike fell over and dumped a couple bags as well as the contents of my handlebar bag since it was open. One of the things that fell out was my thermometer. Here's the proof of the heat.

It was at about this time that I started on my last bottle of water. It was super hot and I was exhausted. I heard some birds tweeting and I began talking to them, asking them to bring me water. I was scanning the horizon for any sign of Robert's car. He came along so we could have water on these long, waterless days. He would park his car somewhere on the route with a 5 gallon water jug sitting next to it so we could have access to it. I was afraid I was going to run out of water before I came across his car. I was on my last 1/4 of the last bottle when I saw a gleaming red car. Of all the wonderful, beautiful things I saw that day, this was suddenly, the most amazing thing I ever beheld. The promise of life giving water. My spirits were lifted and instead of crying to the birds, I was singing with them and found a reserve of energy that I used to pedal faster to the water.

I dumped some water on my head, filled up my bottles, grabbed some food for lunch and pulled my sleeping pad off the bike. I went under a large, shady juniper tree and ate my lunch. Rob came in while I was still eating and joined me. I just couldn't find the energy to get back on my bike when Rob left. I laid on the pad for a bit until I decided I just needed to bite the bullet and get it over with.

After some more climbing, I was in a juniper and pinon forest. It was SO green, like a wall to wall carpet. I had never expected to see such a thing in the Utah desert.

The sun was sinking lower and lower and by now, Rob and I were thinking about dinner. He was saying that if he was out much longer he may resort to stopping to cook dinner on the side of the road. That got me to thinking about food. There were two problems with that for me. One, all my dinner food was in Robert's car and 2, my stove decided it didn't want to work that morning and would need some TLC before I could get it to work again, which would require oil from Robert's oil dip stick.

But we finally made it to the turn to the park. Just 4 more miles. The sun was touching the horizon and blinding us. I was watching my mirror for any cars because I knew there was no way they could see me. No cars passed me. I stopped at the park office to use the restroom and filled up my water bottles before going down to camp where there was no running water.

Robert had just started his car up to come look for us when I pulled up.

It was a race to get my tent set up before the light faded. I was trying to do that when I started getting really shaky and weak. Tricia noticed and got my food from me and cooked my dinner for me. Rob Jones, not the same Rob I had been riding with, cooked up some noodles and gave me half. I needed that food so badly (and a lot more).

I slipped into my tent and fell asleep.

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