I left Moab, headed N to catch 70W and then took 24 S and W to Canyonlands NP. Butler Maps lists 24 as a lost highway. " Beyond high Mtn. passes and plunging canyon rds that reach out to the horizon and the unknown beyond. The faded paint of a centerline, the crumbling shoulder is all that remains of these byways that seem lost in time. Void of the trappings of modern life, they provide a motorcycling experience as unique as the untouched landscapes they divide." That pretty much sums it up. I felt in the moment, more than I have on this trip so far. At the same time, I wondered if I really was crazy, and if I was, what did that really mean?
I began singing Christmas Carols and Hymns...... not because I am particularly fond of them, but because I know all the words and I sound better to myself singing them. Since I wear ear plugs, when I sing while I ride, I can really hear myself....... if you have ever heard me sing, you know where I'm going with this. For some reason, I can sing Christmas Carols and some Hymns on key -- whatever that means.
Entering Capital Reef --- 24 turned into a really fun ride. Gentle sweeping curves, beautiful blues and greens in the layers of red rock. A geologic monocline on the earth - The Waterpocket Fold extends almost a 100 miles. Think wrinkles. This park was my favorite of any NP I have been to so far. It was empty. I would soon learn why.
Monday, I traveled 12S toward Zion. I had planned on going N towards Great Basin. One of the advantages of doing a trip like this, I can change my mind anytime I feel like it. No rational reason why I changed my mind, just a feeling. " Journey through Time" and "Million Dollar Rd" ( another one, the first one I tried, I didn't finish.) Through Dixie National Forest - Aquarius Plateau -- Escalante National Monument and into Zion NP. The morning was incredible, there are not enough adjectives, or at least not in my vocabulary to describe this ride. Stopped to fuel up and eat something....... watched a little boy racing his grandfather in the parking lot. His mother screaming encouragement, "GO OWEN". I started clapping when he won...... we all smiled.
The aft. was full of rain, it started around Tropic ( where the turn off to Bryce Canyon is) .....and cold....down to 51 degrees F..... I had to put a fleece on under my jacket. Handlegrip warmers were ON. It lasted until I entered Zion NP. I felt like I had entered Heaven - low clouds, fog mixed with sunlight, all surrounding massive towering cliffs of red and white sandstone. Even the road was red. Around every corner, they was water cascading down the rock from the rain that had just gone through. It would be gone within the hour.
I spent Mon. night in a historical lodge. It was a dump but what the hell. I was a mile from the entrance to heaven during high season, it was reasonably priced, and I had no reservation. There were 3 places to eat within walking distance. One didn't serve alcohol, but he would have his permit in 3 weeks. Hmmmmm...NO. The 2nd was a mexican place, I could go for a margarita..... no bartender --- only beer and wine..... ok, beer would be fine. There were only 2 servers and the place was packed. I left after 10 mins. Not that I mind waiting, it's just that these guys were def. overwhelmed. The 3rd place was a sushi/steak place..... The hostess was up front right away..... we only have 1 server and can't take any more people. I appreciated that. Back I go to my room and my handy dandy, way cool polar bear cooler, where I have a leftover steak medallion wrapped with bacon, salad with chipotle dressing and 7% beer from a Moab brewery. Life is indeed very good.
I had a restless night. I really wanted to do a "strenuous" hike to "Angel's Landing" in the morning. But before I went to bed, I had decided I couldn't do it..... both my back and my leg/ankle had been bothering me. I woke up this morning, laid in bed, the answer came. Painkillers! I always carry both prescription painkillers and a full course of antibiotics whenever I travel. I could do the hike!! I knew my broken leg was fully healed, it wasn't a matter of doing damage, it was just pain. I knew my back was fine, just pain. Did all my back stretches, packed my day pack with ice water, sunblock, hat, pen/paper, good buffalo jerky, granola, and painkillers. Loaded up stormy, checked out and off to the visitor center to catch the shuttle. Zion does a great job of managing crowds. the displays outside make it easy to plan your day. The shuttle keeps a lot of traffic off the roads and is the only way to get to some trail heads.
I was on the shuttle, they have an audio that they play. Info. about where to get the shuttle, etc. Also, some informative info. about the park itself. A Paiute man starts speaking. Talking about the historical imp. of this area to his people. How every plant, rock, tree, lizard, has a purpose. I started tearing up, just listening and looking out the window of a shuttle bus. Total AWE.
Met lots of people on the trail. The camaraderie of a challenge. Met a family from York, PA. They had 2 young sons, Parker 7, and Carson 4. Parker was way ahead on the trail. Carson was starting to drag. I stopped to give a little encouragement. Told him a story about Jay and Tommy when they were little. Admired his really cool shoes, was sure he could do this with those shoes. He agreed. His father gave me a smile. OMG, I have become THAT old lady. I love how many families I am seeing - both with young children and with teenagers. There are also tons of young 20+ year olds. Lots of families from Japan, France and Belgium, as well.
The first 2 miles was fine, good path, even though I was climbing, I didn't have to go up steps --- that is what kills my back. The switchbacks were masterfully done, in my humble opinion. Then the last half mile......... a narrow path on straight up and down rock, with huge drop offs on both sides. Thank God, and the National Park system for the chains. I used them to pull myself up and keep myself balanced. Could not have done it without them. Nor could most of the people before and after me on this day. Everyone was helping everyone. Humanity at it's best. The half mile up and back is a one way path, yet it is two way. As an observer, it was wonderful to watch as we all got it. We needed to group up and wait. Allow the group on the other side to have a turn to cross, then the other side had to group, so we could pass. It really was magnificent. Only saw one asshole the entire time. Luckily, he was on his way down..... so his negative energy went flying by.
Stopped to take in the views, eat, drink, catch my breath many times up the trail. One family that I was constantly passing was a large group. Two brothers and their wives and kids. One mother, in particular was hysterical. She was a tad overweight, but she was damn determined. She had 2 sons and a daughter. At one point, she was resting in a place that blocked everyone behind her just slightly, we could still get around. Her youngest son, was above, calling out, " Mom, come on, you've got to get out of the way" . She called back, "I can rest here as long as I need too". As I went by, I said loudly enough so that he could hear --- " Absolutely, You can!"
As I said, I passed that family a lot. It was a beautiful sight to watch the kids, the older 2 got it, the youngest son was still like, come on mom. But all 3 of those kids, waited for their mother to get to each point, with her husband, their father behind her.
When I got to the top, "Angel's Landing" --- I felt like I was on top of the world, even though I have been at higher elevations. Can't explain it. I DID IT! No painkillers yet.
On the way down, I passed the mother just reaching the top. I asked if I could share something with her. Of course. I told her that one of my favorite memories is of going across the sawtooth from Mt Evans to Mt Beirstadt with one son in front of me and one son behind me, making sure I was ok. Offering a hand if I needed it. One of my sons died 2 years ago, I just wanted you to know how special what you just did is. She smiled, nodded, and whispered thank you. I cried as I started my descent.
Going down was harder than going up. I took my time. My back was fine, but my ankle was starting to swell. I could feel it but it wasn't painful. I think because I was just so proud of myself. The Park Service recommends you allow 4 hrs for this roundtrip hike of 5.4 miles. I took 4 hrs. 20 mins.
I had made a reservation at Coral Sand Dunes State Park for tonight. I needed internet to catch up on this blog, I needed Ice for my leg, I needed to not set up a tent, I needed AC. I am at a Best Western in Kanab, Utah with all of my needs met. I called Coral Sands, and asked if they would give my site away to the next person that pulled in. I never did need nor take painkillers, unless a couple of beers count.