Trip days: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8-9 | 10-12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20
I got a move on at 10:00am this morning. I thought I was on the ball, but then I realized that my clock was still on Nevada time, an hour earlier. Whatever, no hurry right? I headed south out of Provo on I-15 and then cut east on highway 6. Finally, some twisty roads... eeeexxxcellent. I promptly got off of 6 and headed south on 89 down to Fairview. I was a little worried, because looking at the map of Utah I saw a lot of really high places (like over 7000 feet) and thought I might hit snow. It's good to be cautious, but I'm adventurous too so I headed east out of Fairview on highway 31 through the Manti-La Sal National Forest. I wasn't quite sure how high the road would take me, but it looked to be way up there. I climbed for a solid 30 minutes of fairly high speed twisties (fairly Mt. Baker like). Towards the end of the ascent snow began piling up to the edges of the road, and I hit a few snow patched areas on the road that I had to slither over. Emerging at the summit I came across a pack of snowmobilers that looked a little shocked seeing a motorcycle way up there in the patchy snow on the road. During my quick descent back to a normal Utah altitude, a mere 4800 feet, passed two seperate coal burning power plants, a few coal mines, and a lot of single wide trailers plopped randomly in the woods... oh yeah, and two white tailed deer.
Highway 31 T's at highway 10 in a pretty barren desolate sort of area in Utah, just patchy scrub brush and a lot of burnt looking dirt. I was planning to make it down to the Escalante Staircase this afternoon, and then to Bryce, so I headed south to meet up with highway 72, a secondary less travelled road, that would shoot me out onto highway 12 which is the one that goes through Escalante, by Bryce, past Kodachrome, and towards Zion.
Once on 72 I marvelled at how wonderful the road was, and nobody was on it! Great pavement surface, nice high speed sweepers, good visibility, and pleasant yet subdued scenery. A definite must ride for those aspiring motorcycle sport tourers out there. After a good bit of spirited riding I felt the need to kick back, relax, eat a Clif Bar and an apple, and maybe relieve myself on some shrub brush. I found a wonderful vista of the distant steps in central southern Utah and lolled about in the sun for a while.
Back on task, I realized that the whole time I'd been on 72 I'd been going up again... Seems to be a fairly common occurence around here. Before I knew it I was back in terrain with patchy snow on the sides of the road. Finally, the summit sign... and it read ?! 9400 feet! No wonder my bike was starting to feel a little bit weak. Down the southern half of 72, and I was onto highway 12 headed towards Escalante.
Amazing country, that's all I can sum it up as. Endless expanses of steps and plateaus, canyons of all shapes and sizes, rocks red, yellow, brown, and everything in between, and absolutely mind boggling combinations of all the above. To tell you the truth, it almost got lost on me as there was just so many things to see, one after the other.
The Escalante Staircase seemed to blossom out of nowhere. Going along twisting through typical looking Utah canyons, and then before you can tell it's happening, weird looking patchy white rock outcrops begin to appear which blooblowing m into the Escalante Staircase. An area of canyons, ridges, plateaus, all consisting of a striking looking whitish sort of rock. Midway in, the road pops up out of a canyon onto the very top of a ridge that twists left and right in a serpentine fashion. On both sides of the road are 1000 foot drops down to the canyon floor. Pretty exciting to say the least.
Out of Escalante and onward on highway 12 towards Bryce, the scenery resorts to what I've come to expect as the norm in southern Utah; Shrub brush, sage brush, and any other sort of brush, mixed with pine trees. I was a bit interested in seeing Bryce Canyon so I veered off of highway 12 down through Ruby's Inn. I first had doubts when I saw the "Road Work Possible 20 Minute Delay" sign. Luckily I slipped in at the back of the que and made it through with no wait. What the?!?! $20.00 to get into Bryce Canyon? No thanks, I'll enjoy myself elsewhere thank you.
Back on highway 12, I gunned it to highway 89 south to Kenab and then down into Arizona. I was planning to spend the night at Jackson Lake in the Kaibab Forest just north of the Grand Canyon northern entrance. Once well into the forest the "SR67 Grand Canyon Road Closed for Winter" sign got me a little worried. If the roads closed, the camp ground probably is too. Sure enough. It was getting pretty late in the day to formulate a plan B so I just blindly headed east on 89 alt towards Marble Canyon and Flagstaff. What a beautiful area it is between Kaibab Forest and Marble Canyon. Great south western colors, red rocks, green patches in the basin, blue sky, yellow shrubbery at the fringes, really relaxing. Right as the sun was going down I stumbled on a park called Lees Ferry. It's an awesome red rock canyon with these gigantic red boulders scattered around randomly. Some of the boulders are the size of your average full sized pickup truck and they are balancing on top of these weird rock columns that can't be more than a few feet thick. Really bizarre, very alien looking outcrops.
Tomorrow after checking out northern Arizona I'm going to be meeting up with a fellow BMW rider from Phoenix who I'll be staying with for a couple days, and who will be showing me around the best roads of central Arizona.
Total Mileage for Day: 491
©2003 John Meloy <firstname.lastname@example.org>