Leaving Moab on a sunny morning feels good.
Having our trusted two wheelers between our legs, with the extra weight of all our gear, feels stable. It was with no regret that we left the rented Ford Mustang behind. Being outdoor, feeling the wind, heat, rain (NOT) is more our thing. And this morning we already have had more people approaching us to find out what we were up to, than during the past few days hiking in Arches & Canyon Lands while driving around in the car. After a first stretch on HWY191 we are happy to take a detour over gravel roads, Blue Hill Road and Ruby Ranch Road. HWYs can have decent shoulders but we now have had stretches where there was no shoulder and especially large RVs don’t seem to know (or just don’t care) that they pass us very closely and create quite an airflow. On the gravel road we don’t see any traffic, only the company of wind. The only place to shelter during lunch for sun and wind was behind a huge water trough, without any water.
This landscape is empty, desolate, dry, wide.
No we are not staying in this van :).
After passing over Interstate 70 we can follow the old highway to Green River. A road where the asphalt is crumbling and changing into gravel. Nobody except 3 cross motorbikes passes us during the 30km stretch. My first punture after 5.100 km.
While Frank repairs, I arrange a motel as we will be arriving when it is dark. Amazing we have GSM reception! We find a spot at a very basic motel with a real American Truck Stop diner next door.
Riding to Goblin Park we are passed by Nanneke and Philippe. Nanneke is Dutch, gym teacher and 68. Philippe is French, was professional cyclist, now lifeguard; living in France and have been biking during the past 10 years very remote, light packed biking holidays. Last year Namibia. This year from Denver to LA. After chatting a bit they disappear behind the mountains.
As we try to not do only HWY’s we take a detour to Goblin Park, campground full but we find a great camp spot under the stars.
To close the loop through Goblin State Park we take a 4×4 dirt road and I believe it took us as long to cover these 10km as if we would have backtracked the 25km to the highway. Loose sand is slowing us down. But it was beautiful and no traffic!
We stop at Hanksville, even if it just passed noon, to plan and blog.
Good to take some time to see what we will be doing, seems there are not so many good gravel roads to follow in Utah and besides to trail tomorrow we will have to mainly follow some less used highways. In the evening it does cool down a lot, when we want to have a drink in the restaurant it seems that Utah has very strict rules: when it is a restaurant you have to order at least one dish when you want to drink something….at least we sit warm and dry. And we get an interesting story from the waitress when we compliment her on the facilities in such a small, non-tourist town.
Hanksville lays between quite a few parks but never boomed as a tourist town. Now 200 inhabitants but a new gold and uranium vein have been discovered and they are planning to expand the village to 5.000 people in the next 2-3 years. Her parents in law, who own the campground/restaurant, are also taking over other premises which are in trouble and revive them, like the Inn and the local supermarket. It is a good thing, not a lot of job opportunities now and not the same support structures as in the Netherlands. Example, the waitress that served us in the restaurant at noon is helping out in the supermarket in the morning, 74 year young, but bills need to be paid…
Today is the day we will take the Notom road to Boulder. First follow the scenic byway which follows the Freemond river, happy to finally enter Capital Reef Park and turn left for the Notom Road which is paved the first 13 miles, but turns into gravel to go over the pass. At 17.00, just before we want to look for a spot to pitch our tent, a 4×4 which passed us turns around to ask if we will be doing the Burr Trail. They inform Frank that it was very muddy and slippery even with their 4×4. We think that it will be OK as it has not been raining for some days.
But we have to adjust our judgement after it rains the whole night. We decide to bike back to the HWY and not risk having to push-up the bikes again over a very muddy, sticky trail. Settelers did not have the opportunity to choose and even had to build their own roads. We have the luxury to choose. This whole region has been developed by dedicated, passionated Mormons.
We have a short stop at Capital Reef but decide not to hike as Frank seems to have some problems with his shin and we want to reach Torrey before dark. As on the NPS homepage: “Capitol Reef has been a homeland to people for thousands of years. Archaic hunters and gatherers migrated through the canyons. Petroglyphs etched in rock walls and painted pictographs remain as sacred remnants of the ancient Indians’ saga. Explorers, Mormon pioneers and others arrived in the 1800s, settling in what is now the Fruita Rural Historic District. They planted and nurtured orchards of apples, pears, and peaches. An amazing ride with ever-changing landscape brings us to Torrey where we treat ourselves on a perfectly cooked steak at the Broken Spurr.
If you look at the Freemont river which was yesterday calm and clear and now fast and muddy, we are happy we decided to turn around and follow a paved road. Next day Franks leg is even worse and it looks like shin splint. We decide to stay one more night in Torrey but no camping. As there is no GSM reception you have to bike from one place to the other and we finally find a cabin at Sand Creek.
All Inns are full but here we have at least a bed and good facilities on a beautiful spot. Next day the leg is still not good so we decide to stay one more day but have to move to a trailer which has the same age as Frank. Lazy
It is a lazy Saturday as we cant do much. I visit the farmer market, chatting with the local ladies who sell what they have handmade, or harvest from their garden, seems that the cold weather of the last week already has caused quite some frost damage. Great vegetables!
Will it snow tonight or will we be able to leave on Sunday?