Quote of the day from Josh: "I think I want my next adventure to be a little more effortless."
This morning was cool and beautiful as we rolled out of camp just before the sun came over the mountains. George left first and Josh, Seth, and I were a few minutes behind him. We had a quick and easy climb to the edge of a canyon and then we had our most epic descent to date...a steep and curvy road that switchbacked right down the side of the canyon. It was amazing to see the rocky valley open up in front of our eyes as we flew down the road! We coasted to the Escalante River, our lowest point for the day, and then started up.
I realize now that I had no clue what it meant to climb a mountain on a bicycle until I rode through Utah. The climb was painfully steep, 14% grades in some sections, and it took us probably 3 hours to ride 10 miles. We met up with George at the Hog's Back, a ridgeline that dropped steeply on both sides down into the canyon. It was beautiful but I was tired and I needed calories. Boulder wasn't far so we pushed on and arrived into town at 11:30. The restaurant didn't open until noon, so George ordered a breakfast burrito from the cafe next door, and Josh, Seth, and I decided to wait. George left town just as the three of us were ordering.
We devoured our burgers and sandwiches and mutually decided it would be a good idea to digest a bit before starting the next section of the climb. Sometimes towns are hard to leave :)
Two hours later, at the hottest point during the day, we finally pulled out of town for 14 more miles of climbing 3000 feet. It was miserable and I was exhausted, but thankfully we had some cloud cover that kept the heat slightly at bay. Josh went ahead of Seth and me as he is a much stronger climber. This second section wasn't nearly as steep as the first, but it still took us 3.5 hours to climb. It was amazing to see the alpine forests at the top, and look down to see the rocky canyon from where we had ridden!
A local at the restaurant had told us about a spring at the top of the mountain and Seth and I stopped on our way past. We guzzled the ice cold water (I'm usually very paranoid about treating my water so I hope we don't get sick!) and continued down. George and Josh had left a rock cairn at the entrance to a campground a few miles from the summit so we would know they had stopped. We pulled in right around 6 and are camped next to a stream. Seth and I had teriyaki noodles (my favorite trail dinner) with chicken for dinner and he is already sleeping as I type this...we are both exhausted!
We did 48 miles today and will hopefully have an easy day tomorrow...the next 64 miles are mostly downhill!