I have probably had the most impressive sight of the trip today : seeing firsthand the grand staircase, as if from a plane. This is a view where you realize indeed why it is named so.
After looking at weather reports yesterday, I went with long sleeves again, for the first time in weeks (since I left the pacific coast I think). And boy was I right ! It was cold up there ! It’s cold up there everyday, what is this, Miami beach ? No sir, at 9600 feet / 3000 meters, in the forest with a cloudy day, it was chilly. But I reached the top in 2,5 hours, second highest in Utah, and last big climb before Colorado. Lots of walking again, but it was ok. Utah is really teaching me patience, and that, as long as you keep going, whatever the speed, you always reach your target.
And there, the view ! You can see south to the Navajo mountain, more than 60mi/100kms away. I saw this mountain towering in the east when I was arriving in Page. South east, you see beyond Escalante where I was yesterday. I could retrace the path through the maze. But mostly, this is where you actually see the steps going up one by one from south west to north east. I counted at least seven, some well defined, some broken. This was definitely a great sight, and a simple photo doesn’t retrace the whole feeling.
This is also where I was first approached by French people ! I had encountered a lot, especially in Utah, but they never asked anything, contrary to absolutely all other people, American or any other. I was really starting to think it was yet another national trait. It was a group of about 20 retirees, spending a month long touring the parks in the west.
Going through the forest above Boulder, I got to see a lot of wildlife up close, a large part of them not flattened on the road : a deer, a rabbit crossing in front of me, a squirrel doing the same less than a foot before my wheel, and what seemed to be a family of groundhogs (or maybe very fat squirrels ?). As long as they’re all herbivores it’s all ok.
Right after the summit is another great view, on Capitol Reef, the park I’ll cross tomorrow. The clouds were still a bit in the way though.
Going down from the summit is always easier of course, except that, as usual, a full headwind started to blow and I had to be cautious. I don’t really know if a cyclist can be toppled over by a sudden gust of wind, but I don’t want to try.
Approaching Torrey, I encountered another guy crossing the US with his son. They started at exactly the same date, from Florida ! So they did around 600mi/1000kms more in the same timeframe. They were going quite fast. They’ll certainly reach San Francisco within a couple of weeks. It’s great to see cyclists again on the road.
In Torrey I’m staying at another Warm Showers host, Lyman, who has another unbelievable view from his porch !
Note to myself : lamb burger, goat cheese (from the Burr trail grill in Boulder)