Hite recreation area is the only place boasting a store between Hanksville and Blanding – 125mi/200kms apart. So I was very anxious to reach this place, although I wasn’t sure of business hours. What I was sure of, is that it was going to be a windy day.
I talk about wind a lot, and it certainly is the bane of cyclists. The weather report for this Monday was even more dramatic : weather alert on high winds, up to 30-40mi/50-65kms/h, coming from the south – exactly my direction. I thought about staying in Hanksville overnight, but not for long : I wanted to keep going. So I started the road towards Lake Powell, Hite being on the northern part of it (Page being at the south). It was meant to be going up for about 20mi/32kms, then mostly down.
Leaving Hanksville going south, I was now east of the Henry moutains, the “little Rockies”. I first saw them after Boulder. I’ve been going all around them, which is a special feeling of course. Here I could see the land moving under my wheels. I tried to go as fast up the first part as I could, but the wind was already there. It was meant to grow stronger after noon. Plus, the store hours was either up to 5pm, or only 2pm ! Depending on the source… The national park service website is often lacking the basic info. I called for details and they told me 5pm. Still, I wanted to secure an arrival before 2pm.
I was not going fast, and the wind was already tiring me. I came to understand why it is so : depending on your speed, you feel more or less air on yourself, when there’s no headwind. But when there is headwind, this feeling is biased : you feel like you are going faster, but you’re not, and that’s the depressing part.
Anyway, I finally reached the ridge when uphill turned into downhill. It launched me into another fantastic sandstone canyon, with all the possible red colors around me. The canyon was going deeper and deeper until Lake Powell. The wind was also growing stronger, not to the point predicted, still, going downhill remained a challenge.
I started seeing Lake Powell, and, on the other side, a few buildings that looked like my destination. I still had more than 7mi/10kms to go, in a long semi-circle around the rivers joining the lake. I was very tired at this point, and the minutes leading to 2pm were dropping by very fast. I was feeling I wouldn’t make it. Plus the temperature was rising fast.
I crossed the two bridges over the Dirty Devil and Colorado river. There was still about a mile to go to the road leading to Hite, on a steep road. At this point I did what I had dreaded for long : I stopped and sit on the road. I’d been going for more than 5 hours and couldn’t continue. I rested for some time, 2pm had come and gone, then I resumed going up, found the side road and reached Hite. The landscape around the lake was once again incredible, but I didn’t think about that too much.
I went down to the visitor center, and… it was closed. No timetable, an emergency number, but that wasn’t really an emergency. Water ! Even toilets ! I would survive. Then I turned left and saw the store itself, open till 5pm 🙂 I was saved. I entered, felt the AC, and ran for fresh drinks. After some time I got up again and bought something to eat, trying to take tomorrow into account as well. The store was managed by Melissa, who hops from place to place to see the country. A nice job if you don’t mind living in desolate areas !
Next was the campground, all the way down, with no shade and no water source. As the visitor center was closed, and for a long time according to Melissa (budget cuts), I prepared to pitch right next to it, protected from the wind and the sun.