Natural bridges

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Well today was a fail 😦 I hitchhiked half of the way to the Natural Bridges national monument. I simply couldn’t go on.

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I barely slept, perhaps one hour. I went down at sunset, but couldn’t get to sleep. Sleeping pills didn’t help, finally quieting the rope which was constantly hitting the mast because of the wind didn’t help, being very patient didn’t help. I was certainly afraid I wouldn’t make it today, and this fear of failure created the failure. There was probably also the creepy feeling that I was the only human being in 50mi/80kms around.

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I left at sunrise and made the first third, the most difficult one, 15mi/25kms, in a reasonable time, considering the strong uphills. But I knew that it was all uphill, albeit slow, to the end, and that it was another long ride of 50mi/80kms.

I had hoped the wind would be quieter in the morning, but it never stopped during the night or the day after. The only benefit is that you don’t get to feel the sun so much. But it was continuously slowing me down.

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After three hours I was closing on half way. But I was going slowly. When I’m bored, or anxious, or both, I do a lot of calculations : at this speed I could get there in 2 hours; in 4mi I’ll be at the next landmark, or I’ll be able to switch to the next panel; in one hour I’ll reach this place going downhill. But in this situation the final sum was not good : I would need at least 5 or 6 more hours to arrive. And I didn’t feel like I could make it.

I probably had enough water and food to continue, but I didn’t want to keep going on such a lonely road for so long. The views were still impressive, I had left the canyons of the Lake Powell, but I wasn’t seeing the end on the horizon. Plus, what I could hope for at the end of the day was another camping spot, no showers and no store. I’m clearly not the outdoorsy adventurous type. I was in the danger zone and not anymore the challenge zone.

The only option I had, beyond lying on the floor, was to hitch a ride. But I totaled about one car per hour in the area. I was feeling really bad at this stage and I started to freak out, which only intensified my will to leave this place and go back to civilization – which I clearly could not do. I knew beforehand that this part of the trip would be difficult, but I nearly snapped.

I finally had a small car with four ladies stop, they couldn’t pick me up but said they would send someone back for me. They gave me a bottle of cold water, which was empty two minutes later. After some time a pickup coming the other way turned around and agreed to push me to the junction with Natural Bridges. They had met the ladies on their way. The two guys, working at road maintenance, so did a detour to help me. I was really glad to have found a solution. I reached the campground before 11, and not mid-afternoon (presuming I would have kept going, which I doubt).

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After resting a bit at the visitor center, I managed to do the visit of the monument, mostly three natural bridges formed in the white canyon, that I was following since Lake Powell. Great views, stronger and stronger wind, and back to the campground. I don’t really know how to pitch a tent under such strong winds…

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Tomorrow should be much easier, shorter, and mostly I should be back in a town and bed !

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