Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015

Monday, June 17, 2013

Cliff Dwellers Lodge, AZ to Jacob Lake, AZ June 14

Friday June 14----37 miles in 4:45. I started the day with trepidation, hoping that my recently cramped muscles would hold up on a day of climbing from desert heat, way up into the mountains of the North Rim. I got an early start, about 7:30, and it was already 80 degrees. The crazy winds of yesterday that covered the RV, Jeep, and my bike in a coat of red dust, had subsided to nearly nothing. ( thank God!) Pam took me back 3.5 miles to the exact location of my cramping, and I began the day with an uphill, at about 3900 ft. Things went very well, traffic was light, the wind was a non factor, and it didn't seem to be getting much hotter. I rode for 23 miles with the beautiful Vermillion Cliffs on my right, almost constantly accompanied by a variety of lizards skirting the edge of the road, ground squirrels with ratty little tails, and ravens flying overhead looking for the remains of squashed lizards and ground squirrels. To my left was a golden brown plateau, where if you looked really close, you could see the chasm of the upper Grand Canyon. I climbed 1600 ft in those 23 miles without any leg problems. That was nothing compared to the last 12 miles, however. The Vermillion Cliffs suddenly came to an end on my right, and I was faced with a huge mountain range that I could see since I started. The Vermillion Cliffs National Monument ended and the Kaibab National Forest began with a series of switchbacks like I have never seen. The road looked like a cooked, twisted, string of spaghetti going up the side of the mountain. I did not stop climbing a serious grade for 12 miles-- until I had reached over 7900 ft. I had climbed over 4000 ft for the day, 2500 ft in the last 12 miles. If your not sure what that means, I'll tell you. It was freakin steep. The road was narrow and twisty, with cliffs and guardrails instead of shoulders. The Friday afternoon tourist traffic was getting heavier, especially pickup trucks with trailers, fifth wheels, quad trailers, and pop ups. There were no real incidents, except for a couple of 18 wheelers that wouldn't downshift on the steep hills, so they passed me on a turn, with their back wheels coming a little closer to me than I would have liked. Overall, however, I was proud of my first 4000 ft ascent in my life, and thankful that my pedal crankers didn't blow up again.
We got a neat camp site in the forest near the road back to the North Rim, the temps are cool, down in the 50's tonight, Pam made hot dogs, and we built a fire in a fire ring, thinking that this may be the last fire we are allowed to build for a while, because of the drought conditions here. We spent a hour or so exploring some back forest roads in the Jeep, and checking out some local landmarks ( one of the National Forest Services oldest Ranger Stations that still exists). We met some nice neighbors from Utah, at the campground, and just hung out all evening, enjoying the smell of a campfire, and the cool mountain air.

Rolling down 89A!  Note the lack of shoulder!

Taking a break at a beautiful overlook.

Vermillion Cliffs in the background

Mike continued up the mountain while I stayed at the overlook shopping at  a Navajo jewelry stand.  If you look closely, you can see the motor home and the Jeep!  That's how high up Mike was!

Driving up to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  This is the remains of a forest fire in 2006.

The forest is slowly bouncing back.

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