Day 39: July 11: Bryce to Escalante

I was looking forward to riding after having not been for several days. Because Gretchen had the car, today was my first "sagged" ride: I was able to leave most of my gear and trailer in the car, so I could ride on a much lighter bike. I didn't know what kind of road I'd encounter (asking car drivers for this information has proven to be useless), so I was glad that my first day back riding after four days would be a light one.

Because of the rain we'd been having, I packed my full rain suit (which is Gore-Tex, and quite warm), as well as a lighter water-resistant windbreaker and a set of dry clothes. I regretted not being able to hike around Bryce Canyon, but because of the somewhat tighter schedule of Gretchen's vacation, we decided to postpone the hiking until somewhere else, perhaps in Grand Staircase.

Today's route was about 5 miles up out of Bryce Canyon, then northeast on Utah 12 for about 47 miles to Escalante Petrified Forest State Park just before Escalante. Leaving Bryce, I had about 20 miles of mostly downhill riding. I saw many of the hoodoos and other red sandstone formations that I'd seen at Bryce from the other direction as I rode, with white and red sandstone cliffs and mesas ahead of me. Route 12 goes through a couple of quiet ranching villages, where I saw and smelled large bales of hay, some alfalfa (I think), and cattle. The scenery here (as well as the downhill ride) made for a great ride. The overcast skies kept the temperature down to maybe 75 or 80 degrees, as well as supplying some cooling light showers.

As I rode, I was watching the rain clouds ahead. I couldn't tell whether I'd be riding into heavy rains, but the distant thunder and lightning made me glad that I'd bothered to pack my rain suit. A couple of times I thought I'd round the next corner and hit a downpour