Yaateeh. That is Navaho for “Hello”. At least that is what the guy in the park told me while I was doing some maintenance on my bike. Maybe he is playing a joke on me and wanted to see if I would cuss out a Navaho.
I haven’t felt 100% since Dolores. I originally thought it was the junk food, but maybe it is something else. I am about to hit the longest stretch I have had so far with no services and didn’t want too get sick out in the middle of nowhere. It may just be nerves about this upcoming stretch. The place I stayed Sunday night was booked, so I got a motel room for Monday. The owners had painted some of the rooms, walls, ceilings, everything to look like some kind of scene. My room was a pioneer farm scene. It was really something else.
I passed a couple of Native American ruins today. Both were Anasazi ruins. The first was a small village of cliff dwellings. The second was brick ruins built on flat land. The Anasazi were around from about the time of Christ to about 1300 A.D. and moved from above ground to the cliffs.
The landscape in Utah, at least this part, is foreign, almost alien. If people ever terraform Mars, I think it will look a lot like Utah. Unlike the Rockies, the landscape in Utah looks like it is caused by erosion, both water and wind. The cliffs have a rounded look, much like stones in the bottom of a stream. It’s odd to see whole cliff sides smoothed like that.
In Colorado and again in Utah, it can be difficult to tell if I am going uphill or downhill. Visual cues can be deceiving sometimes. The only way to really tell is by how difficult or easy it is to pedal and what gear I am in. Today, I ended up climbing over 3400 feet altogether. It wasn’t all at once like some of the mountain passes, but it was almost as much climbing as I did the day I went over Lizard Head Pass. Some of it was pretty steep. There was a section of 9% grade that didn’t feel so bad. There was also a section at 8% that felt much worse than it should have. Overall, I felt pretty good after all the climbing. Maybe I am getting used to it.
I had planned to stay at a campground in the Natural Bridges National Monument. When I arrived, however, the campground was full. They didn’t have hiker biker sites. However, everything around the monument is owned by the Bureau of Land Management. Disbursed camping on BLM lands is permitted, with some exceptions. So I rode out of the monument land to a side road and found a clearing for the night. I was upset at first that they would turn away someone on a bicycle so far away from anything, but camping on BLM land turned out to be a good option.
I wanted to ride the loop around Natural Bridges, but since I had to backtrack about 3 miles and the nine mile loop was over twice as long as I expected, I’m not sure I will do it. Maybe in the morning