Day 59 – Hanksville to Torrey UT

I think the big ride yesterday kind of took it out of me because I felt like I’ve been in slow motion most of the day. I’ve learned to listen to my body so I just took it kind of slow today and took in the sights. Consequently I feel like I have little to share today so I’ll mostly just show you what I saw.

Today was a short ride to Capitol Reef National Park but even getting there took awhile due to road construction stops. I got to chat with Fred, a highway worker who was an interesting guy – self described “mountain man” who’s hobby is “black powder” backcountry camping where you don’t use anything that didn’t exist in 1840 (or was it 1880?). Anyway, wool blankets, canvas tents, and muzzle loaders. Another little hobby niche in the world I never knew existed.

Leaving Hanksville with strains of “Don’t go back to Hanksville” running through my head.
Heck of a Father’s Day card.
I suppose there’s some mortar in there but it’s almost dry stack. Detail of an old building on the route. It’s guarded by chain link which made the picture of the building itself too ugly to show.
I’m getting spoiled on buttes and pinnacles. Near Hanksville is a lower layer of rock and it’s all whites and blacks. Further up it’s all red sandstone and basalt.
These surprised me in an otherwise dry area.
Approaching Capital Reef. I’m following the Fremont River which is what makes this area habitable. I’ve seen pictures where it runs clear but now it’s half dirt.
A one-room house built by Elijah Cutler Behunin for his wife and 13 children. Presumably some slept on the porch. They were an early Mormon settler family of this area but had to move on because the river flooded and took their crops. The settlement further upriver is still there.
I had a long chat with the mom and dad of this family from Belgium. They have an uncle who tours “on a bike just like that one.” They were taking pictures of me so I asked if I could have one of them at which point they made all the kids pile out of the car amid much eye rolling from the teenagers (I’m trusting eye rolling from teenagers is multi-lingual). I didn’t notice at the time but I wonder if they always dress to match like this.

Capitol Reef is one of those places in the West where American tourists make up 20% of the visitors – tops. You hear Mandarin, German, a lot of French and miscellaneous other languages. After awhile you look up when you hear American English. Europeans seem particularly taken with the desert landscape which makes sense – there is nothing like the American West in Europe and maybe we take that for granted a bit.

Hiking up the “Grand Wash” trail in Capitol Reef.

The name of this place never made any sense to me but I saw it explained today. Apparently the rock formations here are all part of a big uplift of tectonic plates causing a massive barrier, which has been deemed a “reef.” One of the famous foundations looks like the Capitol Dome – thus Capitol Reef.

Further up and under the Grand Wash
The Fremont as it flows through the Park.
Imagine my surprise to come across these Orchards. Still in production, they’ve grown apples and peaches here since the late 1800s. (Poor old Elijah’s floated down river in a flood in 1906).
I’m guessing its these orchards that have given this settlement its name – Fuita. I took this picture through a fence that kept me out of those peaches. They looked amazing.
The one-room schoolhouse in Fruita built in 1896 and operated up through 1941. Our friend Elijah donated the land.
If this blog ever becomes a book, it will be called “Decorative Manure Spreaders in America.”
Rusty plows and gathering storms. The rain never came but those clouds are my friends and kept temps very reasonable.
Chimney Rock on the way out of Capitol Reef, headed west for Torrey.
This feature is called “twin rocks” which really lacks creativity. May I suggest “Los Huevos”?

The ride was short enough today that I pulled into Torrey by 4:00 or so. Harry runs Sand Creek RV park where I’ve got a little cabin for $35 – no frills, no AC but not pitching a tent tonight will allow me to get out early tomorrow. I’m curious to see this countryside in the early morning light so I’m thinking of another pre-dawn launch for tomorrow. I have a big pass to get over tomorrow – about 9500′ and I’m at 6500 now – so I want a fresh start in the morning for that. That should get me into Escalante tomorrow evening, then Panguitch, and Cedar City after that. Then Nevada – eek. There may be 4:00AM rides in my future yet.

Torrey is an interesting spot – I’ll have to get some photos this evening (after the current monsoon abates). It has its own water supply from the mountains so its a green oasis in this otherwise dusty dry land. You pull into town under cottonwoods and there are open irrigation ditches running a couple of feet deep literally down Main Street.

5 thoughts on “Day 59 – Hanksville to Torrey UT”

  1. Hi Jim. At first glance, I saw ‘black POWER’ back country camping’. I like the fantasy it has started in my mind. Was the reef underwater when the tectonic plates moved to make their current formation?


    1. I don’t think so although the rock is sandstone that was a seabed at one time. The way I saw it described was that it was a Reef simply because it currently is a barrier to roads, travel, animal migration etc.

      I like the black power camping too. Huey Newton style camping.

  2. Beautiful!

    Tell us more about the stormwater or water drainage on Main St in Torrey,.. really. New ‘green’ infrastructure such as “bio-swales” are kind of like more advanced ditches with more design features to promote water infiltration, etc.

    1. This didn’t look new at all, I’ll shoot you a pic but I’m pretty sure it’s old fashioned irrigation ditch.

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