Day 62 – Escalante to Panguitch UT

I was excited this morning looking forward to the day’s ride to Panguitch. That’s probably not something you hear from a lot of people – “I’m going to Panguitch! Wohoo!” but I have my reasons. First, I’ve been to Panguitch before, twice actually. And I knew that the ride through Bryce would be gorgeous. Also I travelled though here maybe 10 or 12 years ago for work and detoured here to go fishing. There’s few things that endure a location to me more than a good fishing experience, and I remember having a great time here. Megan and Jonah know that’s code for I caught (and released) a lot of fish.

I was up early and on the road by 7:00. Not exactly dawn but early enough to catch the sun rising over the mountains. Early enough too to see the morning critters, of which there were many, mainly rabbits. I passed a huge field of scrub brush – exactly the kind of cover they like – and saw 28 rabbits in a matter of 20 minutes or so. For awhile I was seeing 4 or 5 at a time as they snuck out of the cover to feast on the grass growing by the highway. Not a coincidence I suppose that I saw one fox too. I didn’t get close enough to see if he had bunny breath.

Catching the morning sun
Can’t believe I didn’t notice those odd clouds when I took this
This low swampy area had a bunch of little piles of sticks. I didn’t investigate but wth? Beavers? Seems too dry for them here but there a cattails too which take a lot of water. Hmmm.

As I was riding out of Escalante, the morning breeze was in my face a little and my spokes started to sing. I’ve noticed that if I’m going a little fast, or there’s a bit of breeze, the spokes vibrate and make a continuous note – kind of a hummmmmmm that’s maybe about a middle “C”. It usually means that I’m moving along pretty well and I’ve developed an almost Pavlovian joyful response to it.

You might think that by this point in the trip I would surely be sick of riding a bike but I’m not at all. I’m reminded of some of the early descriptions of riding a bike from the late 1800s where people often compared it to flying. With the breeze in your hair, simply experiencing the simple joy of turning back and forth over a smooth road is really like nothing else.

I’m so accustomed to my bike now I feel as comfortable on it as I do walking across the room. Without looking I can put my hand on the water bottle exactly as though it were a part of my body. And having been with the same 4 bags of stuff, I know exactly what is with me and which bag it’s in. Except the stuff that’s lost of course and I know where some of that stuff is too. If anybody is going over. Lizard Head pass anytime soon, can you pick up my GoPro charging cord? You’d think that the awareness of stuff would help me not to lose things but no. I am a total airhead when it comes to leaving stuff behind. Recent casualties include my belt (didn’t really need anyway), some clippy thing on my front pannier that came off on route (substituted gorilla tape), and broken reading glasses (medical tape repair – looks as bad as it sounds).

Corral near the first of two passes I went over today. Neither was too taxing – good prep for a big one tomorrow.
Someone dropped a 5 gallon bucket of nuts. The bunnies had taken up residence in the bucket.
Outside of Tropic Utah
Tropic. I was so hungry I had a yogurt, a chocolate milk, a Clif bar, a banana and a cup of coffee. Sounds like a weird combo maybe but it’s kind of what my body was asking for and it caused no complaints.

Have I mentioned yet how much I love Kind bars? Kind, you’re welcome to sponsor me on my next adventure. They are delicious, low glycemic index, satisfying and you can now get them in convenience stores across America (even in Kansas!). I’m hooked.

Nearing Bryce Canyon there was a small burn area – prior forest fire. Many of the trees survived but these new shoots were also coming up through the ashes.
OK Allison, what are these beauties?
In Bryce Canyon Nat’l Park, the burn area nearing the 2nd pass today.
Past Bryce Junction, these horses were chewing this outbuilding to pieces. Lynda, what’s up with that? Doesn’t seem good for them.
Genuine old wagon. Of course they had a manure spreader too but I’ll spare you.
Progress?

I saw three cyclists today but none were touring. The last touring cyclist I saw was between Dolores and Rico, almost 400 miles ago. It’s a shame because this route has been fantastic – beautiful, no trouble with cars and lots of easy access to great camping. I did meet a bikepacker (for those not familiar; it’s like touring on a bike but backcountry on trails and fireroads). He waved me down and we had a nice chat about where we’ve ridden.

Paul and Jenny. Paul’s an avid bikepacker and a really nice guy. They’re from Vegas.
Trailside wildflowers
Descending Red Canyon between Bryce Junction and Panguitch. It has a bike trail separate from the road for over 10 miles that is spectacular.
I got a little choked up seeing Smokey. “Only you can prevent forest fires. No really, I’ve been defunded.” He was obviously suprised by my gesture.
Nearing the bottom of Red Canyon.
Ahhh Panguitch. I think I just like saying Panguitch. It means “big fish” in Paiute.

Panguitch also has a great little campground run by a couple of West Texan transplants. They’re super friendly and the camp has a clubhouse, showers, awesome wifi – everyone I need. A couple of geology grad students have been here over 5 weeks working on Masters thesis research – a nice bunch. But dining choices will be limited tonight. Most restaurants here are close on the Sabbath.

12 thoughts on “Day 62 – Escalante to Panguitch UT”

  1. Blue flowers look like flax (I’ve been eyeing them in some gardens in the neighbourhood and happen to have some seed pods which are in my purse waiting to be planted). My guess for the flowers in the burn area is some variety of paintbrush, also known as prairie fire as they are early plants to grow in burn and disturbed areas. Will send you a link to a children’s book I remember reading to the girls called “The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush.” Great to see the separated bike trail and Smokey too. So great to hear you’re finding so much joy cycling and taking it all in (including the variations in manure spreaders).

    1. Thanks for all the help with plant identification, Allison! I’ll check out the book.

  2. We miss Smokey. How much did he cost vs. the toll of forest fires? Perhaps he’s using contraception from Planned Bearenthood since his cubs wouldn’t have any support. At least he’s indigenous to North America so he can’t be deported.

    1. Yup, I miss Smokey too. Apparently the Forest Service isn’t aggressively removing him though.

  3. Love that divided path down to Red Canyon – so awesome! Chelsea ran part of it when we were there for spring break. The other side of that path goes into Bryce NP.

    1. Yeah only part of the path was on my map but looks like they extended it. I’ll share the GoPro later – don’t have the bandwidth or time for the upload now. Glad that Chelsea got to enjoy it.

  4. Hey Jim:

    I’m really enjoying my vicarious trip with you across America, through time, and into my mind. Who hasn’t had daydreams about biking across the country? And now you’re showing why it is so appealing. Not to mention introducing me to all those little curious campgrounds, porches, truck stops, creeks, small towns and ’60’s gas guzzlers that you’ve visited. So thanks! I catch up with you every few days to read the latest.

    Dakers

    1. Thanks, Dakers. Glad that you’re enjoying it! Sounds like there may be a trip in your future 🙂

    1. Yes I feel pretty spoiled. Sadly I say goodbye to Utah in two days. I fear that Nevada won’t be as pretty but who knows. I’ll be traveling what I’m told is the “loneliest road in the world.”

  5. My part of the world is unusually overrun with bunny rabbits too! I’ve seen more this year than in my previous 15 years in Tucson. No foxes here though, but we saw several in Monte Rio!

    1. Interesting that our neighborhoods are now overrun with bunnies and turkeys, things Americans used to eat 🙂

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