So we handed our bikes up to Les to be loaded in the trailer right away this morning. I drove Bruce's Explorer, and Lori from MD was my passenger--she asked me to shuttle her up to the lunch stop. Dianne drove Casey's van (the same van in which I almost met my death a couple of days ago...). Our plan was to help out on the climb and then hike to Calf Creek Falls and swim after lunch.
We started out on the route watching out for people in trouble on the long climb, but everyone seemed fine. When we got to the first rest stop we waited a while to make sure everyone had what they needed. Vance and Janet came in right after the leaders--she got a little extra help from him on the climbs. (yes, that is a tube from a bike tire).
We pulled in at a few scenic overlooks, where the views were spectacular.
We stopped just after the summit to help set up a rest stop. While the elevation gain was 2700 feet to this point, the cyclists had actually climbed over 7000 vertical feet! Bruce was the first rider in, followed quickly by Robert, Anna and Dan. Here they are below: Robert, Dan, Anna and Bruce.
It was a nice downhill run to the lunch stop at the Anasazi Indian Museum State Park. They are excavating ancient ruins there, and we walked through the restored areas behind the museum.
There were dramatic descents after lunch, including the ride along Hogs Back Ridge, a narrow road with steep dropoffs on both sides. It was awesome just driving it--we stopped at the pullouts to look at the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument, and to take photos of the riders. Below is Bruce coming in fast, and then Robert and Lori (whose mother told her not to ride her bike on Hogs Back Ridge)!
Dianne and I wore our hiking clothes in anticipation of the hike this afternoon.
But when we got to the turnoff for Calf Creek Falls, a National Park Ranger stopped us. He had a group of cyclists corralled on his personal spot of pavement. He asked us if we were with them, and I said yes. I guess that was a mistake! He told us (in a 15 minute lecture) that it was against the law for us to hike to Calf Creek Falls because Les did not get the proper permits. And now that we KNEW it was against the law we would be in violation of federal statute blah blah blah.... I pointed out to him that I was in a car, not on a bicycle but that was not good enough (since I'd already admitted being with them). He turned us all away, telling us that they had been expecting us, and that we were VICTIMS of Les's flaunting of the law. He added that they were passing the word on to Bryce Canyon and Zion! We are plenty worried about that, since we have an off-day in Bryce Canyon. Dianne has a golden-ager pass to get into all National Parks. If we have to we will enter separately and not admit to being part of the tour...
There were steep descents on the rest of the ride, interspersed with more climbs (1400 vertical feet total after lunch). The sign above was just the beginning--after the 4 miles there was another sign for 14% descent!
We arrived at Escalante around 2 PM. I did not even ride my bike today, but had had breathing issues at high altitude, so was glad to be done for the day. The campers were about a mile away at Petrified Forest State Park. Les gave us a ride to the park, and then I went for a hike to see petrified wood.