Day 15 (54 miles) Cedar City to Hatch, Utah
Day 15 marked the beginning of the most promising parts of the ride for spectacular scenery. Immediately after leaving Cedar City, we climbed up through a mountain pass, where we witnessed our first picturesque red rock cliffs. Although it was an exhausting climb to nearly 10,000 ft, it was a beautiful ride that we will all remember.
After the hill, we began our descent to the valley below. On the downhill, we traveled through a beautiful meadow up on a plateau, and then entered into an area covered in an ancient lava flow. This lead us down to the valley floor, where we turned onto Hwy 89 and traveled to the small town of Hatch. And then, as the rest of the team checked into out hotel, I kept riding all the way to Bryce Canyon.
On Monday I have an appointment in St. George to meet with a hand orthopedic doctor. It is time to get my cast changed. That same day the team will ride on to Bryce. So as not to miss any of the miles, I had to continue riding on to Bryce (a day ahead of the rest of the team) so I could take the day off to see the doctor. My parents drove up on Friday, so my dad was able to ride with me during those extra miles.
Although it was a tough "double day" ride for me, after we had already climbed 5,000 feet that day, my dad and I cranked out the extra miles. Now I will be able to take the next day off, get my cast changed, and still have ridden every mile of our cross country trip.
We spent that night in the most peculiar accommodations yet, a Harley Davidson Themed motel. Everything in the room had to do with Harleys, and I mean EVERYTHING. Even the ceiling fan made noises like a motorcycle engine revving whenever you turned it on. But hey, a hotel beats sleeping on the ground any day, even if it is a little odd. The other funny thing was that the ceiling fans all had remote controls that would turn on and off the fans in the next door rooms. None of us could figure out why our fans were all going on and off at different times. If someone was hot next door, they would use their remote and it would turn on our fan and the motorcycle engine sound. It drove us all crazy and we didn't figure it out until the next morning.
That night we hopped on our bus and traveled into the town of Panguitch. After eating at a diner there, we walked into downtown to checked out Panguitch Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival. It was quite a sight, all up and down main street they had inflated giant hot air balloons. It was definitely a new experience for all of us.
The next morning marked the beginning of our second off day of the trip. After sleeping in and eating a huge breakfast at a local diner, we headed off to our days activities: exploring Zion National Park. I had been to Zion before, but I was still in awe of its breathtaking red cliffs. But there was one aspect of Zion that I had not experienced. The last time I had been there was in the winter. This time, in the summer, there were hordes upon hordes of tourists! We decided to hike up to the beginning of the famous Narrows Hike, and we were met by hundreds of others that had the same plan. I could go for a walk in a major city and see less people. Although it was crowded, the landscape was still breathtaking, and I can't wait to return to do the whole Narrows hike later in my life.
After Zion, I parted ways with the rest of ESCAA for a short time and headed to St. George where I will got my cast changed. Overall I have had an awesome first few days in Utah and I am excited to explore the state further.