Sep 29

Tusayan to Gray Mountain

by in GABA

Day 1: 72.9 miles; 3,800’ elevation gain

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We started riding at 6:30 a.m. It was frosty cold out. We, rather stupidly, decided to leave our long-fingered gloves and long pants in the bags that morning. Fortunately, it was mostly uphill for the first 6 miles so we warmed up before the day did. We again stopped at every overlook we could pedal to, this time traveling east along the rim. The morning light cast a completely different face on the canyon. Sunlight and shadow mixed to create striped patterns in the panorama.

At about 15 miles we ran into road construction. The road became hard-packed dirt for almost 3 miles. It was rough riding, but the asphalt sure felt fine after we were done. Met Ted and Sandy, tandemers from St. Louis, at the first rest area. They’d done many cross-state trips, so we swapped stories for a while. Then we took off again.

Our final stop at the Grand Canyon was at Desert Watchtower, another Colter construction. It’s 70 feet tall, but looks miniscule as it stands on an outcropping over the edge of the big hole. Saw a Navajo woman weaving a two-sided rug there. It was pretty interesting, especially since Spencer’s Mom & Dad do this style of weaving.

Then we sailed downhill (48 mph) toward the Little Colorado Canyon. Our chain was skipping gears, so we had the mechanics at the rest area fix it up. They were wonderfully helpful and were able to solve the problem without having to resort to buying new stuff. Those GABA volunteers were all fabulous.

We had to travel the last 8 miles of the day to Gray Mountain pushing against a STIFF breeze. We were suffering from too much heat, too much wind, and too much altitude. When we finally arrived at the Anasazi Inn, we were beat. That was to become the repeated them of the week. (I almost typed “weak”!)

A good meal led us to bed. We’d gotten hotel rooms every night so we wouldn’t have the extra trouble of setting up and taking down tents daily. It was the best decision we made and we reveled in it every afternoon!

Colorado River; click to enlargeColorado River; click to enlarge

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