Texas Hill Country
October 12, 2020
Elevation: 7,039 ft.
Distance: 83.1 mi.
Odometer: 2,422.0 mi.
Packed up and headed out of the park, hitting one last short trail on the way. I was still sort of debating skipping it until the last minute, when I reminded myself of Palo Duro Canyon. If 41 miles was worth it then, 5 miles is worth it now. And it was. The park was awfully quiet at 7:00 AM on a Monday. I felt like I had the whole place to myself, like it was my secret.
Despite losing 1,000 feet in net elevation, I was still pooped by the time I got out of the park. Just outside the park is Moab, my kind of outdoors-oriented town, and perhaps the biggest town I'll see until Albuquerque. I knew I'd need to check on a few things like maps and lodging arrangements soon, so I stopped in the library to use the internet. There, I learned the ugly truth: from Moab to Monticello was one long hill with an elevation gain of over 3,000 feet.
Hiking a trail and spending an hour at the library had me leaving Moab at about 11:00 AM with 55 miles and 3,000 feet of climbing ahead of me, and a lot of it would have to be done during the hottest part of the day. I gained a lot of elevation quickly, only for a couple of descents to wipe half of it out and make me do it all over again. There wasn't so much as a gas station between Moab and Monticello, and therefore, no shade at either of the rest stops I took. For the first time in a while, heat was a major factor. And since this was Utah, there was construction on the road at one point. At least I had a light tailwind most of the way, and no headwind at any point.
Arrived in Monticello to the tune of more construction. Tried the church floor approach again. I thought maybe in a small town after 4:00 PM no one would be at a church. Found a church with a radio station in the same building and figured someone would be there. Here more than any other place I remember, when I asked about staying the night, the response was almost like it was a silly question, of course I could stay there! Shower, roll-out bed, leftover food from potluck dinner. A curious look in the freezer and I found a box of Fat Boys, a particularly good ice cream sandwich that's apparently only found in Utah. Glad I had one before I left the state. Thanks again to Hannah, Rhett, and everyone else whose names I can't remember at the First Baptist Church in Monticello, UT.
from Pedal for Potatoes