On my way out of Flagstaff, I was joined by another rider named Joe, rocking a gravel bike clearly loaded for touring. He wasn't on tour yet, but was training for the Great Divide, to start about a week later.
Joe took me on a route I hadn't planned, more closely hugging Humphrey's Peak. Much better than the route I'd had planned, which involved more pavement. And a good riding companion is always welcome. Over an hour flew by before we parted ways.
From there, it was a long trek north across a mostly flat plain, crisscrossed with a veritable spiderweb of unmarked dirt roads leading to nowhere. Twice, I missed a turn and had to backtrack.
After several hours, I found myself at the Grand Canyon, via some unknown back entrance. Someday, I'd like to hike all the way down. No chance to do so this time. A few overlooks would have to do.
The only way around the Grand Canyon was through Navajo Nation, which is larger than several states. Camping in Navajo Nation isn't allowed. I'd have to either go off-route to Tuba City and get a hotel or I'd have to make it through in a single day.
Single day it is. The area is mostly flat, and I was aided by a tailwind for the majority of the day. The most notable feature of the area is the plethora of roadside stands selling Navajo jewelry. Half of them were abandoned. All of them had a flag or sign that said "OPEN".
Eventually, the road crossed the Colorado River on Navajo Bridge, marking the end of Navajo Nation. It wasn't late yet, but I'd be able to camp again. I filled up on water, cranked out another half-hour, then went down a side road to set up the tent. The forecast called for a cool night without too much wind. For the first time, I left the rainfly off my mostly-mesh tent.
from Wild West