Struggling through Utah

I left Colorado and entered eastern Utah last week. It was a tough beginning. I crossed the border in the afternoon and immediately entered a canyon. I was looking for a camping spot but there was nothing due to the steep canyon walls. Wherever there was a flat spot someone had built a house and had pastureland.

Then leaving the canyon I had to climb up a long steep hill. Hills at the end of the day are the worst. But I had no choice. I pushed my bike uphill about 400 feet. After a while, I was able to get off on a side road and camp in a horse pasture. A nice spot but strong winds had me a little worried. I was afraid a tree nearby might blow over.

The next day I had a nice downhill ride into Moab but then got on an awful highway. There was a narrow shoulder and tons of traffic. Lots of semis zooming by at 70 mph. Plus it was so hot I felt like I was in an oven. But I struggled on and finally got to Moab. I was exhausted and super hot so I had to get a hotel but they were expensive, the cheapest was about $175. So reluctantly I paid the price. It was heaven. Air conditioning and a micro brewery across the street. A cold beer never tasted so good.

After shopping next day I left Moab I again had to endure the monstrous highway 191. For 10 miles I was sure I would get run over by huge trucks, RVs, busses and campers. It was awful. When I finally turned off on a dirt road to get away from the traffic a thunderstorm rolled through. I had to duck under my rain fly while lightning, thunder and rain blasted all around me. When it finally stopped the road was a pile of mud. I tried walking my bike but the mud stuck to the wheels and ended up clumping all over everything. I was stuck. Then it started raining again. For two hours I hid under my rain fly. I thought, what the hell–I’m in the desert! Why is it raining? By the time it stopped it was futile to continue. The road was mud and sunset was in one hour. So I set up my tent and camped right by the road. The night was good and the road was dry the next morning, although it did drizzle all day.

Then the hills and wind started. A couple days of 30 miles uphill wore me out. One day especially was rough. I was approaching 8000 feet elevation, pushing my bike up steep 8% gradients, no shoulder, and tons of RVs flying by. Plus it got windy so even standing upright was difficult. I finally got to a town and again the hotels were over $150. But I was so exhausted I had to pay it. The next day there was an incredible 20-30 mph headwind and more hills. I only rode 15 miles that day.

OK, enough complaining. You want to tour by bike you have to expect the occasional bad weather, roads and traffic. It comes with the territory.

On to the photos. Some last shots of Western Colorado.

Cool clouds and brilliant blue sky.

A distant thunderstorm.

I am starting to see a lot of cattle guards now. I now dismount and walk across them. I tried riding over one and broke a spoke.

Climbing out of a valley.

Before I forget again a big shout out to my brother Steve, who gave me several audiobooks and podcasts when I visited in July. They have helped me keep my sanity during long dull rides. So far I have listened to the complete works of Sherlock Holmes and am currently midway through a series of podcasts called The History of Rome, a fascinating detailed look at the Roman Empire. Thanks Steve.

Moving on to Utah, here are some of the hills outside of Moab before the storm rolled in.

The dirt road outside Moab just before the thunderstorm hit.

My campsite near the muddy road.

The next day. Cloudy but I was able to ride.

I made my way south and passed through some great landscapes.

A rainbow near a camping spot one day.

I camped out one night in a valley. Very quiet and peaceful, and a little eerie once the sun set. I try to walk in bare feet as much as possible. Somehow I feel more connected to Mother Earth.

Here is my current location in southern Utah. My plan is to continue south to Bryce Canyon then cross over into northern Arizona. I hope the rest of Utah shows a little mercy on my old bones.

9 Responses to “Struggling through Utah”

  1. Kay Andrews says:

    Kevin, such amazing photographs, thank you for sharing. Me, I never really learned to ride a bicycle so good and cannot imagine your adventure or the spirit that gives you the mental and physical strength to start this colossal endeavor. It truly magnificent. Look forward to reading more and seeing more. Safe travels and may the spirits shadow you wherever you go.

  2. Celia says:

    Looks like quite a trip. Keep being safe on those shoulder-less roads. Sounds scary! Nice pics.

  3. Don Kilpela Sr. says:

    Kevin, I am reading this on Friday, September 22. Tomorrow, Griffin and his fiancee are tying the knot and I am officiating. We are somewhat assured that the weather will cooperate as we plan to hold the ceremony on our dock. We will be thinking about you and wishing you were here. Incidentally, Grif will enter married life as a father of two beautiful girls, one of which is in high school and the other in middle school. Perhaps you met them when you were her in July.

    Also, I read in the NYT this morning that some biblical numerologist has predicted that all the “good” people will be swept up in the Rapture today, but likely you and I and probably many others will be left to grapple with the devastation. Luckily, you have had a head start. Keep truckin’.

  4. Jim Kilpela says:

    While living in California, in the 60s, we visited and camped at both Bryce and Zion national Parks. Both places were outstanding places to visit. In Zion, you are in the valley looking skyward and visa-versa in Bryce.

    One morning in Bryce, we woke up to find snow on our tent. I don’t remember the season but it probably springtime.

    Very nice pictures, Kev. be careful on those busy roads.

  5. steve says:

    Nice pictures, Kev. What are you using?
    I just bought an old Canon FD 15mm fisheye and a 20mm f/2.8 to stick onto my Sony mirrorless. Still waiting for delivery. Both of those would be great for landscape shots. I’ll upload some samples to dropbox later next week. Hang in there…don’t over do it. Let me know if you need more audio. I’ve got plenty. We’ve only scratched the surface.

    • Kevin Koski says:

      I am using my Samsung phone but really want to buy a decent camera. It has to be small and light though. Any suggestions?

      I will let you know when I have exhausted the audio I got from you. Currently listening to History on Fire. Great stuff.

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