Leaving Price, headed for Huntington or, possibly, Castle Dale
I overslept in Price and decided to not try to make it to Fairview today. There was just too much climbing, and too much wind today, on UT 31 for that ride to be possible for me. I decided to take it easy this morning at the motel in Price and then ride to Huntington, where UT 31 starts and decide what to do next. One possibility was to ride on to Castle Dale where the are motels, and start my ride from there tomorrow. Another was to, somehow, stay in Huntington and start from there. I left from my motel about 10:30 and stopped at a bank in Price to used the ATM. Since it was Sunday in a small Mormon town, very few businesses were open in Price.
This is a scenic road?
Riding south out of Price was easy, and the road was fine if a little bumpy, but the views., on what is marked as a scenic road, weren't scenic. Utah has some stunning scenery, but it also has some quite ugly desert. This ride started out with very unpromising views. To fair, the smoke from two big fires - one the biggest ever in Utah - didn't help.
The countryside did get pretty - desert pretty - roughly half way to Huntington. I stopped for a break where there was a guard rail on the ascent to a cut through a ridge and, looking back, was struck by the beauty of the sand covered ridges I had ridden through. As I neared Huntington, I began to get excited about the ridges to the west that I needed to ride through an over.
Huntington, even more than Price, was closed for Sunday. Fortunately there are two service station/convenience stores that don't close on Sunday, and one them has a Subway in it. I had an OK 'continental breakfast' at my motel in Price, but, by 1 PM when I got to Huntington, I was ready for lunch. Subway worked well for me today.
Since Hunting was closed, the prospect of staying there had little appeal. Castle Dale didn't seem likely to be much better. I decided, at the Subway, that I'd ride up UT 31 and see how far I got. I had food - and I got more at Subway - and water - and I got more at Subway - to spend the night camping on UT 31. I had little to gain by not getting as far up UT 31 as I could today.
The start of UT 31
The start of UT 31 was pretty flat and very windy. It was several hard miles of riding before I reached the place where UT 31 start up a canyon.
Oh, there is a power plant up here
and a LOT of wind blowing in my face
Then I got see the Huntington Power Plant as I slowly ground up to it and by it riding into a strong wind. Much of the stretch was in my lowest gears at 4 to 5 mph. Not fun. However, things improved as I climbed farther up the canyon. Seven or eight miles up - which took an hour of climbing - I stopped for a break by the river that formede the canyon. It was pretty by the river, the wind wasn't as bad as it had been, and there was a nice looking state campground near where I stopped.
A few miles further up, the road enter a national forest and there are a bunch of campgrounds, including some tent only ones that were really pretty. I was now getting excited about camping up there.
It does get pretty
Compared to yesterday's climb, UT 31 was steeper when it climbed, but it also had some flatish sections where I was able to use my middle ring. by 7000 feet, it was looking a lot more like Colorado than Utah, and I was reminded of the old road between Middlegate and Austin, NV. In this part of the world, going up means getting wetter and prettier. UT 31 was getting very pretty, and the wind was almost gone.
The road follows the river which is white water on the steeper bits
I decided to ride on up to 8000 feet today and then find a campground. That worked out well as there was a historical place with information about campgrounds at about 7900 feet. It showed 'Old Persons' Campground not far ahead. I checked it out, found that it had running water - I was was carrying enough water, but it was nice to have more than enough - and a camp-host, so I selected a site at about 5:30 PM.
20 miles on and 2000 feet higher, the view is much better and the wind was gone
When I was putting my Tarptent up, I broke the pole that forms an arch at the foot of the tent. it was my fault - I used too much force - but I still don't understand what I was doing that made it so hard to get the pole into its sockets. The broken pole ends ripped the sleeve the pole goes in, but the ripstop sil-nylon held well enough that I was still able to put the tent up and sleep in it. I was not a happy camper, but I could, and did, get my camp setup OK for the good weather.
UT 31 is a WPA era National Park and hydroelectric project
Later, I ate some of my supplies and, since this is bear county, took the rest of my food over to the camp-host's trailer where he had a place to safely store it. The camp-host and I, and a little later, his wife, got to visiting and they invited me to supper. I didn't eat a lot since I'd already had 'supper' but it was nice to eat with them and to eat a real supper. After supper we visited some more and, as the temperature started to plummet as the sun when behind a mountain, I realized I had made a mistake in choosing to camp so high up. It was beautiful, but it was also going to get too cold for the equipment I had with me. The camp host said it would probably get down to 35. My equipment was only good for 45.
The camp-host, and his wife loaned me the stuff I needed to get through the night without being chilled. They had a serape in their truck, an emergency blanket in their car, and when that seemed marginal, she got me the quilt off of their bed (!). I wasn't cold that night, and I was very glad I'd picked that campground.