After a hard, muddy, but overall enjoyable first day on the trail, getting up on day 2 wasn't too difficult.
Earlier in the week, as Chris was planning meals for our group, he bought some shelf-stable bacon. This means that for breakfast, in the middle of nowhere, we could have bacon for breakfast and not die of some un-shelf-stable-bacon-disease. Sweeeeeeeet. Bacon and muffins. Yum!
Chris heated some hot chocolate and the bacon right outside our tent door, and the lure of the food and the beautiful scenery around us was enough to lure even me out of bed.
The river rushed by as we ate our meal and we looked up at the cloud covered skies and hoped that the MudBikeMonster would not return today.
At a little before 9:00, we packed up our gear and we were once again ready with the loaded bikes for another adventuresome day out on the trail.
Day 2 shall be known as The Day of Delirium.
This is what the trail guide says of the first section of today (Westwater to Fish Ford): "... it's a welcome rest from the technical challenges you've faced before now and the miles will begin to roll by very fast. If you're lucky, the desert here will put iyou in a trance and you'll wonder where the last 15 miles went. Not because they weren't enjoyable, but because you achieved a real desert high."
Granted, I didn't read the trail guide before this trip, but "desert high" is exactly how I would describe this section on the spot if I were more eloquent of a speaker. Chris and I cruised along the rolling terrain like our bikes had motors.
Whether it was simply the terrain, some tail wind, a good night's sleep, bacon, or a combination of the four, we felt awesome. Chris and I laughed and smiled and felt like little kids out on a ride around the neighborhood.
B&N were a little bit behind us, but for the most part I think they felt the same way. Until Bill broke a spoke on his rear wheel. That was a huge bummer and would require some strategical planning and good will from a friend to allow him to continue.
We finished with the quick and flowy section, and ultimately came to a more technical section before McGraw Bottom. Chris and I picked our way among the rocks while B&N discussed options with how to deal with his wheel. Riding the dirt and rocks reminded my body that it was still pretty tired from the day before. I asked Chris to mix me up some Gatorade, and I tried to eat to keep my energy up. After such a fun, fast section, I was still having fun, but was feeling the fatigue in my legs for sure.
Chris and I went a bit ahead and entered McGraw Bottom. This BEAUTIFUL section by the river made us walk in several places, but it was worth it.
Chris even cleaned 70% of this short, super steep, crazy loose hill simply on a "hey, let's see you clean that" comment from his loving wife. I could hardly hike up it! How he got that far up with his single speed is beyond comprehension.
Soon we ran into Dave and Lynda out on their personal time trial efforts going the other way. It was fun to see their insane amount of energy as they zipped past.
Soon we all reconvened at highway 128 where we had the choice to take a shortcut down the highway to Dewey Bridge or ride Yellow Jacket Canyon. Due to my fatigue, given the choice by myself I would've taken the shortcut. But... being part of the group, I went with the flow and we rode Yellow Jacket Canyon. The terrain was ok -- technical and super sandy in spots, but overall not too bad. The scenery was the best on the trip so far. Very Moabesque with huge sandstone bluffs and wild cactus flowers blooming all around.
Chris was all smiles riding through one of his favorite sections of the trip. I'm not sure I share the same sentiment, but then again, I can't surf the sand like the pro he is.
In Yellow Jacket Canyon my knee started to whine from a day and a half of riding. I swallowed a bunch of Advil and my mood slowly improved. Soon we were out of Yellow Jacket and cruising down toward Dewey Bridge -- the halfway point in our three day tour.
At the old, historic, and now sadly burned down Dewey bridge, we stopped and ate some yummy PB&honey Pita sandwiches. The rest was welcomed, but not nearly long enough, as soon Chris, Nicolette, and I were back on our bikes trudging up the worst part of the whole trip. (Bill stuck around Dewey and waited for a new wheel brought to him by Saint Fred.)
What can I really say about the Entrada Bluffs road?
I never want to, ever, ever, ever see that road again.
First of all, when you get to Dewey bridge, you become painfully aware of how close you are to Moab, and how you are really only halfway there based on trail distance. All you (well, at least I) want to do is cruise down the road to Moab, and all you really HAVE to do is skirt to the left, up and down a few mountains, and then back to Moab. Eww. Then, you have to climb your tired body up a painfully long and often loose 12 mile climb that seems to have no end in sight. It was hot with no breeze. I was tired.
This part, which should've taken us a few short hours, took us 3+. About 3/4 of the way up the climb, Bill even caught back up. Around each bend, Nicolette and I would look for the summit, and around each bend we would find another freaking hill to climb. Entrada Bluffs was demoralizing and painful. I've gained perspective on most of this trip over the past week off the bike, but this part still remains in my mind as terrible. Annoying. And terrible.
We went up up up. Then, as we reached the summit of the climb, I felt relieved. Now we could go down.
Technical downs don't count as downs in my book. It is not relaxing, it is not refreshing, it is certainly not what you want to do after climbing for the last three hours.
So guess what my already ticked off attitude had to do?
Go down some technical sections.
And we had yet to meet Rose Garden Hill.
By Rose Garden hill, Chris was getting stressed and a little ticked off. He knew that we'd taken an extraordinarily long time getting up the hill, and still had a ways to go before we reached Hideout Camp -- our destination for the day. This was the first and only time on the trip that Chris didn't seem to enjoy himself. He was worried that we wouldn't make it to camp by dark, and worried that we'd wasted too much time going up the darn hill. He hiked his bike down and up Rose Garden Hill as B&N and I followed behind. I don't think B&N were happy to see that we had to both hike down and then back up Rose Garden although I'd already been warned.
On the hike up, I passed B&N and started what Chris describes as my "Endurance Eyes" phase. I literally lost my mind at this point. I started to hallucinate (once seeing what appeared to be Chris's legs hanging off the side of a trail -- when I got up to it, there wasn't anything there -- not even anything that could pass as legs). I even imagined I saw and hit the sleep monster that Chris had described from his race the week prior. To me, he looked like one of the monsters from Monsters Inc, cute, but he needed a beat down for taunting my hubby the week before.
I had seriously neglected my eating, and it was started to effect my brain.
When hiking up the hill, I had the greatest realization of the whole trip. I could take off my helmet when hiking. Wow. The stupidest things seem like genius ideas when in a state of delirium. Soon I caught up with Chris, he saw "The Eyes" and we cruised along the roller coaster of smoothness to find our water and campsite (which we still didn't quite know how far away it was). We stopped to add more clothing as the sun was almost totally down at this point, and saw Nicolette coming up behind us. Bill had broken a chain. Chris went back to help him and sent us girls ahead, in the dark, with the GPS to find the campsite. We rode along, bitched a bit, but also pretty quiet in our hunger and tiredness. Soon we saw this sign:
The sign perked us up, and shortly the boys caught back up. Unfortunately, the sign didn't tell us HOW FAR the campsite was -- we just knew it had to be close enough for them to even put a sign up. So, everyone else turned on their little headlights and I followed behind Chris and mooched off of his. We cruised down a road for quite a while and finally found signs of the campsite. A few turns around the bend and we were at a sandy area which was close enough to water to be called our resting area for the night. Chris immediately got to work on our dinner (thanks again honey!), while I tried to be helpful and lay flat at the same time. I'm sure I wasn't much help.
Unlike the first night, I had a hard time eating dinner. It tasted good, but I couldn't figure out a way to lay down and eat at the same time. That presented a problem where I had to choose which was more important to me. I chose laying down. In the process of laying down, I realized that somehow along the trail, I had punctured a small hole in my sleeping pad. So Chris and I had to patch it. And it didn't even hold. But I was tired enough that I didn't really care.
We had somehow made it through Day 2.
One more day left. And oh goody, the next day would start with ANOTHER climb...