Southwest Day 23: Pine Valley to Cedar City

September 15, 2021. 46 miles, 2419 feet of climbing.

Today didn’t have nearly as much climbing, and actually had some downhill bits. But I wasn’t sure what the unpaved part would be like. Turned out not to be too bad at all. A little washboarded in places, but better than many days on the last trip in Chile.

I backtracked a few miles to start out, but swung by the reservoir in Pine Valley. There were lots of nice picnic spots, and quite a few people fishing.

The downhill into town had felt so good yesterday that I was worried it would be a hard start to the day to go up. But it wasn’t. It seemed mostly flat. I guess that’s what being tired at the end of the day will do. Soon enough I got to the dirt road turn-off. The first part was the worst - a short climb up a fairly washboarded section of road. It soon leveled off at both the macro and micro scale.

The scrubby trees turned to grass for a while in the aptly named valley.

There were lots of cows, and a fair number of cattle guards across the road. Most of the cows were free ranging, and sometimes were hanging out in the road. They were mostly pretty scared of me, which is good because I was also a bit scared of them. Cows are big. At one point the road spent a while as a ledge along a steep hill. A cow tried to run away from me up the hill, failed, and then trotted down the road for quite a while before finding a spot it could escape into. So I suppose today I herded cows on my bicycle.

The terrain got a lot hillier, and there were a few hills with what looked like fire damage.

Sometimes downhills on unpaved roads can be more trouble than they are worth, but I got a couple decent ones today. The first long downhill brought me into the slightly more populated part of thye world where there were a couple of actual intersections and some houses. I still think I saw somthing like one pickup truck and two ATVs the entire time I was on the dirt roads today. That was pretty nice, and did remind me a bit of the Patagonia trip.

Approaching the last hill of the unpaved section.
Approaching the last hill of the unpaved section.
There were occasional small bursts of colors that weren't from rocks.
There were occasional small bursts of colors that weren’t from rocks.

Soon enough I was back to the pavement of highway 56. It was nice to have the smooth surface, but the return to traffic wasn’t as nice. The shoulder was fine, it’s just less peacefull. Some nice rocks though.

I got a nice long downhill on the pavement, and then something like 10 miles across what looked flat but was probably slightly uphill toward Cedar City. I could see the city the whole time and the road went mostly straight toward it. It barely felt like I was making any progress. And it was the really sunny part of the afternoon. But ever so slowly I got closer to the hills backing the city, passed through the industrial outskirts, and passed by the university. I got a room at another conveniently located Best Western, made a trip to the grocery store across the street for dinner, and otherwise collapsed and watched Netflix for a few hours.

Approaching Cedar City...
Approaching Cedar City…
..for what seemed like forever.
..for what seemed like forever.

Tomorrow is one of the more intimidating climbs of the trip - 25 miles of continuous uphill to climb almost 5000 ft to the campground in Cedar Breaks National Monument. I did that much climbing yesterday though, so seems achievable.

Bronwyn Woods