Southwest Day 29: Kanab to Jacob Lake

September 21, 2021. 38 miles, 3826 feet of climbing.

Today was an uphill day, which I expected. It was also the day of flat tires, which I didn’t. I got 3.5 flat tires and ugh, was that annoying!

The day started off fine, leaving the motel and quickly turning onto 89A. The shoulder disappeared pretty quickly, but the traffic wasn’t very heavy so it was ok. I had a few downhill miles to start, and soon enough was in Arizona.

I remember thinking “Arizona is supposed to cause a lot of flats”, which turned out to be correct though I am not sure they were all Arizona’s fault. Anyway, the road soon started going gently uphill, with a headwind, through scrubby desert with views of the Utah cliffs in the distance to one side.

The first flat was caused by a piece of a staple. It looked suspiciously like a piece of the same staple that caused my first flat back in Colorado. It was just barely sticking out on the inside of the tire and was otherwise entirely within one of the thicker pieces of tread. I had to pull it out with a pair of tweezers. I don’t know whether it’s possible that it’s been lurking in the tire this whole time. In any case, I changed the tube and got on my way, only to have the tire go flat a couple miles later. It was a puncture on the inside of the tube and I couldn’t really find a cause. My hypothesis is that some bit of prickly plant matter got into the tire while I was changing the tube in the wind in the desert. Anyway, I was out of new tubes so I patched one. And then managed to put another hole in it by pinching it while reinstalling the tire. Patched that too. Broke one of my tire irons (luckily I only really need one). Got the tire back on. Rode another 10 miles or so and got a third flat. This time I happened to be in a much better location and patched the tube in a pull-out with gravel and shade. I tried to really make sure there was nothing in the tire, and so far so good. Fingers crossed. Anyway, days with three flat tires are no fun.

I didn’t take pictures of the tire fixing, but I did take a few photos of other things. They seem to have signs when crossing thousand foot elevation lines, which gives a sense of progress at least.

As I climbed there started to be a few more trees, and some colorful roadcuts.

I stopped at a viewpoint that had about the same view I had been seeing off to my left during the climb, along with a relatively aesthetially pleasing version of the grand staircase diagram that is pretty common around here.

The last 15 miles or so were less steep and through increasingly pleasant forest. I was mostly just hoping my tire would behave. I was pretty happy to see the signs for Jacob Lake.

I had reserved a cabin at the Inn (there are also a few campgrounds), and also stopped by the store for some snacks and a milkshake. The cabin was really cute and an enjoyable place to relax after an annoying, though not realy all that strenuous, day.

Bronwyn Woods