Southwest Day 32: Jacob Lake to Marble Canyon
September 24, 2021. 41 miles, 550 feet of climbing.
I got a breakfast burrito from the Jacob Lake Inn restaurant - third meal in one place, which is a novelty! I ate at their picnic tables outside and took advantage of the wifi. Despite their website claiming no availability, I called the Marble Canyon Lodge just in case there was a room for tonight. They made a reservation easily enough. I don't know if there was a cancelation or if their online system is just out of sync (the reservations once I got there were written in a physical book). Anyway, this was exciting news for the morning. The other option would be to go 4 miles off route and substantially downhill to the Lee's Ferry campground. Would be fine for today but make tomorrow even longer with more climbing (and the slower start from packing up camp).
Today's ride started with a long (occasionally interrupted) downhill through forest with increasingly small trees as I went back to desert.
Eventually I got to an overlook and then a series of dramatic switchbacks down to wide empty land with the Vermillion Cliffs to the left. It's hard to get a photograph that really reflects the expansiveness of it.
I'm not really a fan of 89A. It doesn't have a shoulder at all, with traffic that increased throughout the day. At least most of the ride was through wide open space. No problem with people seeing me, just not the most relaxing riding to always have to pay attention to sharing space with vehicles. This part of the ride was still nominally downhill, but not in a never-have-to-pedal sort of way.
There are a couple of tiny (tiny) villages clumped together within 10 miles of eachother near the crossing of the Colorado. 89A had a shoulder for a short while through each village, which was really nice but mostly just emphasized how annoying the rest of the road was.
The Grand Canyon is big, but there are canyons with (currently dry) streams all over around here. The Vermillion Cliffs got closer and closer all day, and I got a bit of a return to the Utah-style colors.
The traffic kept picking up, so despite the mostly-downhill day I was quite happy to reach Marble Canyon and my motel room. I was a bit early and had to wait for the room to be cleaned so hung out at a picnic table outside the gas station with iced tea and an ice cream sandwich.
The room turned out to be quite cozy, with enough cell reception to entertain myself for a few hours. I decided to cook myself pasta on the patio just outside and aim for an early night in preparation for an early start and a long day tomorrow.