Cannonville to Panguitch – 51 miles
Today we headed to Bryce Canyon. It was a crisp morning as we headed through the Bryce Valley. Soon we were climbing as the scenery changed from the valley to rock canyons. I was glad I had rested my legs the day before as we had about four miles of climbing as we reached our elevation of 8,310′. Once we got to this point, we had a few miles of level road to the entrance of the park. The plan was to be shuttled in 11 miles to our lunch stop and from there we could take our sack lunch with us as we explored the loops through the park. Well, in typical fashion, being on the first shuttle in, we had a little issue with the park officials so we were dropped off at the visitor center. Most of the cyclists after us did get shuttled in as planned.
I headed for what I figured would be the best overlook… Bryce Point. It was phenomenal. I took quite a few photos and walked around on some of the trails. From there I headed to Paria View. I could see all these trails below that weaved through the mountains. I want to come back and spend some time hiking some of these trails.
Next I went to Inspiration Point, which was truly an inspiration, and finally to Sunset Point. My last stop was at the visitor center where a purchased a t-shirt that said Utah Rocks and lists five of the parks that I have been in on this trip: Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce and Capital Reef.
I ate lunch with two other cyclists and then headed toward Red Canyon. We were suppose to watch for a bike trail as we headed west on by-way 12 and this would take us the five to six miles through the Canyon. Found the trail which was just along the highway at first, but soon looped back deeper off the highway. The scenery was gorgeous as we headed on a mostly downhill winding trail. I looped my camera strap on my hand so I wouldn’t drop it as I alternated slowing with my brake and taking photos along the way. This is one of the most scenic bike trails I have ever been on. Eventually it looped back to where we had to pick up by-way 12 again, but it was still on a down grade as we headed the last 10 miles to our overnight town.
Panguitch was a welcome site as I weaved around this canyon valley and headed into town. This was going to be one of the larger towns we would stay in and I was looking for the fairgrounds, which was our campsite. Took my time going through town and noticed a couple of people working on a landscape project that appeared to be in tribute of an early settler. I couldn’t help but notice a bronze statue with what appeared to be a quilt unfurled out before him. I had to stop and get the story… this is the best part of these bike tours… learning the local history. Due to the area’s high elevation, 6,600′ above sea level, the settlers’ initial crops did not mature and the community suffered severely during the first harsh winter. At a crisis point, seven men left the community to seek flour and foodstuffs from surrounding communities. Heavy snow forced the abandonment of wagons and teams, and the men finished their rescue mission on foot, reportedly by laying one quilt after another upon the snow to maintain their footing. It was a very interesting story and one the town is quite proud of. The dedication will take place in a few weeks and I am a little disappointed that I won’t see the area upon completion. They have put a lot of work into it.
Well, now I am off to find the fairgrounds and my final night of tenting. It apparently gets pretty cold in this town so we have the option of sleeping in the building where we will eat, but I decided to tent it one last time. I had time to clean up and do a little more exploring in the town. Then we gathered in the camp area to visit since this would be our last time to see each other. I exchanged emails with several people I had bonded with along the way and said goodbye to many after our evening meal.