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Day 149: 12/20/17  Zion to Kanab and a pretty big trip change for the next section!

Miles: 6 miles on bicycle Steps: 11,020 Vertical gain: 1,600 ft. Liquid consumed: 140 oz. Wildlife: nice dogs at Lynn’s House Faith in Humanity: Amazing Family from Mexico, Trail angel Lynn in Kanab, thank you so much to everyone! Also met Jason, really cool guy working in Zion. Well, the trip has officially changed today! I woke up really early as I knew I had a huge hill to climb through Zion National Park. I packed up as quietly as I cold, munched on some Cinnamon Toast Crunch hold the milk, and left at first light, just before 7:30am. The first couple miles included a cool paved bike path along the beautiful Virgin River. Also, incredible lighting on the towering rock formations all around. The trail was beautiful, but my body was struggling. My knees hurt every pedal stroke. I’m scared if I keep cycling I’m going to blow out a knee! This was a scary realization... I hit the road and started a steep switchbacked climb to the Zion Carmel Tunnel, which bicycles are prohibited from entering. I hung out at the tunnel traffic control station and talked a bunch with Jason, a really cool employee at the park. While we chatted I had my thumb out in attempt to catch a ride through the forbidden tunnel. Quite a few cars passed me by (unsurprisingly as I also had a fully loaded bike that needed to go for the ride), then a jeep with a trailer pulled over! This I meet Enrique and his family from Mexico. Enrique is getting a graduate degree in engineering in Kentucky, and is very nice. Not only do I get to be chatty, but I get to be chatty en espanol! I love speaking Spanish and it was really fun to describe my trip and ask them all sorts of questions, too! On this journey of good Spanish conversation I made a change to the journey! Up until this tunnel in Zion National Park, I had connected every inch via human power: either cycling or hiking. There were a couple times that I didn’t repeat sections (I hiked 12 miles of paved roads to Black Canyon, but then rode in a car on those miles back and a couple others), but this one I decided to just skip. And not just the tunnel, I took a ride to Kanab, UT skipping about 35 miles. Honestly, I’m happy I did it. At some points during the first 148 days of this trip I thought I’d try to not skip anything ever, but that’s just silly! My knees hurt and I shouldn’t get hurt! Honestly, I’ve decided I’m totally fine skipping lots of sections between AZ and FL. There’s limited public land, I’m not the biggest fan of bike touring (I might be more-so a fan if my knees didn’t hurt, I’ll keep messing with saddle adjustment), and this trip is Walk The Parks, not Bike The Parks! Anyway, I’m not sure exactly how this will shape out, but I’m thinking about it. Anyone out there want to lend me a car for 3 months!?? In my dream world: I would love to drive to all the Parks and explore each one in depth, then hop on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia and do a continuous, no skipping route walking from Georgia to Maine to Olympic National Park in Washington then down to Southern CA. We shall see as the adventure continues! Next up: Kanab, UT and complicated (but fun) trip logistics. I don’t want to ride around the Grand Canyon. I want to walk through it! Easier said than done. First, to the rental car spot. I said goodbye and took some photos with me amazing friends from Mexico and rented the car. I mailed my new sleeping bag to a Trail Angels house in Kanab. I drive there and meet Lynn and her mom who are both amazing and cool and fun to talk to! They are so generous: not only have they let me mail a package there, but they are going to let me spend the night there and even drive me to the start of the Arizona Trail, a 45 minute drive away! Thank you sooooooo much! Yay! After that jovial encounter I hit the road again, headed very briefly to Flagstaff, AZ, a 3 and a half hour drive away. I found a $23 hotel there for the night! I was going to camp but for $23 I’m not going to pass that up! I went to REI to buy a couple pieces of gear (going to try out some insulated water bottles as I have some very long sections coming up Hiking with cold temps and no water... anyway after REI I went to Walmart and bought 11(!!!) days of food for my upcoming hike. That’s a ton of food! I checked in to the hotel and honestly it’s pretty nice, not sure how I got such a good deal! Off season travel has some benefits for sure. Next up: a huge mess then organize organize organize. I did laundry, looked at my glorious new sleeping bag from Western Mountaineering, received some free bike gear from Trek/Bontrager (thank you!!!) and some candy from my friends at my old job at Aspen Snowmass! So cool! The goal: separate food into 11 portions, 1 for each day, separate gear that I don’t need and put that in with my cycling stuff. Also I need to mail my other sleeping bag and a couple of other things to NY. Sounds easy but it took quite a while. 11 days of food is so much! Tomorrow I’m going to drive to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, drop off my bicycle, then drive 3 hours back to Kanab, UT and spend the night there and start my 11 day hike through the Grand Canyon over Christmas and New Years and hiking up and back to my bicycle on New Years Day! I’m really excited! There is a snowstorm coming in tonight but doesn’t look too crazy, hope I don’t wake up to a foot of snow!

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