Ferron, UT to Fillmore, UT – 171.3 miles
I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow last night and slept like I hadn’t in days. We got up and were ready for the trail at our usual mid-morning time…okay, late morning today. But in my defense, after a couple very rough nights the soft bed was especially difficult to extract myself from.
A short backtrack put us on route into the Manti la Sal National Forest. We climbed into the forest on rocky paths that twisted through the mountains and quickly made our way to an elevation of 10,800 feet. Spruce trees reintroduced themselves into the scenery along with aspen marked by visitors with initials and vows of everlasting love. The view from the summit was incredible as you could see across to white tops. At a glance it looked like snow, but a closer look brought the realization that the white rocks of Utah were simply trying to imitate the snowy peaks of Colorado.
We cruised through knee high grasses and shrubs at the top of the mountain range with long eared rabbits darting across the path. Cattle roamed the tops grazing the yellow growth searching for the rare green stuff. One section of road had the first sheep we’d seen all trip. Most had a recent haircut, but one in particular seemed to have eluded the shearer and was sporting flowing locks longer than the rest.
The descent out of the mountains was on sandy roads down to the town of Richfield. As I looked across to the next mountain range, I noticed they had a deep red color that swirled with the white rock at an angle making them look like candy canes. We gassed up in the city and pushed on into Fish Lake National Forest where we had more climbs with less scenery. Cattle walked the roads and shot across at the last second with lightning fast head fakes and stutter starts that would put Barry Sanders to shame.
Overall the trail was long and slow going making for fairly low mileage. It was a rare and joyous occasion to shift into third gear. Most of the paths were rated by the state as blue (moderate), but that difficulty varied greatly having us question the Utah ranking system. The one we did agree with was a black (very difficult) climb that sniped Naomi’s bike out from under her. No bullet holes were found and we were glad less than lethal measures were used.