I knew yesterday was the long day (~60 miles), so I planned on today being only 50 miles or so. I was shocked by the temperature in the upper 20s as I left in the morning, starting with a great breakfast place in Williams. Afterwards, I headed down a side frontage road paralleling the highway to the Grand Canyon where I eventually swung onto beautiful ochre/red gravel and passed through open grassland interspersed with junipers. By mid-morning, the Sun had warmed the temperatures enough to remove my multiple jackets and begin a good sweat. The gravel routes passed by several tanks and reservoirs before t-boning into the highway leading to the Grand Canyon. I turned north and rode the shoulder of the highway while loads of tourists passed in RVs and buses on their way to the canyon.
I stopped at the Shell gas station near Star Valley and the KOA to grab some AA batteries (I forgot to replace the dying ones in my GPS). I crossed the highway and entered Star Valley. This was actually a gorgeous, I think unincorporated community, with beautiful homes set in the junipers, pines, and grasslands. After a tarmac climb, the road became excellent gravel that swooped down off a saddle into a wide prairie below. I entered the Kaibab National Forest and my route suddenly took a left off the perfect gravel onto one of the most gnarly, rocky, and little-used double track jeep road I had ever ridden. Honestly, I had to do a double-take at my GPS this route seemed so primitive; I feel like a single rancher might drive this route once a year.
I opened and closed the most janky barbed-wire fences. One took 15 minutes for me to get open (without slicing myself apart) and closed; I became convinced at one point that the rancher who put this here was so paranoid about sagging fence that he took too much slack out for me to actually get it back on. For real, I actually pulled my shoulder muscling it back on.
The route continued to be strewn with baby-heads and volcanic pumice that shook my body until my wrists and hands screamed. The further I went, the more remote the area seemed to get. But for all the primitive the route was, it made the views that much more beautiful. After traversing along a canyon, the views opened up in high desert grassland on my left and the high peaks of volcanic rims on my right. I passed through a basin of sagebrush before I saw smoke in the distance, joined a well-traveled dirt road, and passed a crew of hotshots watching the prescribed burn. I climbed up into the pines of some volcanic peaks where a pickup passed me full of hunters out looking for pronghorn; they complimented my badassery with cycling in this remote area. After climbing into the remote peaks, a significant downhill ensued that swept me towards Kendrick Peak in the distance.
I seemed to be riding straight up the north side of the peak, and by now, it began dawning on me that the large amount of elevation gain today was equating to me in no-way getting to my desired camping spot on the flanks of SP Crater tonight. I had to adjust my expectations for where I was planning to camp and get water with the quickly approaching evening. After the road I was only circumscribed Kendrick, I flew down (again, a part of the Barn Burner route) the north side and passed several dry tanks labeled as potential water sources. The temperatures began plummeting. I was preparing for a cold night ahead as a cold front was predicting a massively low temperature. I stopped to put on gloves, hat, jackets, tights, wind layers, etc. so I could keep pedaling into the cold evening.
By 5 pm, I found myself crossing a highway, opening and closing a barbed wire fence, and making my way towards what I hoped would be a good water source. And it was a GREAT water source - the only one around. It was a cattle tank filled to the top with algae water. I filled up and backtracked my route to some beautiful pine trees to serve as good wind breaks for the cold night ahead. I setup my tarp in storm mode to help block the arctic wind. I placed my bivy and quilt underneath. In the dark, I found a log several hundred feet away to eat with the shine of starlight dark skies overhead. Food eaten and stored, I was in a full shiver before I climbed into my quilt where temperatures continued to drop straight through the night until first dawn. It was a full moon night and many times when I woke, silver light made the woods as bright as day.