Day 53 • April 23, 2012 • Marble Canyon to ???, AZ • 26 miles
Rob stashed his car at the Lee’s Ferry boat launch and joined us on the ride today. It was another stunningly beautiful ride with the backdrop of Marble Canyon and the Vermillion Cliffs. It was also stunningly hot, reaching the mid-90’s (I’m guessing) at some point. We stopped often to cool off and top off our water, first at Vermillion Cliffs and then at Cliff Dwellers. Each had not much more than a motel and convenience store.
We stopped in Lee’s Ferry Lodge, a charming old motel with incredible views, shade for our bikes, and an inviting restaurant, and bellied up to the bar. We talked for a long time with Maggie, the proprietor, while she kept our Gatorade bottles filled with ice. We shared adventures, hers being a recent walk along the Camino de Santiago in Spain, which sounded wonderful. She independently confirmed rumors of wondrous milk shakes at Jacob’s Lake. She also gave us a local perspective on national politics, including the devastating impact on the local economy during Gale Norton’s tenure (and beyond) as Secretary of the Interior under Bush II when she abruptly shifted management of the Glen Canyon dam away from recreational use and focused primarily on hydro-power production. We also talked about the perspectives of Edward Abbey and Marc Reisner (Cadillac Desert) on water rights and land management in the desert southwest. Maggie seemed to love where she lived but didn’t have a lot of faith in the way it was being managed.
We eventually decided we should move on up the road and made it as far as Cliff Dwellers (maybe five miles) before stopping again to cool off. This time the proprietor of that business let us use the hose out back to douse ourselves. Very friendly folk around here.
The goal for the day was a milk shake at Jacob Lake but we didn’t even get close. Not long after Cliff Dweller’s Rob was bonking and decided to head back to his car at Lee’s Ferry and try again another day. Fortunately it was all downhill going the other way. Not much more than a mile after that Zoe and I stopped for a snack and never got started again. We were pretty tired and it finally occurred to us that in all of our conversation with the local residents we forgot to eat lunch. That explained some things. We were so far behind the curve on eating that we decided to set up camp right there, a refreshingly easy thing to do out in the desert on BLM land. Rob drove back and found us to let us know he made it back OK and to share some refreshing beverages before heading back to Lee’s Ferry to camp. Zoe and I watched the clouds dissipate into a beautiful sunset and had a peaceful night with dreams of milk shakes.