Down and Out in Hanksville

Day 64-68 • May 4-8, 2012 • Torrey to Hanksville, UT •  58 miles

We bade Rob another farewell at the campground and plummeted downhill toward Torrey.  Our friends Kelly and Loch from Boulder waved as they passed us in their car.  By the time we reached highway 24 we were hungry again so we stopped at Subway before continuing the descent into Capitol Reef National Park. There we met Wendi and Pumper, the most stylish VW van I’ve seen.  Wendi and her partner are from Ontario BC and on their own adventure of a lifetime which is worth checking out.  Zoe scored a cool psychedelic peace sign button from Wendi!  There was an outdoor supply store nearby where we found fuel canisters(!) and a replacement water bottle cage. 

The ride through Capitol Reef was more like a controlled fall with a continuous supply of canyons, crags, hoodoos and vistas whizzing by.  When we reached what looked like a rise in the land or a box canyon and a climb seemed imminent, the road would somehow carve through the folds in the landscape, merely slowing the descent until a new line was found and we were falling again.  This repeated many times, well past the boundaries of Capitol Reef, making it seem like we were falling into an abyss.  The enormity and deep red coloring of the surrounding rock made the abyss seem otherworldly, with occasional comic relief provided by Pumper the VW van as we leap-frogged each other between scenic stops.

At Fruita we stopped at the visitors center where Zoe adopted a Yellow Bellied Marmot.  Mr. Boulder would accompany us until Lisa arrived in a week or so.  The lush green trees of the apple orchards near Fruita were a striking contrast to the red rocks and the Fremont River was cold and inviting.  We dipped our hats in it to cool off.  At one of the many scenic views we met Wiilem and Belsie, a couple from Holland who were very excited about our trip.  Belsie gave Zoe a pendant with two ceramic Dutch clogs—very sweet.

Closer to Hanksville the deep reds turned to lighter shades of brown and the rate of descent decreased.  We continued to make good time, aided by a nice tail wind.  We reached Hanksville in late afternoon, about sixty miles away from and four thousand feet below where we started today on Boulder Mountain. 

A perfect day but for one thing:  the low grade cold I’d been nursing since Calf Creek had turned ugly.  That evening I couldn’t get a sentence out without triggering a coughing fit.  And I was up most of the night with an intense sinus headache.  I’d seen this movie before and the ending involved antibiotics.  The Hanksville clinic was open on Wednesdays, unfortunately we arrived on a Friday.  Too bad we’d left Torrey which was much closer to medical care and had many more services in general.

“No worries,” I thought, “I can buck history and beat this on my own, we’ll be out of here long before Wednesday.”  And with that thought I avoided taking any measures that could have scored me some antibiotics sooner.  We greeted many fellow campers in the Red Rock RV park where we were staying.  Willy and Rene were another interesting Dutch couple–  Rene was a glider pilot who had recently taken his certification ride for a US license at Turf Soaring in Phoenix, the same place I got my glider ticket.  Rene provided me some whiskey, for medicinal purposes.  Erik and Remko, the Dutch cyclists we met way back in Morro Bay, rolled up one day.  We said goodbye to them all, too sick to venture into some of the harshest desert we’d seen yet.  Stuck in Hanksville watching the snow line on the Henry mountains slowly recede.

In spite of my sinus problems, we had a lot of fun hanging out again with Erik and Remko.  When we parted ways in Morro Bay their plans didn’t include Hanksville.  But plans change and we were happy for this one.  Remko likes to draw and spent a lot of time with a rapt Zoe, teaching her how to draw profiles and some cartoon characters like Garfield and Bart Simpson.  We traded names of some of our favorite indie bands which reminded me how out of touch I am in the world of modern music.  We discussed the real story behind 9/11.  On their last night in Hanksville we pooled our resources and shared one of their signature touring meals of pasta with homemade sauce.  Happy trails Erik and Remko,  I hope I didn’t pass my crud to you.

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