11-10-2011 Emigration Canyon, SLC, UT (27.6 miles, 2031′ gain)

I woke up at 8:00, which is reasonable, but still much later than I’d really prefer. Even so, a truly awesome day was ahead! We are staying at a Howard Johnson hotel right in downtown Salt Lake City. It’s a great deal for such a sweet location! I’d never stayed in a HoJo before (I can’t believe they really call themselves HoJo) and it’s very decent. Horrible coffee though. Perhaps with all the Mormons nobody actually drinks the stuff, and the denizens of a cheap hotel are too sleepy to notice? (I don’t have high standards either, I promise! I’ve never had a bad cup of coffee from a gas station.)

The other day Louis and I were discussing the fact that we’ve kind of given up on camping outside for the season. We’ve done winter camping before, with temperatures as low as 18F at night. It’s totally doable. I’d still like to do more of that, but I admit that the one and only reason for this masochistic desire is because I feel I need toughening up. I already consider myself relatively tough (physically, mentally, and cold-tolerance-wise) which is exactly why I want to push myself harder. I think one can go much further in life by getting better at things you’re already good at rather than trying to be perfect at everything. So we’ll see if I can convince Louis that snow camping in November would a really good idea. We’ll just pack the tent up with every blanket we own, and huddle down into our zero-degree sleeping bags dressed up in seventeen layers. What can’t you survive, if you’re prepared? (No wait, don’t answer that…)

So, today! I rode a bike. I want to say this was the best bike ride of my life, and I think that might even be true. It had all the elements required to attain sheer bliss: distance, elevation gain, the kind of bike lane one dreams about, very little traffic, and a sweet view from the top. The only bike ride that compares was one I took between Gorham and Pinkham Notch in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, but that one was punctuated by trucks carrying tree trunks passing much too close for comfort.

By the way, Emigration Canyon Drive (my route for the day) is part of the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail. This was the path taken by Mormon pioneers entering Salt Lake Valley in 1847. As he looked over the canyon, Brigham Young famously declared “This is the right place. Drive on.” Whatever your thoughts on the Mormon religion are, I find the story of their exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois (where they were not welcome) to Salt Lake City, Utah to be inspirational. Around 70 thousand people made the twelve-hundred-ish mile journey “using mainly large farm wagons, handcarts, and, in some cases, personally carrying their belongings” [source: wikipedia]. These folks were tough, that’s for sure.

So anyway, the bike itself can be summed up as follows: going up was heart-pounding, going down, bone-chilling. Winter is afoot.

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3 Responses to 11-10-2011 Emigration Canyon, SLC, UT (27.6 miles, 2031′ gain)

  1. Ellen says:

    Oooo, pretty. Also: I’m with Louis on team “Let’s sleep indoors when it’s 19 degrees out.”

  2. Calley says:

    I can’t even believe how much you’re getting to see this year – thanks so much for sharing it! Are you headed south from here? I can’t recommend Zion highly enough, and practically anywhere in south Utah is going to be gorgeous 😉

  3. Maggie says:

    Calley, that is a really good idea, you know what, we just might! Have to see if it fits in the schedule…

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