The invitation was very welcome. Since mapping out the trip, Dave and I referred to this mountain as “THE BIG CLIMB”. Starting around 6,000 feet, the road follows Cedar Canyon for 17 miles or so and climbs all the way up to 9,900. On our elevation charts it was a daunting figure indeed.
We got to the shop, pumped our tires, and headed over to the group gathered by the door. Waiting for us were three members of the Color Country Cycling Club: Tim, whom we’d met at the shop, Craig, and Chanda. After introductions were made we hit the road and started the climb.
To make a long story short, it was a long, difficult climb. Tim’s computer registered the grade at 16% at one point (it felt like 45% in my legs!). But what a view! About 2 miles from the top there was an overlook of Zion National Park which boasts a marvelous canyon. I glanced over my shoulder as I passed, but didn’t stop; Craig had made a big push a couple miles back and I was, unsuccessfully, trying to catch him.
At the top we gathered for some photos (Craig was long gone by this point so we have no photographic documentation on him….what a climber!). Here’s one of me, Chanda, and Tim.
Dave and I strolled about the upper edges of the canyon for 30 minutes or so before continuing onward. Thankfully, our stop was only 30 miles away, and all downhill! We coasted into Panguitch around 1:00 PM. Little did we know that serendipity would have us pass through this town of little more than 1,000 on the biggest night of the year.
Panguitch hosts an annual hot air balloon show and it so happened that it was to take place the very evening we were there. Main St. was shut down and massive balloons were brought in. As the light faded over the western hills the operators unleashed their propane tanks into the balloons, whose lights reflected off the buildings on the street. They were, essentially, gigantic lanterns providing light for the town.