Finally, the 10-ton bike starts to roll a bit more easily as I pull it through the sand and gravel of Cedar Canyon Road. That's my cue to try getting back on to see if I can ride again. There's still plenty of sand and gravel on the road, but there's just enough less that I can ride again.
I pull over to avoid the dust cloud that the oncoming camper will produce; the road looks like it's heading down into a pit with no exit!
I'm still in a canyon here and the scenery is great. A lot of this area burned last summer in lightning-started brush fires, and it's interesting to look at fire-damaged yuccas and joshua tress along the way. Wild verbenas are found all over this area between the burned vegetation and are showing off their pale-lavender blooms. The fire damage isn't ugly as I thought it might be, probably because the landscape is so stark to begin with.
There have only been a few motor vehicles on Cedar Canyon Road since I started my climb. A park vehicle comes up from behind and starts to pass me. I wave, expecting him to continue onward, but instead the ranger pulls up next to me and stops.
I finally make it up out of that wash on Cedar Canyon Road—but the day's work isn't done yet!
I'm pedalling at about 3 miles per hour, which is nearly stopped as far as he's concerned! I wonder if he thinks I'm insane to be riding a bicycle solo out here.
We chat for a bit. I let him know that I'm on way to Mid Hills campground for the night, hopefully, and that I've done this ride before. I'm tired, sweaty, and charged up from all the exertion that the last few miles have demanded and I hope that I sound coherent at this moment!
I tell him that I'm carrying enough water (heavy as it is) to last into tomorrow should I decide not to ride all the way to Mid Hills campground for some reason. He tells me that I should fill up my water bottles when I reach Mid Hills, just in case, because they've been having occasional problems with the water pump up there lately. I'm thankful for that information.
This park is huge, so one tends to meet a ranger here only during chance encounters like this. This park has no check-in nor reservation system like many other national parks.
Ah, this lovely sign tells me that my trudging through the sand on Cedar Canyon Road has been completed
We finish up, the ranger pulls away, and I continue my plodding along the slippery road. Half a mile later, an oncoming pick-up truck stops and the driver asks if I'm OK or if I need anything because he'll be returning this way in a while. Another brief chat ensues and I'm impressed to see that people out here tend to look out for each other.
I reach my next turn-off, which is Black Canyon Road—elevation approximately 5000 feet. It too is an uphill, gravelly, sandy road. I will have almost three miles on this road to climb. I have to walk most of the first quarter-mile due to sand, but I was expecting this, remembering it from previous trips here.
I so clearly remember riding along here one night six years ago for a couple of hours in complete darkness with no moon, after the battery for my headlight burned out. After a while, I was able to feel, and respond to, the gravel, sand and washboard of the road without actually being able to see it!