Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Day 6 and 7 - Manti to Nebo Loop

Quote of the Day: "There's some kind of voodoo going on here."

Day 6 was the start of Matt's first real adventure. He planned to head over the mountainous, scenic byway called the "Nebo Loop." A highlight would be viewing the Devil's Kitchen Geologic Interest Area, with red rock spires similar to Bryce Canyon.

Matt passed through the very Utah-sounding town of Moroni (more-own-eye), and declared that "Manti [(man-tie)] kicks the crap out of Moroni."

He stopped at the ranger station in Fountain Green to inquire about camping options and other sights along the Nebo Loop. They failed to tell him about the recent closing of campgrounds due to bear activity, but fortunately the campgrounds were back open by the time Matt would reach them. From his telephone dispatch out of Fountain Green, he declared that "Mt. Nebo is in sight!"

Mt Nebo

In other wildlife news, Matt noticed that there were lots of snakes on the side of the road. Looking at them more closely, he saw that they were all missing their heads. Apparently it's a popular, local sport is to go cruising the roads at night in search of snakes, and then beheading them. What were they doing with the heads? Some kind of voodoo?

With his panniers filled up with groceries from the Wal-Mart in Ephraim, he headed into the mountains.

Not far up the road, he met Pat and Larry from Orem, Utah. He spent most of the day with them at their RV. They enjoyed much fun conversation and were generous with the Miller Lites. They even gave him a couple to pack in his saddlebags for the road.

Matt said that the mountains in the area were "awesome" and there were lots of creeks and waterfalls everywhere. He planned to take a rest day while in the mountains.

Day 6 – Manti to Ponderosa Campground on Nebo Scenic Hwy
41.8 miles, 3:10, 13.1 avg

A shorter day than expected. Last night in Manti was interesting. After the swim, went looking for Fred Sports bar, turned out to be Sports Grill, old fashioned burger joint, like so many others in these small towns. Chain fast food places can’t seem to get a foothold in these towns. Bars either! So went to Miller’s burger joint and enjoyed the food, big Mormon family ordering food and the huge wind storm (but no rain).

Back at the RV park I lucked out in that I could just switch off the huge florescent light perched right over my camp spot, and I enjoyed the wind and conversation with a few people who were interested in my trip. About to doze off, a late-comer RV, 3rd wheel proceeded to take 45 minutes of maneuvering into a spot a mere 10ft from my tent! I now had a perfect view of what I guess was their bathroom window.

Said goodbye to my envious bike racer buddy and motored on to Ephraim. Got good info from ranger station for Nebo and shopped at Walmart. Moroni was a letdown, he deserves a better town named after him. Way down hill to turnoff and a short 6 miles to camp right next to shady Salt Creek. Good, cuz it’s hot. Plan to ride slowly uphill tomorrow, sightseeing, possibly camp at Payson Lakes.

Ponderosa camp site before the raccoons, Nebo Loop

Day 7 – Ponderosa to Payson Lakes on Nebo Scenic Hwy
24.2 miles, 2:48, 8.7 avg

What a day! Still on the Nebo Loop, saw some great scenery and spent the day with Larry and Pat!

So, last night was a bit crazy. A microburst came through camp, so I set the tent up in a panic during a light rain. The ranger/host came by to check on me and said a tree had fallen in site 11. It was windy/sprinkly on and off till bedtime, so not very relaxing. Listened to some good country radio music. Oh yeah, the microburst sounded like a train coming down the canyon. Very scary.

So, woke up to find my bags raided and bananas and bagels gone. Raccoons. There goes breakfast! Unfortunately I needed it today more than any other, as the road exploded at a 10% grade for miles on end. (3.5 mph most of the time!) Finally some rest at the first overlook. Skies were very smoky all morning from a fire that no one seemed to know about.

What 3.5 mph looks and feels like

My hosts for a day, Pat and Larry

Went to Devil’s Kitchen and luckily, by the time I made it to the Nebo overlook, skies had cleared enough to actually see the peaks. This is where I met Pat and Larry, the wrinkled smoker and the shirtless tire salesman. We talked about various subjects, notably, le Tour (which started today in London). They let me know I was near the top of the highway and that I had come up the much steeper side. Their camp was nearby and they said I should stop by for some cold water. So I did and ended up spending the next 3 to 4 hours with them, drinking watered down Utah beer and watching snippets from an elk hunting DVD. Larry regaled us with stories about the family history of this campsite, his legendary dirtbike handling skills and, oddly enough, his passion for model trains. We had a great time, and then I realized it was getting late and it was raining lightly. Larry assured me it was all downhill to the lakes. We took some photos and they loaded me up (down?) with cold Buds from their RV that Larry was very proud of. Now at the Lakes I’ll hang my food and maybe have time to actually go down and see the lake.

Devil's Kitchen

At the Kitchen

Nebo from overlook

Nebo Loop summit

Route Map for Day 6 and 7


  1. Matt, I love this blogging that you do from the road. It's so cool how you ride all day then spend your evenings blogging!

  2. Yikes, headless snakes! That's really creepy. Stay safe out there.