The blue skies and fluffy clouds of yesterday had been replaced with strong winds, frigid temperatures, grey skies, and pockets of snow and rain here and there. A great day to tackle a 9,000 foot mountain pass.
Our short-term destination right now is Park City, Utah and we’ve chosen highways 72 and 10 to take us north into Central Utah. After finding our turn, the road started winding up a valley into the mountains and the rain began. Higher still, the rain turned to a light snow that increased in intensity and began piling up on our jackets. The visibility dropped and passing cars became rarer and rarer – this section was very reminiscent of the rainy and snowy days in the Canadian mountains six years ago.
After a couple hours of climbing we reached the pass at 8,975 feet. Unlike yesterday, reaching the pass was not a relaxing affair – given the weather we didn’t want to stick around too long. We quickly added layers and got to the descending, squinting to try and see the road through the heavy wind and snow. Just like two days ago, frozen hands quickly became the limiting factor as we took frequent breaks at the numerous scenic overlooks to warm our hands. The quality of these viewpoints I cannot comment on as we had maybe 200 feet of visibility. I fashioned a wind and snow shield for my hands out of a stuff sack and we proceeded downwards.
The snow turned to rain and after a long while finally began lightening up. It was now after 3 in the afternoon and we hadn’t eaten so we stopped for a quick snack break. Just like in Arizona, we have a knack for picking routes that don’t see towns very often – the route today went 70 miles between any sort of cafe, store, or gas station – we had nowhere to take refuge from the weather.
Eventually the road went under I-70 and headed out of the mountains into rural land. Coal mining seems to be the dominant industry here as evidenced by the large quantity of spilled coal on the highway shoulder. Our tailwind from the morning had left us before the mountain pass and never returned and we pushed onwards in search of a place to stay for the night.
I got a flat tire and replaced the tube just in time for the rain to start up again, this time turning to hail as we approached the town of Ferron. There’s a single motel/food option in town that closes at 7 and we are lucky to have arrived before they closed lest we’d need to push on to the next town. The dinner options consist of fried chicken tenders, fried mozzarella sticks, fried jalapeno poppers, and a hot pocket. We buy every last item available and take them back to our room to enjoy our healthy dinner.
Notes from Donald: “We encountered most forms of precipitation today – snow, rain, hail, and probably some sleet. The snow climbing to the 9,000 foot pass was beautiful but made for a very frigid downhill.”
Today’s mileage: 80 miles
Total: 1047 miles