Day 7 - Cameron to Flagstaff – Friday, April 22nd
Escape from the sandstorms of Cameron!
We got up early, ate breakfast in the restaurant, and cycled away at 8:10 AM – one of our earliest starts, hoping to put some distance behind us before the winds howled.
In our favor was a weather forecast indicating a less windy day, but we got off early just the same. Fairly quickly we passed the spot where we gave up the day before, and decided our tactical retreat had been a good move.
Profile from highway 64 (just south of Cameron) to Flagstaff
As you can see above, we had a pretty steep climb two miles before the town of Grey Mountain, then less-steep for a good distance, gradually becoming steeper – especially near the summit (just before Sunset Crater). Note that this day would include a 2,800 foot climb.
Escaping the sandstorms of Cameron – note the dust blowing in the wind not that far behind us
We uneventfully completed the first climb, cycling into Grey Mountain, where we rested at a store.
Though almost all of this day we had a significant crosswind, it wasn't that much of a headwind, and sometimes (rarely) it even gave us a little push.
We cycled onward with a gentle climb, which turned steep at times as we climbed up the toe of successive ancient lava flows. Not too much farther down the road, we encountered a lonely outpost of civilization called Hank's Trading Post, where we purchased treats, and lunch, and took a restroom-break.
This place had the distinction of being one of the few full-service gas stations in the country – though we needed no gas.
Hank's Trading Post was a nice place for lunch, and out of the wind.
We cycled on, passing another outpost of civilization, but no store appeared to be open there. After that, the climb got steeper, as we climbed up the shoulders of the San-Francisco Peaks – the Navajo holy mountain.
The San-Francisco Peaks (to the right), and climb ahead of us
The climb did get steeper, and there were sections we had to walk up.
Looking back on the big climb, now up in the Ponderosa pine trees, which reduced the crosswinds
Finally, at the summit, in the late afternoon sun. Hooraay!
We passed the road to Sunset Crater, and finally began our descent into the Flagstaff area.
Beginning our descent into the Flagstaff area
Unfortunately, though it was downhill at first, it leveled out, turning directly to the west southwest, into the teeth of a strong headwind. As a result, it was a long, cold slog before we made it to Flagstaff.
There were suburbs, which we at first mistook for Flagstaff, but had to keep pushing on as it got dark. We had to put our lights on for safety.
Finally, cold and hungry, we entered Flagstaff, but it was a long, cold slog before we at last saw a motel. Given our state of cold and exhaustion, we stayed at the first motel we encountered, the El Pueblo Motel, which turned out to be the cheapest of the trip.
We ate at an interesting diner near the motel, which had a model railroad train that endlessly traveled around the perimeter of the roof of the diner.
Walking back from the diner, I got so cold I started shivering uncontrollably, which didn't go away until maybe 10 minutes in our room with the heater on high.
On this long, exhausting day, we cycled 49.1 miles, climbing 2,800 feet, with an average speed of only 6.2 miles per hour. We were tired, but we had indeed escaped from the sandstorms of Cameron!
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