Darkness set in just a few miles before we reached Lake Powell. We closed in our targeted camping spot for the night after riding 70-odd miles on rough and rocky 4×4 roads. Through nine hours of heat and sun exposure, and a few falls on technical climbs and challenging descents, I thought, “What’s the worst a few downhill miles could be?” and continued pedaling the home stretch to the lake. Oh, was I wrong. It could be worse.
Our group donned headlamps as we began the gradual descent into a tight sandstone canyon. Soon enough, the floor turned to deep sand—forcing us to hike our bikes more than we could peal, muttering unpleasantries between heavy breaths. Mentally exhausted, we eventually made it to the pin marked on my Garmin, which ostensibly had potable water nearby. That’s when things got hairy.