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The last mile or two before Providence Mountains State Recreation Area gets steeper The final five-mile stretch of Essex Road to Mitchell Caverns (Providence Mountains State Recreation Area)ThumbnailsThe final five-mile stretch of Essex Road to Mitchell Caverns (Providence Mountains State Recreation Area)ThumbnailsThe final five-mile stretch of Essex Road to Mitchell Caverns (Providence Mountains State Recreation Area)ThumbnailsThe final five-mile stretch of Essex Road to Mitchell Caverns (Providence Mountains State Recreation Area)ThumbnailsThe final five-mile stretch of Essex Road to Mitchell Caverns (Providence Mountains State Recreation Area)Thumbnails

I'm in the shadow of the mountains now. The road steepens. and pedaling gets slower and slower. The last mile really gets me. I'm just keeping up 3.5 miles per hour.

I finally arrive, check in at the Park office, and buy a box of wood for a campfire later on, a luxury I wasn't expecting.

It's almost dark when I get around to setting up the tent. High winds up here make setting up the tent a real challenge and it takes me almost half an hour. It normally takes me just a few minutes to assemble.

I tightly hold on to my freestanding tent (or is it a kite?) while I amass a collection of large rocks to put inside the tent on the north-facing side.

All small, lightweight objects get packed back into my saddlebags, just in case the tent rips open and things start blowing away.

After my campfire, trying to fall sleep inside the forever flapping tent proves to be the next challenge. I haven't camped in such high winds before and am hoping my inexpensive little Peak1 Aries tent will survive (and me with it).

Preoccupied with the wind, I forget to notice that it's a rather chilly evening, but I'm getting used to that by now.

Fortunately, desert weather can change rapidly. The high winds calm down significantly by midnight and I eventually fall asleep without too much difficulty after all. My tent has survived!