The Utah PlaygroundPosted on November 16th, 2007 after 13660 miles by Dean Croshere.
It should say something about this portion of the trip that I do not remember taking a picture of a view this spectacular. Based on where it is in line with my other pictures, it is somewhere in New Mexico, between Santa Fe and the Colorado border.
Anyway, I woke up in the middle of the Utah desert at sunrise. I was the only one in my campsite and, even if there was someone at the other campsite, it is pretty safe to assume I was alone out there.
There were two Canyonlands overlooks, one further from the main road, and one closer. I decided to continue my belief that the further one must be the better one. I headed off in that direction.
Meanwhile I struggled to try to send a text message. I had one bar, enough to receive messages, even emails, but not enough to send them. The night before I had accidentally started a phone call, but it got disconnected before she picked up. This is when I was driving down a bumpy dark road with deer everywhere. I didn’t worry about it and just figured I’d talk to them later.
The person I called did worry. She tried to text me. Twice. It was fairly apparent that she was worried about me, and I can certainly see why. I figured I would let her know I was all right as soon as I got a signal. After all, she handled all right until now, and it was still dawn here, an hour earlier back in Oregon.
The road I was driving on now turned from bumpy gravel to a slightly muddy dirt clay mixture. Remember, it had rained in the night.
There was a couple of times where I accelerated to keep momentum up a hill so as to get stuck. Eventually I decided it wasn’t worth it. I had no way of contacting anyone, as I still didn’t have signal, and I was probably 20 (if someone was camping at the other site) to 50 (If no one was) miles from someone else.
I turned around.
It’s just as well: the closer viewpoint was amazing. I love this picture. At first glance it looks like a bunch of little piles of dirt shot from eye level. Then it comes to realization that dirt doesn’t do that on the small scale. Those spires at the end have to be around 20-30 feet tall. That dirt path in the upper right is a road.
Its not like there are these little bluffs and then a lot of desert, no, there are a lot of bluffs continuing on out through the desert. The Colorado river is out there somewhere.
A nice couple showed up while I was having breakfast (another MRE, this one was “meatloaf and onion gravy”). They mentioned that they had just come from Arches National Park. I told them that was where I was headed next, so they gave me some pointers and tips on the park. They then mentioned that they were planning on heading to the other viewpoint, I advised them against it.
This comparing of notes became commonplace real quick. The southwest is like one giant amusement park where everyone compares notes on the cool rides and how to avoid the lines.
I love of the fog disappears into the distance during a sunrise.
It layers the mountains and really shows off the depth in these mountains. It also helps that they seem to mimic each other, so they almost appear to be shadows receding into the background. The two pointy ones to the right are called the two six shooters, because they look like, well, you know. When lightning strikes them, this apparently magnifies the effect.
On the way out, I snapped a picture of what I think is another side of the San Francisco Mountains. I could be way off, and likely am, but I do know that the rain overnight had brought snow to the peaks. The snow was almost entirely gone by that evening.
Once I got back on the freeway I headed back up to Moab, this time passing through to head up to Arches.
It was still pretty early once I’d picked out and reserved my camping spot, so I decided to take the longest hike in the park. It was supposedly 7 miles or so round trip, with scrambling involved.
The first portion of the hike is pretty much inundated with tourists. They seem to be walking almost toe to toe in order to see this arch.
I wasn’t terribly impressed and the sun was not helping me out for this picture. I pushed on.
Not much further down the road is another nice arch. There was no space to get a proper picture, but the sun was cooperative.
As I hiked down the trail, it split off into various side trails leading to various arches. I chose these side trails at random and ended up arriving at one at the same time as a middle-aged couple.
“Oh, let me get out of your shot,” I said, more as a way of telling them to get out of my shot than anything else.
“Don’t worry,” he said, “I’m not taking any pictures. We’re going to be here a while, we’re having lunch.”
“And wine,” his wife chimed in.
“But we’ll get out of your way.”
I was thankful that they got the hint and snapped my shots.
“You must have planned this,” I prompted them. People don’t usually bring wine out on day hikes.
“Oh yeah, we come out here twice a year, spring and fall, and stay for a few days at a bed and breakfast in Moab. Been doing it for five years now, we’ve gotten to be good friends with the people there.”
“Yeah, and every time there is something else to see. Like this. We’ve never been to this arch before, so here we are, having wine and cheese.”
She offered me a string cheese. She seemed to have plenty, so I took it and offered my thanks. I never bring anything to eat on these hikes. It’s probably bad idea.
After a while, the conversation mellowed out and I moved on, thanking them for the cheese and wishing them well.
The hike wound through the devil’s garden, making sure to offer views of all of the available arches.
At the furthest point from the park, I found I had nearly full cell service. I opted to call my friend who had been worried about me the night before.
She had been to Arches before and knew right where I was. During the conversation, I started on my hike again. The call ended itself without warning. I guess this was to be expected, the tower I was using was probably some distance away.
I had my 2 liter camelback water container on my back the whole time. The biggest problem I have with it is that I start to drink out of it unconsciously whenever the hike gets a little boring. This means I go through it faster than I should and I always run out of water. Remember that I also didn’t bring any food.
It was now about 1 or 2 in the afternoon and I hadn’t eaten since that MRE I had for breakfast. I was out of water and getting thirsty and I was in the middle of the desert.
Of course, I make this sound all more dangerous and risky than it really was. It was only a 7 mile hike.
I got back to my campsite and made myself a tuna fish sandwich, ate it, a can of soup, and a can of peaches.
I figured I could either go see delicate arch at sunset, supposedly the best time to see it, or I could take a nap.
I took a nap.
After I woke, I built another fire that took me two tries. The first time I guessed wrong as to what kind of kindling I should use. I couldn’t even get the smallest sustained flame. On my second try, the grasses ignited my alternate kindling (another type of bush) perfectly.
I spent the rest of the evening writing by the fire.