Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Moab Day 4 Dead Horse Point State Park

I"m trying to mix up our days with aiming to different directions that present us with different landscape types.  There was an original itinerary which we are altering a bit, saving a bigger day for the forecasted cooler day, but those cooler days are just not happening.  Dead Horse Point State Park will give us everything but elevation gain.  That is what bothers me most when it is 90 degrees F.  I have been adjusting my food and liquid intake to find that winning combination and I am getting closer.  

For this hike I knew we would be up the whole time, I completed it back in the day. We started up and ended up, the whole while in between we were eyeing across and down.  The trail is cairned the whole way but you don't necessarily look down for the next cairn.
Along the beginning wall at Dead Horse Point, I spotted an opening at ground level that looked too perfect to not be purposeful.  I held my camera down at ground level and did a point and shoot not knowing what the outcome would be, well this is what I got.
                             The Colorado River meanders through the canyon.  
It was another day of pretty clouds, lots of vibrant greenery and those beautiful ugly trees.
At every overlook, we stopped to give it the time deserved.  Those were good times to snack and to refreshen our cool neck ties.  Speaking of necks, the neck leading to each overlook was pretty on its own, and I wondered what was at the end of each.  I realized it was long enough ago that I did this hike, it was like new again.
                                        my destination shot at Shaffer Overlook
                                   feeling like we could fly at Shaffer Overlook
We hiked all overlooks with the last one being the longest at Bighorn Overlook. We made this our dining overlook and this was my view.  Those are the LaSal Mountains left of the Utah Juniper. This was peaceful and private and pretty.
                                      A few of the pot holes contained water.
We made our way back to the main trail which would bring us back to the Visitor Center and the completion of our star shaped hike.
With this hik now completed, it was time to get on with the balance of our day. We have been so fortunate to have such beautiful days and seeing such gorgeous scenery, I am very thankful for this.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Moab Day 3 Druid Arch in The Needles of Canyonlands

Today's early start south on the highway towards The Needles district of Canyonlands Natiional Park afforded us a magnificent view of once again, a land like no other.  The sunrise added pretty colour to the sky and the monuments.  We were early enough that we arrived to the Visitor Center to witness the  raising of the flag just before the Center opened.  I captured a couple of photos before walking through the front door.
                                                  the setting moon
After purchasing our park pass, we made our way to the Elephant Hill trail head to begin the hike.  I was still feeling off from the heat from yesterday and was waffling on what I would be able to accomplish today.  After a few breaks,  pacing a bit slower, I began to feel human again and at the junction made the decision we would stick to the original plan of going all the way to Druid Arch.

The scenery and trail variations were outstanding right from the get-go.  We had it all, the red slick rock, the blue sky, the scattered cloud designs, canyons, washes, boulders, needles, mushrooms, a ladder, stair cases.  
                                  it was ever changing from red to gold to red to gold
                   Before dropping down into Elephant Canyon, we could see forever.
I was curious as we made our way through the slot canyon, what would we see at the other end.
The needles were well defined and looked spectacular against that blue sky.  It was tough going at times along the canyon floor where there were lengthy sections of sand.  I looked for flat rocks and compacted sand to walk on to save my legs and my energy.  
                                  There was one area that was full of boulders.
From beginning to end, there were cairns to guide us.  They were in unusual places at times and that made the cairn finding that much more fun.  Along the wash, there were many shady sections so I took numerous breaks in those spots as we went about our day.
As the kilometres were passing, the terrain changed and the anticipation climbed. It felt like we were approaching our destination, yet then we had to climb and climb some more.  Nearing the end of the canyon, it opened up.  After ascending the ladder and then a little more scrambling and route finding....
                .....there it was!  Druid Arch!  It was boldly beautiful and magnifently majestic.  
There would be no standing under this arch, so this was the ideal location to secure my destination shot.  After that business was taken are off, we settle in shade to dine.  I did not have much of an appetite, so only savoured some of my sandwich, grapes, apple slices and a portion of my power bar, oh and some sesame snacks.  They were my saving grace today, settling my stomach and they were my salt supply.
There was another saving grace in my day.  I call her  "A Reason"!  She was a soloist trail runner who arrived at The Arch shortly after us and left shortly before us.  As we were nearing the steel bar across the slick rock slope just above the ladder, I became anxious about crossing and descending.  Then "A Reason" reappeared, she went a bit beyond the turn off point then came back to this sketchy section arriving at the same time as us.  She was my saving grace in guiding me through this section.  I let out a sight of relief once I was back at the bottom.

Then it was back to the wash and the canyon following along for many kilometres until we came back up and out the other side to those wide open vistas.  It was smooth sailing from here.
                           a grand vista with the LaSal Mountains in the far off distance
This was another huge day and I just wanted it over with and to sit on something soft without boots and socks on.  Once that was accomplished, I felt human again and could smile again, and relive what a fabulous day we just experienced and it truly was an adventure to remember.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Moab Day 2 Arches

I visited Arches National Park in May of 2011, and I remember my self talk included a conversation about already  knowing I wanted to go back one day.  I didn't know when that day would be nor what that day would look like.  Today I can now say, that when and what is crystal clear.  I was excited to return because I remembered beauty was a guarantee but I was even more excited for my two friends who only had a very tiny idea of what they were in for.  We left our home away from home 40 minutes before our designated time, that shows you our level of excitement.  We had a plan of attack in place and that was to hit Devil's Garden first, then some short strolls to sights and top it off with a hike to Delicate Arch.

                                          trail head for Devil's Garden 
 I had a hard time picking out photos to show off to you, my followers. We spent much time early on snapping this and that, and those, and over there, and that, and this.  The lighting was top notch and the scenery was even more than just top notch.                                          
                                                        Pine Tree Arch
                                                  Landscape Arch
                                           view along the way
By now my friends discovered their comfort zone hiking on the slick rock.  We purposely looked for fins and things to climb up on.  Here we are on our first fin.  It was mid morning and we commented it was hot already.  Little did we know in comparison to what was to come, this was not hot though.
I loved the colour contrasts and even more so loved the cloud formations. I could not believe how foliage in the desert could be so green.  Do I dare admit that I spent equal amounts of time admiring the clouds and arches!
We made our way to Double O Arch, see the little O below the big O. This time around, I made my way up and over the base to the back side of the O's.  It was fun to scramble on the slick rock to get to this spot for lunch.  We needed shade and this spot fit the bill.
                                       At the end of the trail stool Dark Angel. 
After our visit to Dark Angel, we found the detour to follow along The Primitive Trail.  There were sketchy spots to get through and our route finding skills were tested.  We passed with flying colours.  I missed Private Arch on my 2011 visit, so was happy to add that one to list. It was a fun place to play a little.
Private Arch was the last Arch to visit in The Devil's Garden.  Now it was just a matter of covering a couple more kilometres in blistering heat to get back to our vehicle and on to our next destination.  This hike took much longer than we anticipated due to the heat and picture taking and playing and admiring.  We came to a consensus to alter our plan and skip the short strolls and go for just The Delicate Arch hike.

                                       just before rounding the corner to Delcate Arch    
Our timing arriving here was impeccable, there were maybe five others. We each took our turn securing our shot with The Arch.  It was the most beautiful sight to see and I am glad we made it here today, who knows how long this one will be standing.  You can see me in the bottom right. Just as we finished capturing our photos, hoards of folks started arriving, swarming the base of the Arch.  
We stayed only a few minutes longer then began our trek back.  It was the hottest I have ever experienced hiking.  I did not feel well, I had that heat rash on my legs and I just wanted this over with and get back into the car and get back where I could download my photos and relive our day all over again right away. What a beautiful day!  Thank you for that!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Moab Day 1 The Arrival

My friend stated words similar to these "I'm looking forward to writing our unwritten Moab Adventure". I could not agree more with that sentiment.  As so we begin!  My, finally after what seemed like waiting forever, day started at 3:00am in Calgary.  It was go time.  We met at the airport, smoothed out a few wrinkles, and finally landed in Grand Junction, Colorado.  For me, now it seemed real and this adventure was going to happen.  My first true view when my feet were firmly planted on terra, offered up so many of my favourite things.  Just before sliding in behind the wheel at Grand Junction airport, I captured my first shot.
We had a list of must-do's to place check marks by before going to our home.  We drove the scenic by-way, picked up our arches visitor pass, dropped a few dollars at the Arches visitor center and the Moab information center, picked up our groceries then excitedly walked through our front door.
                                                       our dining area where we had our first dinner
                                                                   my bedroom
                       We spent a little time on our patio admiring the views.  The rim surrounds us.
Our patio holds a fire pit, a bar-b-que, a hot tub, all with a pleasing privacy barrier around it.   I enjoyed a beer by the fire and just let all cares and worries go, then opening up to share a wonderful experience with my two friends.
                                                    the sun begins to settle below the rim.....
.......and we join our neighbours to witness the total eclipse of the moon.  I have never experienced such a sight from such an amazing vantage spot.  The moon rose above the rim, and the eclipse began.
As the eclipse happened, the blood moon began to show his true colours.  We three sat side by side admiring this event, all the while the sky is filling up with stars, with an added touch is a shooting star here and there.
I could barely keep my eyes open as the night went on.  At a split second in time, we each utter we had enough and needed to say good night to this day.  We went our separate ways as we entered back through our front door.  Today offered that teasing taste of a wonderful adventure to come.  I am excited to write tomorrow's unwritten story.