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.



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