Stunning Capitol Reef

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Today’s recap: Capitol Reef National Park. If you’ve never been, you’re missing out.

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Sunday October 23rd we ended up camping outside of Loa, Utah,empty-handed as it were, since the only grocery store in town was closed. Actually, everything in that town appeared to be closed. Was it a Mormon thing?

At least our little campsite sat in a field of sage. I love that smell.

Anyway, we hit the Loa grocery store around the crack of noon on Monday the 24th. It’s hard getting up early these days – sunrise is something like 7:45, so we’re usually not out of the tent and making coffee until after 8 (sometimes 8:30). I know that sounds lazy, and it probably is, but I don’t need coffee so bad as to stand out in the cold and dark just to make it. I can wait for the sun.

The Loa grocery had most of the things we wanted, and the prices weren’t too bad. The town itself had a 4G connection so while Michael looked for dog food at the local Ace Hardware, I sat in the truck and put up a blog post. Go team!

Onward then, to Capitol Reef, which feels like a tiny National Park. They don’t even have an entrance station. We got the beta on good hikes and things to see from their visitor’s center, and decided to check out the pictographs and hike to Bickman Natural Bridge that day, then come back and hike Cohab Canyon the next day. Cohab was only about 3 miles round trip, but the guy at the visitor’s center mentioned that there were a couple of adjacent slot canyons that could be explored from this trail. And you know how hooked I am on slot canyons right now…

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The pictographs were cool, and the natural bridge was a fun little hike. With daylight fading, we found a place to camp in an established, dispersed site just outside the park boundary. There was only one other vehicle there (a Sportsmobile, of course – will I ever stop being jealous of those?) so we had our choice of fire rings to set up next to.

 

Too bad we never got to use that nice fire ring. The weather forecast we saw did say rain (as in, a 100% chance of rain) but the clouds didn’t really get ominous until close to sunset. We watched that squall line approach and just couldn’t get everything put away in time. This was a classic Utah storm. Gusty winds that made it rain sideways forced us to retreat into the tent at 7pm. I am happy to report that our rooftop tent came through the ordeal just fine. That thing sure is noisy in high winds, though. Remember how we couldn’t get everything put away in time? That meant our dinner that night consisted of Lara bars, a bag of corn chips, and a handful of lunchmeat. Painful to admit, but what can you do? Even chefs eat ghetto sometimes.

Tuesday morning was bright and sunny though, and we took the morning to charge up all the solar items.

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Plus, we pulled everything out of the tent and let it dry. How did it get wet? Elvis sleeps in the tent with us, remember? And we retreated into the tent after the rain had started. The inside of the tent was a red dirt mess.

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I didn’t take a picture of all of our wet stuff, for obvious reasons, so enjoy this pic of Michael’s rain jacket.

Everything dries quickly here in the desert, but we still got a pretty late start on the day. After arriving back into the land of Capitol Reef we did a little driving – checking out Grand Wash:
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and the Scenic Drive:

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It really is called the Scenic Drive. They didn’t put a lot of creativity into the names here…

We started the Cohab Canyon trail around 4pm. The light was perfect and it was a gorgeous hike. A couple of the slot canyons were so shallow as to not really be worth it, but the last one… we had to scramble for handholds and footholds to get to the end. It was amazing and fun and gave a sweet vantage point for this picture.

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We camped back at that same site outside the Park, although not at the exact same spot. This time the place was empty so Michael gathered all the firewood he could scavenge from the other fire rings. It didn’t rain and it wasn’t too windy so we had a nice fire, although it took a little extra care to get that fire going. Still, a lovely end to the day.

I’m really smitten with Capitol Reef and would love to spend more time here.

Hanksville and Little Wild Horse Canyon

Saturday October 22nd we got up, made breakfast, and headed right back in to Natural Bridges. We had a plan! I was going to run the 3-mile trail from Sipapu Bridge to Kachina Bridge. Michael’s plan was to put the 40-lb sandbag into his ruck, hike down to Sipapu Bridge, do a CrossFit-style sandbag workout (3RFT: 10 pushup/squat clean/thruster complex, 10 sandbag shoulder lunges, 10 side-to-side sandbag drags), and then load that sandbag back into his ruck and hike back out.

Have I mentioned that sometimes I think he’s crazy?

The run was fabulous, and the only lousy part was this family that I passed on the way down to Sipapu Bridge. It was during that portion of the trail that is super-steep ( it descends 500 feet in just over ½ mile). There were maybe 6 of them,  think. And it’s not like I had to ask them if I could pass. They either heard or saw me coming up behind them and stepped off the trail for me. I thanked each of them.

That I thanked them is important to note (for me, anyway) because the leader of this little clan was an old dinosaur who would not stop giving me a hard time. Asking me what my hurry was, what’s the rush, etc. He must have been saving the zinger for when I reached him: “what, is there a sale at the bottom?”

“That’s harsh, man,” is all I said. It was the most polite thing I could think of.

“Well, what are you doing?” he demanded.

“I’m running over to the next bridge,” I said as I hurried away. He relayed that to the rest of his group in a loud voice. As if it mattered.

Michael told me later that the old fart grilled him about my “rude behavior” as well. I guess he’d never heard of trail running? And somehow my thanking each member of his party for letting me pass was considered rude.

Whatever. Like I said, the trail was fabulous and I had a great run. And I managed to finish just 5 minutes after Michael arrived at the Kachina Bridge parking lot to pick me up.

Moving on, we headed west on Hwy 95 (which actually goes south, and then north, but hey, the highway signs themselves say westbound) for the scenic drive to Hanksville.

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I spared you the sight of his Speedo. You’re welcome.

 

OK, not all of it was scenic. What the heck this guy was actually doing as a scenic pullout I have no idea. I guess he really wanted to work on his tan?

 

 

 

For the most part, then, the drive was incredibly scenic. Hanksville was not. Did I mention we expected to restock in there? Well, shit. Hanksville consists of 3 gas stations and a “market” that was completely devoid of fresh vegetables. We even drove around a bit, trying to figure out if the actual main drag was off the highway or something. Nope. This place was desolate. We decided we had enough food to get us through a couple more days and headed out towards Goblin Valley.

Finding a campsite was easy – and ours even had a stack of firewood next to a well-used fire ring. It was a lovely evening. No wind, not too cold, lots of stars. Sometimes I wonder what I will do when I can’t see the Milky Way every single night.

I was so excited to get to Little Wild Horse Canyon on Sunday the 23rd that I could barely contain myself. We stopped by Goblin Valley State Park for information (I didn’t even know how long the hike was, we went on a recommendation from my friend Kevin Slick). But we were able to check the weather and get all the pertinent info. Goblin Valley is a black hole for cell reception.

I’d never hiked a slot canyon before, and now I’m afraid this experience has gone and spoiled me. So. Much. Fun! Scrambling and crawling over (sometimes under) rocks, twisty passages, route finding… this place had it all.

The hike starts out through a wide, sandy wash. Then things start to get narrower…

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And narrower…

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Sometimes we had to get creative to move forward.

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At one point, we actually ended up in front of a pool. I couldn’t tell how deep it was, or if there was a way up on the other side. It looked like a dead end and we decided we must have missed a turnoff somewhere, and started backtracking until we found it. It was pretty obvious, don’t you think?

We ran into a couple of other hikers later on who said that the pool wasn’t that deep and that yes, there was a way to climb out on the other side.

 

Anyway, the trail wasn’t all super narrow. There were several sections that opened up wide:

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We saw the mud do some pretty strange stuff.

 

 

 

 

 

We wanted to spend another night in Goblin Valley. But the forecast we saw… was for rain. Now, the camping areas are well away from any slot canyons. But the roads out there are all deep sand, or red clay, and either way that stuff that becomes impassible when wet, even for 4WDs. If we’d had a full pantry I think we would have been willing to hang out. But the larder was bare. Not the first time we’ve had to change plans due to weather, but it still sucks.

We pinned our hopes on Loa, Utah, and headed out. Along the way we passed some crazy scenery. Utah is a strange state. After all the red of Goblin Valley, passing by Factory Buttes was a shock.

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It was like a volcano spewed ash all over the landscape. Things turned red again as we passed through Capitol Reef National Monument, and we looked forward to Loa. It was a bigger town than Hanksville. Maybe it even had a Wal-Mart?

HA! Loa did not have a Wal-Mart. Although they did have a grocery store. Which was closed because it was Sunday.

Ah, Utah. You’re driving me crazy right now.

Canyonlands, Take II

We spent 4 wonderful days at Indian Creek, and 2 days at Canyonlands. And finally, after almost 20 years, I was able to hike the Joint Trail. This little gem is only about a mile long, and you have to hike 5 miles just to get to it. But it’s a long slot that’s barely wide enough to walk down, with big some jumbo steps over boulders and a log with steps hacked into it at one point. It’s amazing. It’s everything I remembered. And it was totally worth it.

In order to accomplish this feat (11 miles in 4 hours), I left the camera in the car. And I wore my running shoes. This trail has a lot of steeps and scrambly sections, so I knew I wouldn’t run everything, but those flat mesas and the flat washes? I ran those. Michael even paced me, bless his heart. Those long legs of his could have passed me a dozen times over, but he never did.

So I don’t have any pictures of this one. But I attempted this trail with Michael once before (view the blog post here) so you can see the awesomeness.

The next day we were both completely beat. As in, we didn’t want to do… anything. So after a leisurely breakfast we headed back into the Park. I’ve been to the Needles District several times but never driven past the Elephant Hill trailhead. So this time we took the road all the way to the end.

It was a little disappointing.

Not that the scenery wasn’t fantastic. It just wasn’t the same as Elephant Hill. But we did go for a drive on the only 4WD trail that doesn’t require a permit: the Colorado Overlook Trail. It was super fun and Michael had a blast. Wish I could say the same for Bailey. He travels in that crate now, and between that and the cone I think he was getting pretty beat up. So we didn’t go to the end of the trail, but returned early and had lunch in the parking lot of the Visitor’s Center.

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By Friday we kinda had to get moving on. Water and other supplies were running low. This time we headed south to Blanding. The Blanding Visitor Center is exceptionally awesome. They have free WiFi and free water! So I was able to send a few emails, check my Facebook status, and then fill up all the water containers.

Our original plan was to head south on Hwy 276 and follow it to Hall’s Crossing, taking the ferry across Lake Powell. It sounded like a cool way to see that corner of the state. And since I’m a cheapskate (and we’re on a budget), I used that wonderful free WiFi to look up the cost of the ferry.

Imagine our disappointment – the ferry is CLOSED until November 25th! What a bummer. It also meant we had to do a quick re-route sitting there in the parking lot.

After filling Taco Negro’s tank at the strangest combination I’ve seen in a while, a gas/station/A&W/bowling alley, we went to the grocery store, Clark’s Market. The last time we passed though this area, we stopped at the grocery in Monticello instead, and for some reason I distinctly remember saying we should have gone to the Blanding grocery.

Either my memory ain’t what it used to be, or Michael and I were smoking crack that day.

It’s not that the Clark’s Market was terrible. It had a lot of the stuff we’d normally buy. But the bag of mini sweet peppers – the one that’s normally $4, even in Moab – was priced at EIGHT FREAKING DOLLARS. I was not about to pay EIGHT FREAKING DOLLARS for a handful of freaking peppers, no matter how much I like them. We’re on a budget, you know.

So we did the best we could. Unfortunately, the veg was the most expensive area of the store so Michael might have to get creative. Hopefully we’ll have better luck on Sunday in Hanksville. (Not holding my breath, though).

Onward then, to Natural Bridges National Monument. It’s about 30 miles or so west of Blanding, kinda in the middle of nowhere. There were NO crowds here, although that might be because we arrived at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

There are three main bridges in the park, and we saw all of them.

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Siapau Bridge
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Kachina Bridge
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Owachomo Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We even hiked down to one, Sipapu Bridge. The trail is .6 miles each way, with an elevation change of 500 feet. There were ladders

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and stairs and handrails and (at one point) a sign that said Watch Your Step.

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If it had been a lot longer it would have been my kind of trail. In case you’re wondering the difference between an arch and a natural bridge: “Natural bridges are formed by the erosive action of moving water. Arches are formed by other erosional forces, mostly frost action and seeping moisture.” That’s from the little pamphlet you get when you enter the park. Neato!

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Sipapu Bridge from near the bottom

We camped on a BLM road that I don’t remember the name of, one that turned out to be pretty popular as we saw half a dozen occupied sites before finding a wide open one maybe 2 miles in. Nice and flat, too!

Our current plan is to head towards Hanksville on Saturday and hit Goblin Valley State Park on Sunday the 23rd. We want to hike the slot canyon (Little Wild Horse Canyon) and the weather forecast on Monday is a chance for rain.

One last note: I mentioned that Elvis has been sleeping up in the tent with us, kind of grumbling about it. Well, I have to say that Elvis just seems happier now. To put that in more quantifiable terms, he is more affectionate and more obedient. Crazy.

Finally!

After nearly a month in Moab, we finally made a successful exit on Monday the 17th. Crazy! Sunday the 16th was our last night at our wonderful Lone Mesa Road campsite. It was also the night of the Hunter’s Supermoon… which would have been awesome except for those 50mph wind gusts.

Yeah. They get some crazy winds in the desert. All day long it had been windy (20mph with gusts up to 35), but after dark somebody turned the dial up to 11.

We stayed outside long enough to watch the moon come up. Once verifying that yes, indeed, it was a full moon, and not particularly super, we climbed up into the tent to watch the second half of Super Troopers.

There are lots of things I love about our rooftop tent. Sleeping through a windstorm is not one of them. The rainfly flaps constantly, and the gusts made me wonder if the whole thing were about to lift right off the truck. So it’s safe to say I didn’t sleep well.

Monday morning we packed up the tent inbetween wind gusts (it had at least dropped back to 20mph by then), then scavenged firewood from all the other nearby campsites. Score!

At some point in the morning, we realized that Bailey had popped another staple on his wound, leaving just one staple, which was not holding things closed very well. Back to the vet. At this point we were on a first name basis with the staff there. Bailey got 2 more staples plus a round of antibiotics. We were given an antibiotic cleanser, along with some sterile wipes, in case Bailey managed to pop the staples again and we weren’t near a vet. The cut would granulate in on its own, the vet said, we just had to keep it clean.

At this point we were quite interested in Bailey keeping those damn staples in place for the next 10 days. Sure, we would continue to keep him on a leash at all times, not let him run around or roll in the dirt. The big challenge would be separating the dogs in the back of the truck.

The solution was one more blow to the budget: a crate. We found one at the Moab Barkery, and it was amazingly enough the right size, even with Bailey wearing the cone of shame. So now we get to drag a crate around with us until Christmas (there is no way I am tossing that crate after Bailey’s staples come out.) Yay.

On the plus side, Bailey is already crate trained and he seems to like it in there. He would often hang out in his crate when we had a house.

After showers, laundry, and one last grocery run, we left Moab at 5:15. At least we knew how long it would take to get to Indian Creek. We set up camp right as the sun ducked behind the cliffs.

Most amazingly, the wind died off to zero. Nill. Nada. Yes! We had a lovely campfire and watched the stars. Then the moon, once it finally came up.

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Another plus: my GI issues have finally gone away! That only took 6 days. I’m kind of jealous of Michael and his iron constitution… that guy can eat anything.

Onwards to Canyonlands!

Nope. We’re still in Moab.

We tried to quit you, Moab.

And damn, was it hard. Did I mention that the sushi place in town (yes, there is a sushi place in the middle of the desert, and it’s not bad) had a sign in their window – hiring for a kitchen chef and a dishwasher?

When we saw that sign, we knew we had to leave before we walked in and applied.

The original plan was to leave on the 10th. We got ready by hiking out to Corona Arch on the 9th.

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The view from the arch wasn’t too shabby, either:

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That just seemed to whet our appetite for arches, though, so on the 10th we went to Arches National Park one last time, to hike the Devil’s Garden. And what a hike! 7 miles of sandstone fins, arches, and fun.

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By the time we were done, we knew we’d never get showers, food/water/gas, dog food, plus a meal, plus the drive to Canyonlands before dark. The drive itself is around 2 hours.

We headed in to town, wondering what cheap eats we could find since the Thai place didn’t open until 5pm and it was all of 3:15. We were going to check out one of the only food trucks in Moab, the Quesadilla Mobilla, so we went around the block to find a parking spot. And there, off the main drag, we saw it: Arches Thai. Open 11am-9pm.

We were so there.

Maybe they have lunch specials? But we were on the dinner menu, about $15/plate. But it was delicious. Thai food is the best.

We were actually able to score “our” campsite again, the one off Lone Mesa Road. As soon as we got the tent up it started to rain. That eased off around 8:30, and afterward we spent a good half hour watching the lightning show as it moved northeast.

On the morning of the 11th we packed up, looking over our fabulous campsite for the last time. We headed in to the park next to the Rec Center and did a CrossFit Workout: ½ Cindy. This is a 10 minute AMRAP of 5 pullups, 10 pushups, and 15 air squats. Sounds easy, right? Try it sometime. It’s brutal. I got through 6 rounds plus 4 pullups, and that was with scaling the moves to jumping pullups and knee pushups. I was gassed afterwards.

My reward? A Palisade peach. And a trip to Poison Spider Bikes for a shower.

We did eat one last meal in Moab, at Milt’s Stop N Eat. The staff there practically knew our names – after all, we’d eaten there 4 times in just shy of 3 weeks. Who knows when I’ll eat another hamburger and fries – when will I need to? It’s hard to top Milt’s. I even bought a t-shirt. Now I cam be a hipster, advertising for an obscure joint in a small town.

We didn’t get the site we hoped for outside of Canyonlands, our site is a little further away but sweet nonetheless. There are even cows.

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The morning of the 12th I woke up not feeling so great. Gastrointestinal distress, let’s say. But I didn’t have too much time to dwell on it. Elvis chose the ripe hour of 7am to barf. He gave us enough fair warning, though, making that horking sound that even woke Michael up. I’ve never seen the man move so fast. We shoved the pillows out of the way (of course Elvis was going to puke by our heads) and then opened up the screen on that side of the tent. Michael held Elvis by the collar and let him puke out the side… and all down the side of the truck.

The next challenge came when I let Bailey out of the back of the truck. I noticed a spot on his hindquarters that seemed to have been licked a lot, so I called him over for a closer look. He had a hole in his skin. About the size of a nickel, and I could see muscle through it.

So all plans for the day were scrapped. We had a cold breakfast (which turned out to be a good thing for me, as I was feeling worse as the day progressed), left a few things at our campsite to mark it as ours, and headed back to Moab. We know there are 2 vet clinics there. The drive took 90 minutes and the vet was able to see Bailey right away. They also had a very nice bathroom, which I used a few times.

Our bill was just shy of $200, which I have to say I found shockingly low. Maybe I’m just used to Boulder County prices? But we set out south again.

90 minutes later, we stopped at the fairly gross pit toilet at the turnoff towards our campsite. I used the bathroom, and Michael discovered that Bailey’s stitches has popped. Or he chewed them off, who knows? We hung our heads. Then we went back to our campsite, packed everything up, and headed back to Moab.

90 minutes later, the vet said they had a few appointments and could we come back in 45 minutes? We said OK and went to this taco joint called Gilberto’s. I had 2 fish tacos (first thing I’d had to eat since breakfast) and about 30 minutes later was pretty damn sorry. And very happy the vet’s office had that nice bathroom.

Long story slightly shorter – Bailey now has 3 staples in his leg. And a cone of shame, which he does not like. We camped last night back out on Lone Mesa Road.

Which brings us to today, Thursday the 13th. Today I feel worse. Michael, lucky bastard that he is, rode Big Mesa while I stayed pretty close to our bucket toilet. I don’t know what I have, but I sure hope it passes quickly. This sucks.

I’ll keep you all posted…

Time to move on…

At the end of our ride on Thursday, Michael turned to me and said, “So, was that epic enough for you?”

We left from our camp that morning and rode this route at Navajo Rocks: Big Mesa -> Rambler -> Rocky Tops -> Middle Earth -> Big Mesa. A lollipop loop of almost 16 miles.

That ride was, in fact, epic enough for me. I was very glad that camp was waiting for us at the end.

I don’t think I’ve put up any pictures of our Lone Mesa campsite. Behold:

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This was after our epic ride, so those are our riding clothes hanging off the doors. The view to the east is even better.

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That view of Big Mesa is why we keep coming back to this site. The sunsets here are incredible. (I’ll let you know about the sunrises if I ever see one. Generally I don’t get up until the sun hits the tent, and that’s been around 7:30am.)

Other adventures this week:

On one of our recent forays to the City Market, we found the coffee selection pretty picked over. Michael found a bag, but it was whole beans. So he opened it and dumped the contents into the coffee grinder they have there. He set the dial to “drip,” but when I went to make coffee the next morning, I found grounds so coarse that they’d have to steep for extra time in a French press.

Luckily, I had an ace up my sleeve. I used to belong to the Longmont Writer’s Group – they meet every Sunday at Ziggi’s Coffee on Francis. At some point, four of us started our own critique group and got to be friends. Right before Michael and I began our trip, my friend and critique member Marc Sobel gave me a couple of gifts. And one of them was a coffee grinder.

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This bad boy had been sitting in the container we call the Kitchen, waiting patiently for us to need it. And I’m happy to day it worked like a champ! I was delighted to not have to break out the Starbucks Via. Thanks, Marc!

We took the day after our epic ride as a rest day and went for a drive, up into the La Sals. We even found a side road for a little off-roading. Taco Negro is a high-clearance, 4WD vehicle. We don’t have locking differentials and we’re not looking to take it out on anything gnarly, but Michael does enjoy his time on the jeep trails. So when we passed an anonymous-looking two-track, he turned around for a closer look.

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Like I said, we’re not taking the truck where you’d take a rock crawler, or anything. Just some easy off-road stuff. And Taco Negro is pretty capable.

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We ended our drive at Arches NP again. Michael’s favorite spot is the Windows area, so we went for a late afternoon hike over to Double Arch.

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Yep, that’s one good-looking man.

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And the whole, “time to move on” thing? We’re heading out from Moab on Monday the 10th. For real. Of course, we’re just heading down to the Needles District of Canyonlands…

 

Adventures of the senior dog

Sometimes I wonder if Elvis actually is going senile… or if he’s really just super smart.

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Most nights now, Elvis the senior dog sleeps up in the tent with us. Michael carries him up and down the ladder. This is, in fact, the opposite of what we want. How did it begin? Well, his first panic attack happened way back near Jackson Hole. That was when I crawled into the topper slept back there. We thought it was a one-off, or at best occasional, occurrence.

Now, almost every night we have the same ritual: Michael puts Elvis in the back of the truck. (Bailey is already in there, asleep.) Then Michael comes up to the tent and we both try to be as quiet as we can. It’s like putting a toddler to bed! But after about five minutes, the whining and barking begins. It’s Elvis, not Bailey. We try to wait it out, but the longest we lasted was 40 minutes. Michael brings Elvis up to the tent and everyone finally goes to sleep.

Senility? Or smarts? Personally, I think that since we replaced the carpet with the rubber matting, Elvis just doesn’t like it back there. And he’s trained us to let him sleep up in the tent.

Either way, having Elvis up in the tent does make the late night bathroom run a little more challenging. First, Elvis sleeps like the dead. Second, he sleeps at the door of the tent. So it takes some gentle shoving to get him up and moved. And as soon as I’m gone, he takes up residence on my pillow.

The next challenge happens when I reclaim my space. Last night, Elvis chose to stay directly between me and Michael. Which was cute, except for…

pant pant pant pant pant pant pant pant pant pant pant pant pant pant pant pant pant pant 

Right in my ear. After about a minute of that, I snapped my fingers, said his name, and pointed at the foot of the tent. Elvis got up like the obedient dog he used to be and moved. As he flopped down at my feet I thought to myself, Ahh… now it will be nice and qui-

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*sigh*

In actual good news, we discovered that we can get to the Navajo Rocks trails directly from our campsite out on Lone Mesa road. Sweet! I think the Big Mesa trail might be my favorite trail in Moab. It goes directly under Big Mesa, over some slickrock, and I can ride almost all of it.

Our original plan was to be in Moab through the 10th, because some friends of ours were coming out on the 8th and 9th. But they had to cancel, so now we face the dilemma of what to do now? I mean, if we don’t leave here soon, we might just become permanent residents. I could always get a job at City Market. Seriously. They are severely understaffed right now (and have the signs out to apologize for it), and the help they do have is occasionally less than stellar. On Sunday, the surly cashier handed me my receipt with a blunt “well, there’s that.”

But there are so many other things in Utah to see, like Zion and Bryce Canyon, and Lake Powell. And, as my friend Kevin pointed out, Goblin Valley. After showing Michael some pictures from Little Wildhorse Canyon, he wants to go hike a slot canyon too.

So we’ll probably head out of Moab around Monday the 10th. Just an FYI for you, Michael has a new challenge: the GoRuck Challenge. There are multiple events, but the one he signed up for is in San Luis Obispo on December 2nd. I’ll keep you all posted on his training…

More of Moab

I want to start this post off with something like a gear review.

Waaay back in Missoula (a month ago!) we picked up some funky sunscreen at the Farmer’s Market. I’ve been using this stuff ever since, and I think it deserves a shout-out.

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The company is called DAYSPA Body Basics. I’m generally skeptical of the “all-natural” label – as Michael is fond of saying, “you know, my poop is all natural,” and I’ve never seen sunscreen powder before – but after reading talking with the DAYSPA guy, I figured I’d give this a shot. The powder formula is great for oily skin (like mine), and is actually meant for sweaty activities like running and biking.

Here are the ingredients: Active ingredient: 20% zinc oxide. Other ingredients: Organic tapioca powder, organic arrowroot, and organic lavender powder.

That’s it.

Like I said, I’ve been using this since Missoula, and I’ve still got a ton of it left. I haven’t burned. I don’t think I’ve gotten more freckles, but then, I don’t spend a lot of time staring into a mirror these days. Anyway, I love this stuff! It doesn’t get cakey, and it applies easily. My only caveat is to make sure you rub it in well around your nose/upper lip. Or you might look like a very active cokehead… (hehe!)

Moving on: Canyonlands. Our first day there, I think we spent about 30 minutes inside the park. Michael really wanted to drive the White Rim trail, but the rules are pretty explicit: no dogs. Not even in your vehicle. Well, the initial part of the White Rim trail is also part of the Shafer Trail, and there’s no rule about dogs there, so we checked it out.

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I wish I had a better picture of the switchbacks we descended, but I was a little busy trying not to freak out. Michael is totally comfortable with trails like this – in fact, he wants to do more – but I did not grow up with Jeeps or Jeep trails or any of this stuff. It’s scary for me.

This picture is as close as I can show you, and I don’t think it conveys the true pucker factor of those switchbacks:

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Anyway, when we got to the bottom of the switchbacks, the trail flattened out for a bit.

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And then we saw this sign:

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I had no idea Potash Road connected these two areas. We’ve taken the paved part from town before, to hike a trail called Corona Arch. Michael was pretty excited to check out a new road, so off we went.

What a fun drive! Not really a Jeep trail or anything – I don’t think Michael even had to put the truck into 4WD. But he looked like he was having a blast.

As we got lower down, and closer to Moab, I saw something that looked like a big, blue lake, but divided out into sections. And each section was ringed with white.

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Eventually we saw a sign: Moab Salt, LLC. Once we had an internet connection, I looked them up. Now known as Intrepid Potash, Inc, they are the largest producer of potassium chloride in the US, according to Wikipedia. (Potassium chloride is also called Potash.) Originally an underground mine, the company changed tactics after an explosion trapped 25 miners underground sometime in the 1960’s. The new method, still used today, is to pump river water into the ground, which dissolves the potash. The mixture is then pumped into evaporation ponds, and the potash is collected as it dries out.

In case you’re wondering, potash is used in fertilizer. I’m not sure if this is cool knowledge or not, but I like to learn new stuff, so I’ll file it under cool.

When we completed our loop, we actually headed back up Highway 313 (which was where we started), because we wanted to camp in a new area: Lone Mesa.

There are lots of dispersed campsites out here (and at Horsethief, just a little further down the road), and it was a Tuesday, so we weren’t expecting any issues with finding a good site. And we found one, not too far off the road. Paragliders sailed overhead as we made dinner.

Wednesday the 28th turned out to be a big day. I shouldn’t be surprised; most of our days in Moab tend to be epic, even when we’re not trying.

We started out riding at Navajo Rocks. I did a really good job of keeping up with Michael on this ride, and we finished in about 2 hours. I had a blast and felt really strong.

Too bad this ride absolutely destroyed me. I was exhausted the rest of the day! We headed back to Canyonlands, which is only about a half hour’s drive away. It was my day to drive, which was good, I suppose. If I were the passenger I might have slept through all those fabulous views.

After several viewing areas, though, I was kinda done. We pulled into this area called Upheaval Dome. It’s a picnic area and trailhead. I was going to just head back out, but I got stuck behind a rental RV that couldn’t decide which way to go on a one-way street, so I pulled into the nearest picnic spot because it had shade. I was just going to sprawl out on the metal picnic table. Michael had a better idea: he set up the hammock.

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Man oh man, was that a good nap. And afterward I was ready to see more sights. Good thing, because there were lots. Of. Amazing. Sights.

 

 

 

 

Every time we got out of the car, something awesome awaited us. Like at the Green River Overlook:

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We hiked a trail that followed along the cliff line. The views were outstanding in every direction.

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With the late afternoon light, and the clouds, I found myself taking so many pictures! Editing these was tough, let me tell you. I hope I’ve done Canyonlands some justice.