Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Utah: Part III

We left Canyonlands early Thursday and arrived in Arches National Park around noon, where our first stop was of course the park's namesake: Delicate Arch.



We ate lunch at Delicate Arch, but we had to cower because the wind was absolutely howling.



After lunch we backpacked out into the Devil's Garden for a quick hike by at least seven arches including:

The nearly 300 yard long Landscape Arch!



Navaho Arch



Another arch I can't remember...



And a nice view of fins, the long skinny rock pieces which eventually erode into future arches.



We ended up at Double Arch where we asked a nice fellow hiker for a picture... I certainly hope his hiking skills are better than his photography skills...



After a quick hike out to the Black Angel (below) we continued south to Secret Arch where I briefly conquered my fear of heights for a photography.




A nice shot of my fellow hiker.




We got to camp about sunset, had a brief dinner, and then retreated into the tent for our last chilly, windy night in Utah! The next morning we woke up and hiked into the famous Fiery Furnaces for a two-hour self-guided tour. The area is famous as a nearly impenetrable maze, and after a little time wandering in the wilderness, we found the ranger tour trail and hiked back out.





Since we had a little extra time, we ended with a brief tour of even more arches, and my famous picture...



After leaving Arches we went in to Moab for a much-needed (and awesome) shower. Sadly the good news ended there- we learned that our train back from Salt Lake City had been cancelled because of the ungodly amount of snow in the Sierras. Instead we had to book flights for that night. Surprisingly, the sad part wasn't the cost of the tickets; we were just sad not to have a nice relaxing 22 hour train ride from Salt Lake City across the Great Basin, over the Sierras, and then down to San Francisco. All in all, we had a pretty awesome (BUT WINDY) trip. Canyonlands was definitely by favorite- Capitol Reef was a close second, but Arches was a much too car-centric park for my tastes. Thanks Utah!

Stay tuned: Yosemite, Coachella, Big Sur, and the Lost Coast to follow!

Utah: Part II

Oops. Another hiatus- things certainly do stay busy...

As I left off Jenny and I were driving from Capitol Reef National Park to the Needles District in Canyonlands National Park across massive Lake Powell and then through beautiful (ahem) Blanding, UT. We arrived in Canyonlands in the mid-afternoon, and we were fortunately able to grab a campsite in the car camping campground in Canyonlands. From here we decided to stay in the camp and then do long day hikes during the day because of the cold and windy weather. That afternoon we did my favorite hike of the trip, a 24-mile loop out to the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers and then back. Definitely some of the best vistas on the whole trip...



We got our first view of the landscape on the hike out to the Confluence, and then we made it to the Confluence Overlook, 1300 feet above the two rivers, where the river that defines the West is born. Notice the very different sediment loads between the Green River (left) and the silty Colorado River (right). On a side note, this is also where my new favorite explorer, John Wesley Powell, ascended the bluffs to view the birth of the mighty Colorado.



After the Confluence we looped south through the Canyon of the Giants. It certainly was aptly named because we did feel very Lilliputian...



After reaching the south end of the Canyon we climbed up and over a ridge and then headed back north in another canyon on the hardest 4x4 drive road in Utah and then back to our camp for the night. Whew- 24 miles in 7 hours!

Wednesday we woke up early for a huge loop through the southern portion of the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. The day consisted of hiking through narrow canyons and then up ladders and stairs over ridges into neighboring canyons, all while hiking around the area's namesake, the Needles. Highlights include the massive, secluded, double-arch, Druid Arch, climbing ladders up and over canyons, and looking down into canyons...





And of course, the Needles themselves...




After a late arrival back at camp, we used some spare pallets lying around for a fire, went to bed early, then woke up and headed to Arches...