October is the perfect time of year for hanging out in Utah around Moab
and the Canyonlands, so I couldn't turn down an opportunity to head out there
with some good friends. Bob, Keith, and I drove out Thursday night after work
getting to Moab just after midnight where Beth, Pam, and Rich had a hotel and
were mtn biking all week. Despite the reports of snow near Vail, it was
beautiful the entire way and no problems. It was unusually cold and rainy in
Moab though, probably my first time seeing rain out there! The following morning
we headed towards the Needle District of the Canyonlands after a phatty
breakfast. We found a nice and big campsite in Squaw Flats and cracked some
beers open while setting up. A bit later we hiked the 9 mile Lost Canyon Loop.
It was really cool with the red rock formations, canyons, and slickrock. Not
long into the hike it started to drizzle and turned into a cold rain. Hiking up
some of the small canyons we could see the start of a stream flowing towards us.
I had thoughts of a flash flood rippin' down the canyon and sweeping us away!
But no such luck. We
ran into a couple that said they were in the next canyon over where there was a
blizzard and the had to slide down a waterfall to get back to the trail. Uh,
yeah right. The sun came out again and left some awesome views of the light
shimmering in the water on the rocks. Back at camp it was time to indulge in bbq
brisket, plenty of beers, and Jager bombs. Before long we were dancing around
the camp fire to Hypnotic Clambake!
Saturday was the day for a big hike around the Needles. After plenty of
breakfast, bacon, and seeing Pam, Rich, and Mary off we got a sub-Alpine start
at the parking lot of Elephant Hill. I hadn't been in this area for about 6
years and forgot how cool looking everything is. Makes me think of what Mars or
the moon would look like. The weather was quite different then the day before,
not a cloud in the sky and nice and warm. Across the slickrock following just
cairns and gazing in awe at the huge amphitheaters of giant stone walls all
around. We took a long way to Devils Kitchen then headed south again towards
Chesler Park. Soon enough we were in "The Joint" which is a bunch of
caverns and tight squeezes through straight up walls with just barely any
sunlight coming through from above. To explore one area we had to leave our
backpacks at the start to squeeze though. Awesome stuff! Next we were off
towards Druid Arch. The trail up there is awesome with some short friction
moves. It's all well worth it once you're at the enormous Druid Arch that towers
over you! From here it was about 5.5miles back to the truck through some dry
stream beds and along only a couple miles of trails we started out on. It was
great to see the Bob's truck after 18miles knowing that steaks and beer were
closeby! Back at camp we attacked the beer cooler and had a couple pre-dinner
Jager bombs. The $1 grill grates from Walmart melted in no time at all, soon
enough the steak were dropped in the sand for some added flavoring, then we were
laughing so hard it was tough to wash them off!
Sunday was a bit cloudy and chilly again so we skipped a short hike to an arch
and proceeded to come as close as possible to running out of gas on the way back
to Moab! The ride back was mostly in drizzle and some snow showers. Yet another
fantastic trip to Utah!
Rich on the "crux ladder move" with Pam nervously watching; Awesome
After the rain on wet slickrock; cool sunlight on the wet rocks
Who's this tourist in my picture?; Sunset on the nearby bluffs
Beth at the start of an 18 mile day; Keith in "The Joint"