Moab to Keystone, Sand to Snow vacation
5/28/17 - 6/6/17
A holiday weekend followed by a week at our condo in Keystone?! Road trip!! Jean was working all weekend so we would meet her on Tuesday. Miles had hockey on Saturday afternoon so we planned a Sunday morning departure. I wavered back and forth on many ideas but given the below-normal temps and great scenery in Moab, we headed west. With the car packed and Miles up early, we got bagels and left around 7am, this would be Willow’s first road trip with us. Stops for gas, snacks, lunch, and dog walks got us to the north end of Moab around 2pm. I didn’t want to brave the weekend traffic in Moab, so we drove down Willow Springs Road hoping to find camping on the BLM land. Plenty of campers, tents, and ATVs but we didn’t have a problem finding a spot. Temps were in the mid 80’s and it felt hot. The occasional breeze was welcomed to keep the bugs at bay. We set up camp, Willow got covered in sand, and we explored the surrounding bluffs and slick rock. Later we drove just a few miles away to Klondike Bluffs to go dinosaur footprint hunting. A few 4x4 obstacles then we parked and hiked the rest. Soon we came across several of the 3-toed ornithopod prints and large sauropods prints. We followed them for a bit and imagined what the land was like when the dinosaurs roamed the area. Back to the truck and back to camp for grilling burgers and playing around on “dinner rock”, as Miles coined it. Not sure how or when it happened, but Willow was soon nicknamed “poo breath”. We both went to bed around 9pm and a late night bathroom break revealed a sky full of stars.
During the night, Willow managed to sleep on the top half of Miles’ sleeping mat while he curled up on the bottom half. Monday morning I was up early and Willow’s tail was practically knocking the tent over. Miles slept in until 7:30am while I drank coffee and enjoyed the views. Oatmeal for breakfast then we slowly packed up to move camp. First on the list was a drive and hike along Gemini Bridges. There were plenty of well-equipped 4x4 rigs heading up the road and we had some fun bouncing along with the steep drop off to the left. The first mile or so was the roughest, then it was dirt and slick rock roads the rest of the way snaking through the canyon and along the bluffs. We stopped to take pictures along the way then hiked to the Gemini Bridges. These are basically two giant arches that you walk across. Great views and humbling thoughts about getting too close to the edge. We had lunch at the truck then continued on. Once back on pavement we stopped at the Monitor and Merrimac butte view point and had a good cry remembering Denali. In town we stopped for ice, water, bug spray, and wet wipes. We drove along Kane Creek Road and checked out The Ledges campground to make our home for the night. Being Memorial Day, most campers had left and we had the entire B loop to ourselves! We set up the tent in a shady area and explored while trying to keep cool since the temps were getting close to 90. We drove a short way back down the road to Birthing Rock and checked out the petroglyphs. Looks like someone gave birth to a pineapple! We walked down to the start of the Amasa Back trail hoping to see a 4x4 going up or down. Back at camp we sat in the AC for a bit, then retreated to the shade on the side of the truck reading and discussing theories of the world. We also perfected the use of a “WAG Bag” during a “Code Brown”. Hot dogs and beans for dinner then a campfire for Smores and Jiffypop, followed by a dance party. We got to bed relatively early again for a great night’s sleep in the cool desert temps.
Tuesday morning, Willow and I got up early for a same routine while Miles slept until 7:45am this time. The morning light on the surrounding red rocks is always a treat for the eyes and soul. More oatmeal for breakfast and casual packing up of camp while counting the bug bites on Miles head. We hiked up Hunter Canyon to stretch the legs before heading out of town. The high walls gave plenty of shade, the echoes were phenomenal, and Willow even found a stream and some water holes to dive in and out of. Miles and I were hysterical laughing saying “watch that first step, it’s a doozie!” as Willow plunged in and out of the pools. There was a high arch on the canyon rim, and we dubbed other areas “Subway rock” and “tunnel rock” before retracing out steps back to the incredibly dirty truck. Back in town we gassed up and called Jean then hit the road. At Wendy’s in Fruita I managed to drop my wallet in the parking lot, then ate a bad chicken sandwich that had me on the brink of stomach issues for a couple of days. Pulling into Keystone around 4pm we unpacked, took showers, and gave Willow a much-needed bath. We briefed Jean on our camping adventure and did the usual hot tubing and playing games.
Wednesday morning Willow and I jogged up the service roads of Keystone. Given the 3+ feet of snow in May, after breakfast we went skiing at A-Basin! It was mushy Spring conditions but a ton of fun skiing and hanging out on “the beach”. It was such a great day that we repeated the same exact thing on Thursday, except I saw the moose while jogging down Dercum Mtn.
Friday morning Willow and I headed out early for a jaunt up Quandary Peak. There was still plenty of snow but I was okay with just microspikes. Above 13k the breeze picked up and the clouds dropped. It took 1.5hrs up for Willow’s first 14er. She had a ball running, jumping, and diving in the snow on the way down. Just below treeline I somehow missed the giant obvious trail and ended up too far south and near the mine. Some wandering around, backtracking, post-holing in soft snow, climbing over downed trees… and I was on the trail again. Back at the condo Jean went for a hike while Miles and I worked on the puzzle while it rained, and Willow was crashed out. Eventually we walked down to the lake and playground then continued the games and relaxing.
Since Jean was going up Quandary on Saturday, Miles and I went skiing again! Skiing in June?!... Why not! It was quite the festive atmosphere and I could easily do this every day…. Warm temp, skiing, bands, happy people, mountains all around, etc. Paradise! Willow was still pooped and slept most of the day.
Sunday we went to Lake Dillon for Miles to play on the playground and Willow to splash around the lake. We had our traditional lunch at Pug Ryans. Another trip to the hot tub then I packed up and headed home, back to reality. Since it’s summer break and Jean is off work, her and Miles stayed until Tuesday having more fun. The momma and baby moose even came for a visit to the lake right outside our condo!