USA 2015 – Part 5 : Utah – Canyonlands and Arches

After dropping off my Grand Canyon hitchhiker just south of the entrance of Canyonlands and not getting murdered, I had to slam on the brakes to stop from hitting a group of roadrunners as they sped across the road. They’re as fast as the cartoon, but not as big. I somehow lucked into the last campground spot in the park though.

A quick hike 5 mile hike before dinner was ruined by the rain setting in, but I was able to see the snow on top of the La Sal mountains in the distance and got a sneak peak in the background at why they called it the “needles district”.

All through the night I could hear the rain and I was a little concerned as I had planned on doing slot canyons all day, which are known for their flash flooding as well as making guys cut off their own arms. In the end, I decided to just wander the better marked trails and head to druid arch.

There was a lot of water running through the little canyons and lots of green plants popping up everywhere, a pleasant surprise in what I thought was a rocky, barren, desert landscape. There were also a lot of small canyons and scrambles, starting straight from the campground, which just made me the happiest hiker in the world.

But everytime I looked up I was just filled with awe. It finally made sense why it was called the Needles district. Everywhere I looked there were just the strangest rock formations sticking right up in the sky.

Hours after I saw the last human, and after scrambling up a small waterfall, finding a ladder embedded into a rockface and clinging on to tiny handholds as my feet slid over the slick rock, I found it… Druid arch. And I built my own wizard staff in celebration.

I only saw about 5 people all day, got lost in a few canyons, but I was in heaven. I didn’t think I could fall in love with Utah anymore than I already was, but I did.

Next on the list was Arches national park. I’d been there once before, but as my poor social media users discovered (the park had good coverage due to being right next to Moab) there was a tonne of natural rock arches in the park. And I tried to document every single one I saw before I lost count.

The unseasonal rain the week before made the usual path inaccessible in parts along the Primitive Trail, but this just meant I got to do a lot of slick rock scrambles around the road blocks.

After the 10 or so big arches I saw on the way, I had my scenic beer at the highest point in the national park: Dark Angel.

After a burger and a beer (and a souvenir growler of red beer to go) at Moab brewery, I spent an uneasy night checking the weather conditions on I70 East into the Rocky Mountains. Heavy snowfalls were expected and my van had neither the tyres nor the chains to cross the mountains to Denver. Numerous google searches and text messages had alternative routes planned via New Mexico so I could make it to Kenny’s wedding in time. Luckily the weather lifted at about 4 am, so I made a coffee in the cold, packed up the van and headed straight out of town for part 6 (via my favourite 24 hour breakfast burrito in Moab).

There’s a gallery of a few more selected images below, otherwise if you like any of these pictures you can buy a print, canvas (or more!) in my webstore: https://society6.com/moshpitson. If the photo you want isn’t in there, let me know!

 

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