Saturday, September 27, 2014

Canyonland 3 .... Lathrop Trail


Seem like there are three kinds of Vistas in the NP's .  Overlooks that you don't have to do anything more than roll your window down ..... Short ez trails of a few hundred yards , and up to a half mile .... And trails the make you work for it . And the quality of the view is completely independent of the amount of work required . ( There are also many trails that are designed to offer glimpses of individual micro systems )

I was looking for 2 to 3 hours with a good hero shot . The Lathrop Trail is a back breaker that is an overnighter …. taking you all the way down to the White Rim Road . Its recognized as a great multi day hike . So I knew I wouldn't run in to any body . But what makes it special , is that if you just do the first 3 miles it takes you out to a vista that is unparalleled . (You gotta read the fine print sometimes in the hiking books )

white rim
white rim road

The first mile is through awesome prairie …. Grays Pasture . Some of the local favorites include  Mormon Tea ( medicinal navajo plant ) , Winterfat ( fuel for the bighorns but makes your steak taste like kaka )  , Snakeweed ( buffalo food ) … not to mention the incredible high desert wildflowers .

The next mile is slickrock ( mountain bike heaven …. think petrified sand dunes ) and the final mile is a black.  brush - clad ( I have no clue what it was )  mesa that leads you to the portion of the trail down to the White Rim Road and the Colorado River  !!  What a view !  I never even knew what slick rock was before this trip , and truthfully , I was just a tad intimidated the first few times I encountered it on a trail ( it looks too steep to handle sometimes ) 
Lathrop trail through Grays Pasture

things are starting to change

coming to the edge .....

somebody left sunglasses on the cairn

trail out

canyonland II .... Murphy was the man

dead soldiers on the side of the trail

Here are some pictures from the Murphy Point Trail . An easy, mostly flat,  3.5 mile hike with an incredible view of the Green River and its associated basin .

no real trail ....

but plenty of cairns

Green River with some White Rim

 Its hard to capture the magnitude of all this in a photo ... especially from a phone . But this part of the country has a way of defining the beauty our planet has to offer that is hard to miss

in the land of canyons ..... got water ?

Canyonlands is far removed from civilization, and to get to any one of its three districts requires you to travel far from primary highways . As a result the Park receives much less use than Utahs other parks.

Canyonlands NP is divided into 3 separate and unique districts . Needles , the Maze , and Island in the Sky . So you really get three parks for the price of one ….. Four if you include the rivers . Island in the Sky is an enormous , lofty, wedge shaped mesa that juts south into Canyonlands  basins towards the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers . There are major views around almost every corner, with turnouts offering far ranging panoramas of literally hundreds of square miles of canyons, drop dead cliffs , desert basins, mesas and isolated buttes …. not to mention some serious mountain ranges for background !

My first hike was the Neck Spring Trail . The Neck is a narrow ( duh ) isthmus from which there are some incredible views . The trail is a 6 mile run in and out of some neat little canyons , washes, seeps, and into the alcoves that form at the heads of the canyons ( grammar ? ) . There are backdrop-views that put the Canyonland system into perspective and even a glimpse into the long-gone days when the springs provided life for ancestral Puebloans  …. and more recently sheep and cattle herders . ( The desert is full of life ! )

About a mile in,  I met a couple coming the other way who had lost the trail and were headed back . The hubby was definitely tired and the wife was a little spooked . I assured her they were only 20 minutes away ( ok maybe 30 ) and sent them on their way with a happy face . She made a point to tell me I didn't have enough water . I tried not to smirk,  but did, politely, defend myself . …. wait … it gets better.

one of at least 3 alcoves I came to at the head of the canyons

the trip consisted of dropping into canyons , hiking up to the alcove at the head of the canyon, crossing over ... and hiking out the other side !!!

water stop

Looking down at the last canyon .... after scrambling up the slickrock in the center left potion of picture

petrified sand , aka slick rock .... Navajo Sandstone

Looking out towards the Colorado

After about another mile of  fun dips, climbs, twists and turns, ( I had picked up the pace a bit ) I started to see 3 hikers ahead of me whenever there was an open stretch . I was only gaining slowly so I figured "lets get this over with" and started running the flats and ez downs . After 5 or 10 minutes I caught up and intros were exchanged . Randy and Tracy had just moved to Colorado from Miami and their best friend Val was giving them tour of Arches and Canyonland . We talked about the couple who had turned around and how I supposedly didn't have enough water ( they all had packs ) . Turns out Val is a trail runner . We laughed it up and decided there was plenty of water at the end ! Val and I ran a bit and waited for the kids to catch up . They were breaking for lunch so before my half bottle of water ran dry I wanted to get going up . They stopped at the shady base of a big slickrock climb-out, and I moved on . AT THE END , with less than a half mile to go,  2 runners , kids , and I mean running down some scary rocky downs , passed me, about a minute apart …. WITH NO WATER BOTTLES  ! I saw them in the parking lot drinking up and speaking french . Crazy .

scenic 128

My first 2 days I stayed in a small campground along the Colorado River outside Moab . There is an extensive paved run/bike trail that connects Moab with Arches and the long road into Canyonlands .... with a spur that ran up the Colorado to my campground along scenic highway 128 . Made for a fun "hard run"

Sunday, September 21, 2014

just visiting .... Navajo National Monument

after leaving Glen Canyon NRA  I headed towards Navajo National Monument

One of the many interesting things about Navajo National Monument … It is about the place . Not about the people . Not directly anyway . The original settler / builders of the incomparable ruins that are here,  where not Navajo . They were ancestral Puebloans of whom much is still being learned .  (and its smack dab in the middle of the Navajo Homeland) . The name the Navajos used, originally, was Anasazi . Not a term of endearment ….  basically ' my ancient enemy'  . Today there is movement towards a history where  Meso American culture spread north from Teotihuacan ( the great Mexican city ) thousands of years ago . Chaco Canyon , Mesa Verde , Hohokam and the ruins at Navajo National Monument are from a people a people that brought amazing technical and agricultural skills to the high desert .

 The vibe is here . Its the cleanest , most poignantly clear monument on my trip . And its free . The park didn't ask for my Pass . They don't charge for their remarkably beautiful campground . And they have a great guided tour I am really looking forward to.

The trip to Betatakin , one of the three ruins at Navajo NM,  was with a Navajo guide . Their is a gate you go through half way down , that for religious reasons , can only be done with guide . The Hopi believe that one of their clans built Betatakin and request it to be kept sacred . Anyway . The Navajo honor the traditions ( among them no food ! ) and have this thought to offer for todays world . We are all just visitors .

Bucci update

looking down into the canyon where Betatakin is