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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Day 31 Moab, UT (Leg: 0, Trip: 2,238)

Today Carol and I celebrated our 31st anniversary! She has been a real blessing to me all these years and I can easily say I wouldn't be here without her! Thanks for putting up with me!

We went to Dead Horse Point State Park and Canyonlands National Park today. They are about 40 miles or so from the RV park.

Merrimac and Monitor

Before we even got to the parks, there was a view point to see the Merrimac and the Monitor, two rock formations that without too much imagination really look like their namesakes. They look just like they are facing off for battle except that they have probably been this way for 10,000 years give or take a couple.

When we got to the visitor center at Dead Horse Point, we first looked at the exhibits. The park is named because there was a herd of wild mustangs that lived in this area and some not too bright cowboys decided to catch themselves a few. They herded the horses out onto a point and quickly build a fence out of brush and boards to block them in. Then they chose the best few to be trained and forgot to let the rest go so the entire herd perished for lack of water as they could see the Colorado River 2000 feet below but no way to get there.

Chimney Rock

From the visitor center, we took a short quarter-mile path to some scenic vistas including Chimney Rock. There are several formations like this one further in the distance. After we came to the end of this path, we saw a sign for Point Path and decided to walk that one. It was a long hard path with unsure footing over rocks and gravel. We didn't bring our walking sticks but sure could have used them.

Small caves created by freezing water in the rocks

Along this path there were views like the one above where caves have been created right into the side of the sandstone. I believe these are created by stress cracks in the weaker part of the rock from freezing water. Over time the cracks break off parts of the rock and they tumble down.

A deeper cave created in the rock

The path turned out to be over a mile each way! We were really tired when we got back to the visitors center as the entire hike was over 6000 feet up. And there was a lot of climbing on this primitive path.
The Bend in the Colorado River

Once you get out to the point, you have an excellent view of the bend in the Colorado River. You can see how it has carved the canyon over time. We had a picnic lunch at Dead Horse Point and then left for Canyonlands NP.

This park is divided into three areas by the Colorado and Green Rivers which join up in the park. The main area is called Island in the Sky and is the most accessible. Then there is "Needles" which is named after the needle-like rock formations. Needles has its own visitor center over 75 miles away. The third area is called the Maze because there are many small canyons leading you all around like a maze. In the early days, many of the outlaws and their gangs used to hide out in the maze because nobody had ever mapped the area and it was hard to track them into the area while the threat of ambush was ever present.

Once we got into Canyonlands one of the first stops we made was to hike to Mesa Arch, a distance of about a half a mile. This time we took our walking sticks and they really came in handy as there was a lot of climbing and descending to get to the arch area.

Mesa Arch

What you don't realize when looking at the arch is that you can't really walk through it! If you do, you will drop down about 2,500 feet as the edge of the canyon wall is under the arch!

View through Mesa Arch over the edge

We went along to numerous other viewpoints in the park and at one of them, Carol found her own arch. So now it is named in her honor as "Carol's Arch."

Carol's Arch

At another viewpoint, this rock formation reminded me of Half Dome in Yosemite NP, still my favorite NP in the system.

Doesn't this remind you of Half Dome in Yosemite?

From this viewpoint, you can see the canyons that have been cut by waters from flash floods as they drain into the Colorado River. Most of these canyons are totally dry in the bottom until one of their summer rainstorms hits. That's when the flash floods happen. They actually only get about 10 inches of rain a year here, so when it all comes in a few summer storms, you get some idea of the power of the water that can carve these canyons.

Canyons carved by flash floods

Most of the vegetation that you see in this terrain is either low grasses and weeds or small trees and brush, few over 6-7 feet high. However, there is this one region we saw where tall trees are growing right up against the canyon wall. These trees are over 50 feet tall and are the only ones we saw like that all day.

Where did these tall trees come from???

It was sprinkling on and off all afternoon and late in the day, a strong breeze was blowing up from the canyons below. The temperature was only 48 degrees and the sky was overcast all day which is why some of the pictures we took didn't really come out too well. You can see Carol below taking pictures and being all bundled up against the cold.

Carol taking pictures in the wind, rain, and cold

Both on the way into and out of the parks, there are signs warning you of open range for cattle. They mean it. Three times we stopped to let cattle cross. You pull up to them and they just look at you and sometimes moo then they just saunter across the road and go about their business. I would not want to hit one of these doing the speed limit of 55!

Free Range means exactly what it says!

The weather looks good tomorrow and Friday, so I will try to play golf here tomorrow and we will spend Friday in Arches NP.

1 comment:

John Bardin said...

I was a week or so behind and finally caught up with you guys. I am sorry there wasn't pictures, or better yet video of Dave running around the four states. The pictures and descriptions have been fantastic and I thank you for tour. Happy anniversary and belated Happy birthday to Carol.


John Bardin

P.S. The Raiders cut J. Russell, so there is hope for the silver and black.