Thursday, January 13, 2011

Disappointments and Luxuries

It was to be my last day in the Needles, my fourth day and night there.  Again I had something short planned since I wanted to drive out and check into a hotel in Moab.  The time constraint wasn't getting a hotel there (everything's cheap and empty in the winter) but making sure everything I owned had time to dry out: a lot of stuff was very, very wet.  The previous day, after my adventure, I had journeyed part way down an "improved track" to see if my car could handle it and decided it could not.  So that closed off one of only two trails I really had yet to do on that side of Canyonlands which made my choice pretty easy: I was to journey down Big Spring Canyon and loop back to the campground.  It looked nice and I was all the way up to the end the end of the canyon before I hit trouble.  There I discovered I couldn't make the top!  I was quite unhappy, I knew I was no more than 100' from where the trail crested the top of the canyon and dropped back down into a trail I knew I could do.  I tried for close to half an hour to use different techniques to best the slick rock and get on top but could not.  This time it was not dangerous, which was nice.  Any uncontrolled fall I suppose is dangerous, but this one didn't end in a shear cliff, if I fell I was just back on the trail.  Not that I still didn't get an adrenaline rush any time my feet slipped of course.

Not making it proved depressing enough I only took one picture there.

I returned, dejected, the way I came.  Nearing the campground I discovered there was a alternate route back, added maybe half a mile, that would take me over an outcrop of rock and could be quite nice.  I decided this was the make-up for missing the top of the canyon and took it.  There were some great views, but of course there had to be a scary spot on this one too.  They had installed a metal rope to help guide you down part of the slick rock, but the area surrounding it was covered in ice and I discovered the only way I could get down was to simply slide down to the rope and hope I could catch it instead of sliding off the side and down the cliff.  It was only a 30' drop tops but enough to do some damage.  Luckily I caught the rope and went down hand over hand returning safely to my car.  And got some good pictures in exchange for my fear.

I did one more trail on my way out.  A short one that gave a view of the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands (which I would be heading to the next day).  At least it bumped my distance over 10 miles which made me feel better, and it was pretty.  It was also the only trail I'd been on where I saw anyone else.

Afterwards I headed out to Moab.   I picked up a room and spread all of my stuff out: completely filling the floor and chairs with wet camping gear.  Then a shower, a bit of reading and a very satisfying (if lonely, I'm always lonely eating by myself at a sit-down place) dinner at local Italian restaurant.  And my first good night's sleep.  It was nice.

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