Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sallying Forth

To begin this trip at the beginning (which is the only sensible place to start) I left home with the idea of spending one week exploring Canyonlands and, possibly, Arches.  I knew where I wanted to stay the first night (the campground in the Needles District in Canyonlands) and the hike I wanted to do the first day I arrived (a loop around the trails there, about 26 miles in total with a lot of good views).  After that I was just going to see how it went.

I left Tuesday morning and begin driving (most of the trip occurred on I-70).  After some dangerous driving around Vail I made it into Utah and when I finally couldn't stand so much un-photographed beauty I stopped and took some picture from the side of the road.  Normally not my style but the snow certainly added to the the effect.

I made it down past Moab and entered into Canyonlands (a rather slow, curvy, and icy drive).  I stopped part way in to take pictures and to see Newspaper Rock.  Apparently nothing is known about the drawings here other than a rough time frame, but it's quite a collection of them

I arrived in the campground at around 4:30 and set up camp.  Well set-up my tent anyways, it wasn't really conducive conditions to set-up anything else.  I had known that it had snowed some time shortly before the new year and that it was supposed to be cold.  However, with the small amount of moisture that area is supposed to get I thought it would be basically clear of snow (and ice) when I arrived.  That I was wrong proved to be a rather important feature of my trip for good and ill.  At the campsite itself there was probably about 3" on the ground which wasn't that bad.  I set up the tent, put down an army blanket on the floor and covered my sleeping bag with another blanket.

I walked around before sunset (and a little after) to see the area and for something to do.  Every night I stayed in that campground there was always at least one other group, but normally that was it (one night there were two groups).  It was quite beautiful there, even if it was cold.  When I was trudging around I stopped for a moment and heard complete silence.  It was something I'm not accustomed to hearing and it felt strange.  There were no animals around to make noise, no wind, and no one else at the campground (the other group that night arrived right around sunset).  I strained to hear anything to the point that the silence started to sound loud in my ears.  I don't know what that means exactly, but it happened.  Later, at night, it happened again but in the dark the silence sounded normal.  It sounded peaceful:  I do miss that.

The lows were only supposed to get to 10 or 11 on this trip, but it got much colder than that where I was.  I don't know what the official low was but it spent a lot of time around 0 degrees.  Sleeping was fitful, even bundled up as I was.  Ice collected over everything in my tent (including me) and save one night on this trip  I didn't get more than 3 or 4 hours of sleep.  Yet I never really felt overly tired, I guess my body knew what it was doing.  Still, I've spent more comfortable nights.

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