Canyonlands National Park – Island in the Sky

Being on the road and camping can lead to interesting encounters. During our ‘down day’ on Thursday, while sitting  in the community kitchen in the late afternoon using our electronic gear, Diana and Faulk, a couple from Canada joined us at our table because the other tables were taken by a church youth group. We struck up a conversation and chatted amiably about our plans and what they had seen and planned to do. When we ran into them again on late Friday afternoon they shared their itinerary which listed the campgrounds they were staying in. They had done their research – Diana had a “must have clean bathroom” criteria similar to Diane’s – which we leveraged by making note of the campgrounds in Torrey, UT (Capital Reef National Park) and Escalante, CO (Grand Staircase Escalante) since we are planning to visit both places.

We spent our ‘down day’ on Thursday getting caught up on email, the blog and even hiked ~4.8 miles round trip to the grocery store to restock our supplies. It was quite hot with very little shade so the air conditioned campground community center was a welcome retreat.

Friday morning we headed into Canyonlands National Park – Island in the Sky. The temperature was climbing quickly and it was forecasted to be just as hot (99ºF) as yesterday.  We debated about revisiting Arches National Park and hiking out to “Devil’s Garden” but were put off by the crowds we knew the park drew during the summer. I’m glad we did because when we passed the exit for Arches off of US191 there was quite a long line of cars lined up to get in. Pass.

Onwards to Canyonlands. Given the hot summer temperature we knew we could only do one hike before it got too warm. After talking to a park ranger at the visitor center we decided to hike to the two overlook points of  ‘Upheaval Dome’. The parking lot for the trail was already quite full but we managed to squeeze into a space which was right at the trail head. Getting ready to hike after riding the motorcycles is a bit of an involved process since we have to change out of our riding gear into hiking clothes and then secure our gear to the bikes. While Diane needs a place to change I’m less bashful and am sure a couple of people were temporarily blinded when I changed shirts and the bright sun reflected off my super bright white torso :-). As usual, we took our time hiking and taking lots of pictures (mostly of rocks). Sidetone: We overheard a child complaining to her mom: ‘More rocks?! We have been looking at rocks for over a week now.’ Clearly, not a geologist in the making.

The trail was busy but only to the first overlook. Hiking over slick rock (sandstone) is a little different since the usual way to mark trails isn’t very useful. Instead, the park service puts up cairns to mark the trail. Getting to the second outlook took a little bit more physical effort and decends along a narrowish path but even Diane managed fine. Nonetheless, we were the only ones on the second part of the trail. When we got back from our hike it was already after 12:00PM and uncomfortably hot. Diane decided we were done hiking for the day so we drove the park roads some more until the slow traffic became unbearable and then headed back to Moab. It was a fun outing but just too hot. Time to leave the tourist crowds and heat. Tonight is our last night before breaking camp and heading out Saturday morning.



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