Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Into The Heart of Canyonlands National Park
I'm always sorry to see Moab in the rear view mirror, but I was looking forward to getting to the Needles district of Canyonlands. After a beautiful drive very early on Monday morning we were lucky to get what may be the best campsite in the park. There are only about 25 sites and they are well dispersed so you really feel like you have the whole world to yourself. That afternoon, we hiked all of the “short “ trails, finishing with the Slickrock trail, that even though it was only two and one half miles long, in the heat it felt much longer. Of course the sunset was epic. In the morning I took off with my bike intending to see how far I could get up the Elephant Hill trail towards the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers. This is a twenty mile round trip trail with a one mile foot hike from the end of the four wheel drive road to the confluence. Elephant Hill is a legendary four wheel drive trail that is very steep and rocky and generally requires a modified short wheel base jeep to make the climb (and descent). It's much easier on a mountain bike. I kept going and despite some deep sand, I make it to the confluence. I think that it's cool that the only way to actually see it is to walk ten miles, bike 21 miles or do an extreme jeep road with a foot hike at the end. Even though this is near the high season, I was surprised to encounter only two other bikers who had made it half way and were turning around. I drank three liters of water on the ride and spent the rest of the afternoon re-hydrating and chill'n in the shade. The next morning we spent a frustrating hour replacing a bolt and nut on my truck's suspension that had dropped out from all the rough roads we had done and repressurizing the airbags. I have forgotten to bring any socket wrenches so I was trying to tighten the nut with two crappy crescent wrench a millimeter at a time. At least I had packed some spair bolts. We finally left the beautiful Squaw Flats campsite and headed out of the park and stopped at the famous Newspaper Rock which is an amazing collection of petroglyphs that date back several thousand years. We were back on the pavement leave the Morman homeland and humming our way towards the land of beer, Cortez Colorado.