Saturday, April 17, 2010

drying out at lower elevation

After a LATE departure from Leadville, high-fiving all the way for actually leaving, we made it to the Canyonlands turn off a half hour before dark. It wasn't that long of a drive but after an emergency Wal-Mart/Qdoba excursion for sporks and burritos, we rolled in a little late. I'd called a few days earlier for directions but the reservations were already full and our only hope was to snag a first come/first serve tent site. I was even getting too dark to drive the 22 miles into the park as they gates would close so we popped our tent in a roadsite RV "resort"... falling aleep to the hum of 18-wheelers and shutting out the glow of the Shell gas sign were easy enough, it was those rascally dirt bike children who were the real challenge. Up early for oatmeal and coffee (just bought a GSI 30 oz. press and LOVE it!) and hot-tailed it into Dead Horse Point National Park. Apparently livestock is welcome in National Parks and the ranchers have an agreement to let their stock graze. With eyes peeled, we greeted the ladies and their freshly dropped youngin's. Felt a little Calcutta-esque.

We DID snag a first come site and after a quick tour of the visitor's center, which had a lovely display of the natural flora and fauna, grabbed our water bottles and a few oranges and hit the 5-mile loop that follows the canyon ridge. Dead Horse Point is aptly named due to its morbid history of some overzealous cowboys who got a little too greedy and left a large number of corralled wild horses to die of thirst in view of the Colorado. Not a feel-good kind of story but in line with the bandit theme which haunts much of the southwest.

The hike was fantastic with views around every shrub and rock pile. Resting on the edge of the plateau, gazing down at the river reminded Rocky of his last winter, rafting the Grand Canyon and humbled me with the sheer magnitude of the drop. I always find it breathtaking to sit above where the birds fly.

We munched on a lovely dinner of tuna mac and cheese (Annie's not Kraft!) and wondered where our age group was. We were surrounded by land yachts with names like Conqueror and Extreme Komfort. Might as well have been at the "resort" down the road; but there was no din of trucks and people were nice, so no complaints. Just wish we knew where the other cool 20-something's were. Deducing they were probably fat tire-ing it up on the sticky sand stone of Moab, we bucked up and went for a sunset hike. Lovely park and there is plenty more to see. What a radical difference from our visit to Arches National Park last December on the drive out. No snow and a beastly 80 degrees this time around. For two people who've spent the winter braving the frigid elements, the heat and sunburn were like rediscovering an old friend. My nose is peeling and skin is cracked from the arid climate but it feels great. Rocky keeps disregarding the chapstick, mumbling something like "the body must acclimate"... pass the lotion, I say! Lots more to do and can't wait to get back for more of the desert I know so little about. The multitude of song birds and mammal tracks in the deep red sand can keep one occupied for hours!

On to Salmon, Idaho for friends, hot springs, and hopefully some great detours along the way.

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