Spring Break 2017: Moab, Utah

2017 has been more of the crazy busy that 2016 was. I did take off some time recently to hike Mt. Peale and Black Mesa but other than that, I’ve been head down working hard on making a house happen (and on that front, I’m waiting around on an “as built” appraisal right now…).

Last fall, my friend Kelly moved to California and left her van at my place until she could figure out how to get it moved out there with her. I volunteered to drive it out over Spring Break. My roommate, Katherine, was starting her break in Moab so I joined her and her friends for a couple of days.

On my way out to Moab from Ridgway, I discovered, when I was pulled over in Norwood, that the tags on the van were expired. This lead to some handwringing between Kelly and I as we tried to figure out what our best course of action was. Since the courthouse in Ouray was closed on Fridays, we decided I should just go for it and we’d deal with potential tickets when and if they came. Because of this delay, I reached Moab a little bit later than I’d hoped but it was Thursday night and I had more than a week of freedom ahead of me.

We’d hoped to get permits to hike Arches National Park‘s Fiery Furnace on Friday morning but alas, all of the permits were gone until Sunday but I’d need to head west before that. Since Katherine’s friend Brittney had never been to the park we hiked to Delicate Arch and then out to Sand Dune Arch. The weather was windy and cold so it wasn’t until we got out to Sand Dune Arch that I finally started to feel like it was break. Scrambling around sandstone makes me grin like a fool and that really helped kick off some vacation!

I mentioned that I really wanted to go to Back of Beyond Books and Katherine wanted to go to Gear Trader. Out of character for all of us, we went shopping. Much to Katherine’s surprise, I spent money: I bought books, a (super sweet) hat, and a new MSR pot since mine seems to have disappeared. The sun came out and the weather warmed up so walking around town felt awesome. Once we were done shopping, we started floating ideas about where to go next. I suggested Cable Arch but that wasn’t getting much response. Katherine suggested visiting Castle Valley so I suggested that we go out there and taste wine at Castle Creek. We caravaned out of town, pausing to get water at Matrimony Spring, and headed for the winery.

Tasting at Castle Creek is only $1 for 4 tastes (thanks Utah law, you can only do 4 tastes but if you plan with your friends you can taste them all). Since we’d stopped at Red Rocks, we visited the Utah Museum of Film and Western Heritage. I’d never stopped before but was pretty fascinated with all of the movies and commercials that had been filmed out there! I knew about a lot of them but there were several that were total surprises!

Back in Moab, we grabbed dinner at The Spoke and then headed to the brewery to pick up some beer and have a pint before heading back to camp. The blustery weather had returned so we were happy to not have to return to camp yet. It seemed to be outdoors social media weekend in Moab so I was able to finally meet Dave W. and catch up with Mike R.

After a couple of beers we headed back to camp, where much wine and beer were drunk and campfire smoke inhaled and we all headed off to sleep. It poured overnight making getting the van out of our sandy camp spot somewhat interesting but it was time for me to be heading off towards California!

Hunter Canyon

While F was riding, Sprocket and I headed out hiking. The weather was gorgeous but on the hot side so I took Sprocket to Hunter Canyon. There was still plenty of water in the canyon which made Sprocket really happy.

I love hiking and exploring some of the narrow canyons in the deserts. This was a pretty nice trail that crossed the creek several times. The cliffs above the had arches and other interesting rock formations. It was really nice to be out enjoying myself in the company of my puppy. Sprocket was pretty delighted to have lots of water to play in.

The Hunter Canyon trail is about four miles round trip and is mostly flat. The canyon isn’t that narrow so there’s plenty of sunshine but also lots of places to find some shade for a break. It’s not too far from Moab but also is less popular than trails in Arches or elsewhere. Open to hikers only, it’s a nice quiet place to relax and explore.

Moab Riding

This is what happens when F goes riding:

Joking aside, some of F riding buddies from Phoenix came up to Moab to do some riding and we were able to be there and meet up with them. The guys covered a lot of ground in their two days of riding: Slickrock Trail, Fins N’ Things, Rose Garden Hill, Top of the World, Chicken Corners, Kane Creek, and more.

All photos courtesy of the guys over on ADV Rider.

Fellow Adventurers!: Hanging out with Simply Adventure

Last week, Simply Adventure passed through Moab. Katie mentioned that they were looking for things to do so I suggested that we meet up and take a quick hike into Hidden Valley. We ambled up the trail comparing notes about living on the road and the places we’d visited and were planning on visiting. It was so much fun to talk to people who truly get how we live—van life +adventure=awesomeness.

At the top of the valley, we set out to see the petroglyphs. In all my hikes up the canyon, I had never seen them. It’s one of the coolest petroglyph sites around Moab: they’re on a cliff overlooking Behind The Rocks, the river, and off towards Canyonlands & Deadhorse Point with the La Sals behind you.

After our seven and a half mile “quick hike,” we were all hungry and decided that this occasion called for a trip to the Moab Brewery (good burgers, expensive meh beer). We toasted to new vandwelling friends and had an excellent time.

The next day, we’d hoped to go jeeping but the day started out cold and wet. I joined Katie and Niko on a trip to Arches. I hadn’t been since my first trip to Moab in spring 2009 so I was more than happy to go back. We visited Sand Dune and Broken Arches in the north part of the park before hiking to Delicate Arch.

A huge thank you to Simply Adventure for sharing some fun!

Simply Adventure is spending 2013 on the road in their yellow Sprinter climbing and emphasizing land stewardship and conservation. Katie blogs about their adventures at The Morning Fresh, tweets from @TheMorningFresh and @SimplyAdventure, and can be found on Facebook.

Assorted Moab Fun

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve been getting out and having some fun in the mountains and on the slickrock.

Last Sunday we took the Jeep out on the Strike Ravine trail, watched a buggy do the last obstacle on upper Helldorado. We took the long way home up onto a mesa above Pack Creek and did some successful(!) antler hunting.

For Forrest’s birthday last week we made a valliant attempt to drive to Oowah Lake. We nearly made it but getting out involved winching a couple of times (and me climbing 10′ into a tree to set up a winch anchor). We finished off the birthday with dinner in town and dessert back at our friends’ house.

We also took a trip to the ridge above Carpenter Basin. Forrest spent his time up there looking for antlers while Sprocket and I attempted to reach the high point of the ridge (we were foiled by snow just below the top).

On our way back from hiking, we checked out a couple of abandoned mines. The hillsides in that area are covered in mining remains!

Ken’s Lake

Poor Sprocket didn’t get to do much swimming or snow playing this winter. We did our best but only managed one swim and a couple of sessions in the La Sals this spring so when we went to Ken’s Lake we had one excited puppy on our hands:

And to top it all off for him, there was sand:

Behind The Rocks

About a week and a half ago I had the opportunity to shoulder my pack and head out into the “back of beyond” for a couple of days. For the first time ever I didn’t take Forrest, Sprocket, or anyone else with me. I was on my own for 72 hours (I actually woosed out a bit and came back to the real world at about 68 hours but good enough).

I’m much more of a “goal oriented” hiker and I floundered a bit my first day or so out. Making your way cross-country in the maze of rocks is absolutely amazing but also sort of daunting, especially with a pack on your back. I eventually gave in and picked a destination down a jeep road so I could start putting down some miles. (Perhaps this trip was about breaking through being alone and the next will be about having a more exploratory attitude?)

As a bit of an experiment on traveling alone, I would say it was successful. I was never scared or worried about myself and I got to do lots of thinking, hiking, and sleeping. On the other hand, I did learn that for me “solo” is better served with a side of canine companionship: Sprocket isn’t exactly talkative but he is an awesome listener so he facilitates thinking quite nicely. (Besides, he’s an awesome tent cuddler.)

Another awesome thing about my hike was seeing the La Sal Mountains, the Abajo Mountains and the Henry Mountains from amidst the red rock.

Here’s the La Sal Mountains just peaking out from Behind The Rocks (I had a better view of them from the rim but apparently I was too struck by their beauty to take a picture):

The Abajo Mountains, to the south:

The Henry Mountains, to the west:

In the end, I’d say I was pretty lucky to have those three days, wouldn’t you agree?

La Sal Mountains: Spring Snow

Last Tuesday, we hauled all our stuff north to Moab (as pictured yesterday). It was really exciting to see some real snow covered mountains as a change from southern Arizona!

Getting a glimpse of the mountains from the road was enough for us to venture up into them for the afternoon so we grabbed a lunch, loaded Sprocket in the jeep, and away we went. We headed up La Sal Pass road which climbed quickly into the mountains.

Sprocket was very, very happy to be out playing in the mountains. He could hardly contain himself in the jeep, sticking his head over my shoulder for optimal sniffing capabilities.

When the snow drifts over the road stopped us, we started hiking. Sprocket immediately ran to the nearest patch of snow and did his usual crazy dog act:

The views from our hike were pretty incredible: