Monday, August 31, 2015

Hunter Canyon and Corona Arch

And now, after that little dog interlude, back to our stay in Moab. 

After two incredible days and two incredible hikes, we had barely scratched the surface of the wilderness trails, majestic vistas, and mysterious canyons that make up Moab so we just kept going. Near our campsite Tuesday night was Hunter Canyon, which we decided to check out. 

This was a smaller canyon but like Dragonfly Canyon it also had those cool expanses of flat rock. 

When I was 21, I had an internship with Canyonlands National Park pulling invasive weeds and revegetating with native plants whose seeds I collected. This canyon had a lot of tumbleweeds and tamarisk throughout, which bummed me out a little knowing how they mess with the native ecology. 

Tamarisk, also known as salt cedar, extrudes salt, which as you might imagine makes life even more difficult for things trying to live in a water-limited environment. 

Didn't seem to bother the many Red-spotted toads we came across though, who were in tadpole form in the many flowing parts of the stream and on the rocks and sand were hopping about in their tiny new toady bodies. 

We took this canyon all the way back to its end, 

past some more fragrant, seeping vegetative seeps, 

until we emerged, 4 hours later, ready for a break from hiking. 

That afternoon we took a nice little loop drive into the La Sal Mountains, and climbed about 5,000 feet above Moab where the view was incredible.

Then back down to Ken's Lake, which I remembered from when I first came to Moab though I hadn't remembered it being so nice. 

Cool, utterly clear water fed by water cascading down the slickrock fins from Mill Creek, and a rocky peaceful beach to relax on. 

What a full day! Time to relax in the tent under a gorgeous sky. 

The next day, for a grand finale to our stay in Moab we decided  to hike to Corona Arch and Bowtie Arch. This hike was well advertised at the Visitors Center so we thought it might be touristy and crowded, but at least at 8 in the morning, there was no one. 

This was a perfect hike to go on because after all the hikes we'd done in canyons and along water, I was ready for a hike high up on the rock above everything. 

For me there is something so magical about being up on this other level, 

that looks like it's part of another planet. 

And where you never know whether you'll be able to climb higher, or get cut off, 

or what arch or cave or ruin you'll find up above on this other plane of existence where normal rules do not constrain you. 
We stopped and had breakfast sitting on the slickrock under Bowtie Arch, 

where we could hear the voices of the first hikers to venture up after us echoing across the slickrock as they climbed up the trail.

And then we went under Corona Arch, and came to where the slickrock angled up steeply. 

We could have continued, but that was a lot of adventure for one day.

Time to hike back down, along a trail that Florian thought was full of sneeks, and finally to leave Moab.

After picking up some grapefruit Hefeweizen and stopping for one last swim in Ken's Lake, we drove back to Colorado under some great skies 

and camped in a sweet-smelling campground near Cimarron, which felt like a deeply, solidly good place. 

And finally we got to see my dear old friend Sheryl, who lives in a sweet little log cabin apartment in Carbondale that reminded me of when I lived in a studio in Santa Fe, when I was surrounded by lots of really amazing women friends but not a handsome Swiss guy in sight. 

And after spending a sweet night camped outside Sheryl's place, we headed up towards Denver and found one last chilly mountain lake to swim in 

before finding our way to the airport and finally, home to our dogs.  

We're going to have to make these trips out West a more regular thing.


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