Reverse Circle: Mesas and Meanders

(Day 8: Moab)

We were back to devising our own hike plan today, so fell back on a hike we haven’t done for a while, but which is far less technical and comprises mostly ‘desert trail’ rather than slickrock or scrambling, namely Dead Horse Point. Having got ourselves ready to go without too much delay, we were up on top of the Mesa and parked at the visitor centre, packs on by 11am. We had a brief look around the centre before setting off. In keeping with our reverse circle theme we set off to hike the west rim trail first, which meant that we were heading in an anti-clockwise direction. Previously we have gone the other way around, or started from the far end of the road, or both.

It was a cloudy day, with fairly flat, grey skies, so not the best for photography, but the views to the eye were still impressive. The west rim trail has three small, out-and-back detours which you can take to reach viewpoints. We took them all. The first, Rim Overlook, afforded views of the side canyon and the white rim.

The second overlook, Schafer Canyon Overlook, provided a view of, yes, Schafer Canyon, plus the road that descends down it from Canyonlands. It also offered a really good view of the Colorado river. I don’t recall stopping at this viewpoint before and it was exciting to stumble (not literally!) across this view.

Previously the route has sometimes been a bit confusing and hard to follow and I am sure it involved a few harder sections. Either we have got better at this, or the State Park management have improved the route cairn locations… or both, because for the most part we had no problem finding our way across the mesa. The third overlook is called Meander Overlook, because of the entrenched meander in the river below.

From there the route crosses ‘the neck’ onto Dead Horse Point and then ends at an overlook of the Colorado.

We found a place to have lunch, which comprised an energy bar each, which we ate whilst Andrew simultaneously fended  off the fierce chipmunks with his hiking poles. I began to wonder if they were operating alone, or whether there was some kind of pack behaviour going on, with chipmunks in front trying to distract from the sneaky actions of those to the side or behind…thoughts of the raptors in Jurassic Park came to mind. Still, we devoured our energy bars without incident and then the chipmunks lost interest. (Note: the chipmunk featured below was, as far as I know, not one of those seeking to get its paws on our lunch, rather another one that scuttled around a few minutes earlier).

We returned along the east rim trail to complete the loop hike. You could smell the Sage, as well as Juniper, occasionally as we brushed past the plants.

As we made good progress along the last half mile I was feeling good about the hike but them suddenly realised that, once we were finished, we would leave and not be back, at least for a while…and I felt a bit sad to be finishing the hike. It is a great place and even today, on a weekend, it had been fairly quiet and without many people, despite being a known, mapped trail which lent it a special air.

Nevertheless, we did finish and decided to drive into Canyonlands, which is on the same mesa top, for a look from some of the viewpoints. Suffice to say neither of us were up for further significant walking today. We stopped first at the visitor centre, where I picked up a book of 40 hikes around the Moab area. Some we have done, some I know about but haven’t yet done…and there are some completely new ones! The book is good in that it also has maps. I guess we might have to come back after all…We then meandered our way to the far end of the road, to Grand View Point.

We then stopped at Buckhorn Overlook, followed by a viewpoint of the the Candlestick.

Finally, we stopped at the Green River Overlook where I set up the tripod in the hopes of using my 10-stop filter to enable a long shutter speed and capture an image with movement in the clouds. I got a photo which was ok, but too short to show cloud movement. Unfortunately, the wind was so strong that the photo with a long enough exposure to show clouds moving also ended up with everything moving…the wind was so strong that despite me trying to hold the tripod down, there was just too much movement.

We headed back to Moab, via a stop at City Market. We were surprised when someone behind us in the queue spoke to us…to discover it was David! Back at our room we had a rest and I downloaded the photos, before working up the emery for showers and heading out to dinner. I was in the mood for pasta, which meant Pasta Jay’s or Zax’s…and Zak’s is nearer. I know, it could be boring, but it is a pleasant place to unwind whilst watching life pass by on Main Street. Plus the pasta was good. 

By now, post-blogging, it is gone 10pm, so a late night by our standards…although I think Andrew is already asleep…. on to Bryce tomorrow. Not sure how the wifi will be, but we will try to maintain normal service! 

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