Mountains and Canyons. Day 14: Island Sampler

(Location: Canyonlands National Park)

(Editor’s note: all past episodes are now up to date with photos. Woo-hoo! There will be a video link for today, but it is still cooking, so please check back another day if you’re interested! Thank you!)

(P.S. Videos now in!)

Temperature 4C, feels like…well, 4C is probably being generous. No sun on the balcony as it faces south-west, but it does mean a great view of red rock cliffs. I made coffee and ventured out anyway. Andrew enjoyed the view from bed… It had been a late ish night last night, so we were up slightly later.

We had breakfast in the hotel, then got ready to hike. We drove up to the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands and after a brief stop at the visitor centre, parked at the Lathrop Trailhead.

This trail offers everything you could want from Canyonlands: Mesa, grasslands and sagebrush, sandstone domes, sandy ‘gardens’ and views. Big views. It starts with a 1.25 mile walk across the Mesa meadows. Not so bad on the way out, but feels like it goes on for ever on the way back!

The second half of the walk goes through what I mentally regard as a garden area. The sandstone pockets with yucca, cactus, juniper and more are almost like designed desert gardens. The trail itself can be challenging as it climbs and descends the slick rock surfaces, but you start to get great views.

Our hike ended at the rim, with a view of the meandering Colorado River. We sat for quite a while enjoying the sunshine and eating a snack bar. The air temperature remained cold at about 7C, but the sun was warm and, wonderfully, there was very little breeze.

Lathrop Trail video

We hiked back. The grassland was extensive…I kept thinking I could see the car but it generally turned out to be a bush! You couldn’t actually see the car until the last few hundred yards and it was very welcome.

Nevertheless, we decided to fit in another quick hike, this time along the Murphy Overlook trail. The sun was rapidly descending towards a thick cloud bank, so we set a fast pace outbound to try and get a view of the cliffs before we lost the direct sunlight. We just managed! We then adopted a more moderate pace back to the car, but it was now starting to feel very cold without the sun.

Murphy Overlook trail video

We started the drive back home but kept an eye on the clouds. There was a brief movement when the sun emerged from the base of the cloud bank and illuminated the rocks. Then it started to colour the sky. I kept making Andrew stop the car so I could try more photos. Eventually I had to admit it was now too dark for any more.

After a brief visit to City Market we returned to the hotel. By the time we were ready for dinner it was 1930. We headed to the Spoke, only to discover it was closed tonight for a private party. No problem…we settled on Pasta Jay’s, just across the road. Very tasty. Back in the room I worked on the blog updates. Andrew it appears is ready for sleep… Another late-ish night, so probably a bit of a lie in.

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