The Pioneer Loop. Day 12: Island Clouds.

1 October 2018.

(Location: Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point state park)

Got up after a good sleep, sometime around 0815. Resided that there wasn’t bright sunshine coming in, and that it was very cloudy. I wandered out the back door to see how warm it was and that was when I realised…it was raining. The smell of the rain was actually quite nice…perhaps I’ve been in a hot, dry land too long!

We pottered around and I cooked breakfast, eggs on toast which actually turned out very good.

The rain was supposed to stop at around 10am, which it did. We were still pottering. We eventually left at about 11am, first stop Gearheads because we needed some more snack bars. They have so much stuff in there it is like an Aladdin’s cave. They had the snack bars. They also had a nice t-shirt and a hooded zip up top!

After that we drove up to Canyonlands. On our way we passed the entrance to Arches National Park. We have seen photos of really long queues to get in, but never had more than few cars in front of us when we are here…today the queue must have been over 30 cars long in two lanes. No wonder they are consulting on a permit system. I was then a bit worried about how busy Canyonlands would be, although I hoped the weather would make it less attractive. The rain started again as we drove towards the park. We stopped briefly at the Monitor and Merrimack, rain obscuring distant views. A good job we did the mountain loop drive yesterday because the tops were in cloud today.

After passing through the entrance station (no queue) we approached the visit centre and it was busy with no parking spaces. We didn’t need it, luckily. We pulled in to the Mesa Arch car park, which is a ‘main attraction’. We only wanted to use the toilet, but still had to queue for that! I was now worried that we wouldn’t get parked at the trailhead for our chosen hike, because it is only a small area accommodating up to 8-10 cars, depending upon how well they have parked. When we got there, though, there were only four other cars – success!

Our trail, the Murphy Overlook trail heads out across meadow and slickrock Mesa to access views in three directions. It was still raining so we put on raincoats, but it wasn’t overly cold. About 68F.

We almost had the trail to ourselves, passing three groups (total of four people) on our outbound and two groups on the way back, but for the majority of the time, and all of our time at the viewpoint, it was just us. The weather was impressive. To the south, rain clouds and lots of weather, to the north, sunshine and blue skies. We were walking the line between the two. On our return, the blue skies won out and we removed our coats as it got rapidly warmer, the backpack thermometer reading into the 80s. It was a great hike for both scenery and solitude.

We left Canyonlands and went to Dead Horse Point state park, which is on the same Mesa. We have never hiked to Big Horn Overlook and so that is what we did. It starts at the visitor centre, crosses to the west and then follows around the edge of the canyon. It was a good hike, although completely the wrong time of day for photos as we were looking straight into the sun. The trail ends by going out along a series of sandstones fins, requiring some steep up and down, adjacent to a vertical drop off of a thousand feet off so. It was do-able, but our legs were tired and so we gave this final 50 metres a miss, instead returning to the car before sunset. We only passed one other couple the whole time, so again, we had found the peace and quiet that we enjoy. A total of about 6.8 miles hiked today.

The sunset was not going to be impressive as the sun was dropping behind thick cloud so we returned to Moab. The clouds did turn pink and then orange along the way, making the red rim rocks glow. We quickly called in at the City Market for more eggs and milk and then it was back to out flat for a quick change before going back to Zax’s. It was getting a bit late, but we waited a few minutes and got an upstairs table just to see what it was like!

By the time we got back to our comfy sofa, it was 9.30pm. Some photo downloading and before you knew it, it was another late night. Still, Tropical Storm Rosa is arriving tomorrow, so I think a lie in will be ok!

3 thoughts on “The Pioneer Loop. Day 12: Island Clouds.

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