The Mighty Six. Day 8: Castles and Towers.

A week ago the nights seemed quite long, and I was awake wondering if I could get up yet and get going. This morning, the night seemed quite short and I was wondering if I could stay in bed… I compromised and got up when the alarm went off, only to make coffee and take it back to bed. We did eventually get up, breakfast and get sorted, and were out a full 20 minutes earlier than yesterday, much to our surprise.

I had asked Andrew what he wanted to do today and he had chosen the Fisher Towers Trail. I decided that was an afternoon hike, to get the best light, which left us with a couple of hours to fill in the morning. Option 1 was an extra hike, but Fisher Towers is 4.4 miles long and quite strenuous. Thoughts of Corona Arch (3.0 miles with some climbing) or Park Avenue (2.0 miles and some climb) didn’t therefore seem like a good plan. Option 2 only presented itself this morning, when we shared the lift with a lady in a white dress and tartan cape. It seemed there was a Celtic festival in town this weekend, which explained the sighting of some pipe band members unloading at a hotel last night. Called ‘Scots on the Rocks’, the festival was being held a few miles south of town. Option 3 ward to go to Gearheads, the local outdoor shop for a browse and some shopping, and then take the La Sal mountain loop road over to Castle Valley, near the Fisher Towers. In the end, we took Option 3.

We found a couple of things to get at Gearhead’s, nipped in to City Market, and then took US-191 south towards Spanish Valley and the loop road. On the way, we passed the festival site where pipe bands and caber tossing were in full swing. We turned off towards the mountains and started climbing up, getting good views of Moab, the valley floor, a glimpse of Ken’s Lake and the distant Henry Mountains.

At the top, we pulled over for a view of Castle Valley, with Castle Tower (the tall thin one) and the Priest and the Nuns (to the right). There was snow on the ground in the sheltered spots. I tried to make a snowman but it was just too powdery.

We started the descent on the north side of the mountains. There was snow and ice on the road, but it only covered half the road width and I was able to drive around it… until it covered all of the road. We have a running joke that weird stuff (snow storms, flash floods causing the road to disintegrate, herds off cows..) only ever happens when I’m driving. I decided it was Andrew’s turn, and handed over to him! He had spotted the ‘snow mode’ setting on the car and, with that helping, safely navigate the few hundred yards of snow.

We continued to descend into Castle Valley and then made our way to Fisher Towers.

There isn’t a lot to say, other than it is a hard hike that hugs the cliffs, meandering in and out around the end of each canyon, as it climbs upwards. It is very pretty though.

We could hear climbers on the way up, but got a good sight on them on our way back down as they abseiled down the side of the Corkscrew.

We got back to the car just before sunset, as the cliffs were at their most red, a bit tired and a lot hungry. We still had the new supplies from City Market in the car, including crisps and chocolate… so we tucked in to these, washed down with Earl Grey tea!

This set us up enough for the drive back to Moab. We had been thinking of doing some night photography, but it was quite late the time we showered, so we postponed that and just went for food. Walking past Miguel’s Baja Grill there was no queue so we decided to see if they had room – and they did. Lucky timing, as a queue formed just afterwards.

Dinner was followed by hat shopping for Andrew, and then it was back to the room to blog and relax.

Photos taken: 90

Videos made: 1

Steps taken: 20,081

Miles hiked: 4.4 canyon miles

Distance travelled: er… I did check this morning for the start mileage, but I forget by the end of the day!

Editor’s note: yesterday’s video from the Devil’s Garden in Arches is here. Today’s is still in production!

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