We had a weather change that is unusual for Logan. The cold and snow storm was much earlier than normal.
Over the last couple of days we have had several inches. Today the snow is falling and building up everywhere. The weather forecast tells us that it will all be gone by the end of the day but for now that looks very unlikely. Weather forecasts are a guess at best.
We are back in Logan. It is nice to be still. Vacationing is exhausting.
I know, I know ... 1st world problems of retired people.
Today, we visited Gooseneck State Park which overlooks the San Juan River 1,000 feet below and the canyon it has cut in the land. The river winds back and for through very tight turns.
The only features of the park are the overlooks, boondocking for $10 per night, and pit toilets.
Next, we drove to the southwest entrance of the Valley of the Gods. Some of the grades in the park are 6% to 9%.
The road on the southwest end of the drive was pretty rough and made many drops in and out of washes. That part of the road is not safe for large RV's. The dips in the washes is very short and a large RV could bottom out. Short trailers and truck campers would be fine. The southeast entrance has better roads. We saw many large RV's free camping next to some beautiful landscapes.
The Valley has tall red mesas, buttes, and vertical cliffs that stand high over the road. There are many towers of several sizes and shapes. The road is 17 miles long and is dirt and gravel. Warnings are everywhere to not drive this road after it has rained. The mud would be slick and give you no traction.
We moved to Mexican Hat, Utah. Little did we know that there is NO internet in Mexican Hat. They do have AT&T cell service but even that has no data and only supports calls and text messages.
Until this year, they did not even have cell service in the area. That changed after an accident took out the phone lines and no one could call out for emergency services. The state requested a tower but, of course, without stipulation that it be a regular tower. What they got was a tiny tower with limited service support.
Most of today we posted to the blog and rested.
The hike yesterday really kicked our rumps.
We got up early again and drove to the end of the road in Arches National Park. The hike gives views of the majority of the arches in the park. The hike is a bit more than 7.8 miles total with rock scrambles, ridge walking, and an elevation gain and loss of over 1,100 feet. The views were fantastic even better than yesterday.
As we started down the easy portion of the trail, we walked down a couple of side trails that gave us views of several arches.
Prior to reaching the Landscape Arch, we turned off on to the primitive trail which will give us views of many more arches in the park.
We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into on this hike. It was much more challenging than we could have imagined. We should have gotten a clue from the name “Devils Garden Trail”. I bet that was supposed to be a hint this would not be easy. It is surprising that the park service even allows people to take the hike as it is laid out.
At first, it was just a flat walk on a sandy path. We were surrounded by views of mountains and vistas.
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The trees are old. I mean really old!. We were told that these pines grow very slowly and the larger ones can be over 2,000 years old.
There were tiny prints in the sand all around us. Most were kit fox, lizards, chipmunks or kangaroo rats.
We have reached the “fins”. They are huge thin walls of rock many 1,000s of feet long. Most are more than 100 feet wide at the bottom but may only be 3 feet wide at the top. The thinnest we found was only about 10 feet wide going up 100 feet or more to the top.
Soon the path started passing over solid rock. Many times sand made the climbs more treacherous.
We just came up from down there. It helps that others were hiking the path to give a reference for size.
All of a sudden, we had company on the hike.
The scale is amazing. Everything is HUGE!
More Living Soil.
And there were arches including “private arch” where we had lunch. We almost always have interesting views for lunch.
I climbed up a bit higher for a different view.
Little did we know but that will be us in an hour.
On with the hike.
The double O arches were interesting.
Time to walk up a fin. Yep, it is pretty scary. Notice the smooth surface on the fin, that is how you know it is the trail.
But we got a great view of double O.
More climbing and great views.
Another Arch or at least the sign says so.
More fin walking.
We seem to have an angel watching over us.
Perspective arch was one of our favorite.
The walls on our hike to Navajo arch were wild looking.
Time to walk down or slide on our butts to get down the fin. Many times we put cameras away in the packs so we had hands free to find hand holds climbing up or down.
That was wild. This is the scariest hike we have ever done.
It did give us a different “perspective” of the Perspective arch.
Finally we stopped at Landscape arch. It is huge.
Sorry I got distracted.
We did find a few flowers.
Almost back to the parking lot.
We got up early and headed out to Arches. The park can get really busy and we wanted to be there while it was still fairly cool. Several of the arches require a hike to see them.
The drive in was amazing. It is like driving into a movie. I understand why so many people come to this park.
The park rangers try to make it clear that walking off the paths can destroy “Biological soil” which is a knobby black crust that is made up of lichen, mosses, green algae, fungi, and bacteria. The process makes the desert soil suitable for plants to grow. The process is extremely slow and stepping on it can completely stop the process for a year or longer.
We found our way to several of the Arches.
Of course, we took the less walked path. The “primitive” trail took us along the areas that most tourists never get to see.
We decided to take the hike to Delicate Arch. It was an interesting hike that took us over a huge rock outcrop and on a ledge.
Long ago this area was a small ranch. A couple of the buildings are still here.
Our last stop was Balanced Rock.
The legend source of the park's name is pretty disturbing. It goes… Cowboys herded wild horses on a point of the mesa with a very narrow neck and blocked the opening. After selecting horses they wanted, the cowboys left and the remaining horses could not find their way off the mesa. The horses died of thirst in view of the Colorado river in the canyon floor 2000 ft below. Their bleached bones were found later. Cruel does not even start to describe what happened. I hope that this never happened.
Far below, we could see Solar Evaporation Ponds. Look close and you can see the huge scraper loading up with potash for fertilizer.
The “neck” is very narrow. A two lane road allows access to the end of the point with only a few feet on each side. The sides drop off at the end of the wood "fencing" on either side of the road.
There were fantastic views of the canyon and river below.
Our lunch spot was great. We did have a problem with a very determined chipmonk who had obviously been fed by people.
Then back across the neck and as Canyonlands National Park is just a few more miles down the road, we drove through and stopped at several overlooks.
Finally, we drove back to town where we stopped at the town's only brewery for dinner.
When we got back to the RV, we had a bit of a show from a hang glider.
Ken’s Lake campground is SO much better than our other choices. It is a simple no hookup campground but it is quiet, dark at night, and has some great views.
Time to visit the area's only winery. It was nice and they have wild turkeys as bug control.
The next morning's sunrise was pretty spectacular.
Boondocking was the plan but there was no way that was going to happen. We tried several spots and there were people everywhere. The few spots we thought about using were too unlevel to use or worse were almost impossible to get to with our rig.
I was getting pretty frustrated and was concerned that we may have damaged the RV pulling through some of the areas.
We finally resorted to a ridiculously expensive RV park for the night.
We are a couple who have started on a new adventure...