Saturday, October 12, 2013

Day 14 - Canyonlands National Park - Needles section

Saturday, October 12

Views from Needles Overlook

We arrived last night at the Needles Outlook fairly late, the light was quickly fading so it was really hard to see the landscape. This morning we weren’t going to leave until we could get the morning’s light to See the breathtaking landscape.  It did not disappoint!

Another view from Needles Overlook

Next, we were on the road from Needles Outlook (22 miles from the main road route 191) , south on 191 to Canyonlands National Park/Needles section.  This was the first reopening day of the National Parks in Utah;

The irridecent boulders/Needles Overlook

THANK YOU Governor of Utah for springing for this reopening (for at least 10 days and more if needed).  Sometime while driving there, we decided that since it was about 32 miles into this park, we might want to see if they have any campground openings

Our boondocking spot at Needles Overlook

This was especially since we were at the head of a line of vehicles riding down the mountain road to get there.  Honestly, I didn’t have much hope as this was around 10 am.  Did I say breathtaking views?????? WOW!!!  The ride in was fabulous…Utah is fabulous. can see our rv in background Canyonlands National Park
We scored a campsite of our choosing ($15 thank you) and set up camp which for us is putting the mat out and taking the bikes down.  However, we have no mat right now as we left it in Goblin Valley SP. 

Hiking views
 Next came the decision as to what we were going to do today which took more time than taking the bikes down or positioning/leveling the rv.   I was being lazy and indecisive  and wasn’t up for a long hike.

Simply awesome views
We finally settled on biking to the visitors centers which morphed into let’s just bike less than ¼ mile to the trail head and see what we see.  Back and forth discussion ended up with my at least starting on the Big Spring  Canyon to Squaw Canyon trail  and if I decided to walk back…okay with me. 

Scrambling down and up this was work.

The description said, “the route connects to canyons for a loop across varied terrain.  The route climbs steep grades and is not for someone with fear of  heights.” (YUP, fear of heights that is me.)

The big picture

Off we went and I was thinking that I would end up walking back but I got into walking pretty easily and some of the tough parts (scrambling and clawing my way up the steep grades and down a ladder) I managed to perform with David’s help.  I also had David scope out some parts ahead to let me know if this was something I wanted to do.  Of course, he climbs rocks for fun so he has no fear.  I managed with sweating hands and a bit of stress to make it through (and with David’s help) some tough parts.  We hit the flats again…phew. 

This is the saddle between two canyons that we crossed and you can see me in the picture...the dot left of the saddle.

The potholes and almost done

 There was some discussion as to where exactly we were.  Usually in this stuff I am the one who is right.  Well, David wasn’t convinced  I was right so he asked the family we ran into if they knew where we were.  This time I was wrong and we were not where we thought we were (not many signs out there but lots of cairns).  As it turns out we had made a wrong turn in the beginning and we were in Lost Canyon.  At this point we had a choice.  Go back over the difficult stuff or go forward.  Forward meant 6.1 miles to get back to trailer.   Backward was much shorter.  Guess which one I picked?  Forward.  Also, the man had said there was no more scrambling.   In my own defense, it is not that I cannot perform the tasks of scrambling/clawing but when you add heights to the formula it freaks me out…fear of falling on something I probably won’t fall on.


View out our dining window.
Onward I marched thrilled to not have any more scrambling or heights to deal with.  We walked, walked, and walked.  I was beginning to wonder if we would make it out before dark so I took no breaks.  We were not prepared for dark I am embarrassed to say.  Through stream beds, sand/lots, up and down, some light scrambling.  Finally the canyon was getting narrower and going up….not a good sign for me.  We made it almost to  the top where I saw I was going to be stressed by the height/scrambling.  Crap, that man lied!  At this point there was no turning back due to time constraints. As we got to the  top/saddle between the two canyons  via some scrambling/heights, David busied himself taking photos.  I didn’t look down or at the view until later (in the pictures).    We were both tired from no breaks, my hips hurt, david’s knees hurt. He hadn’t worn his knee brace because he thought we weren’t going to do much.  There seemed to be endless canyons but we knew we were on the right path and closer to our rv.  We picked our way down and out of the canyon.  Finally with long shadows we hit the trail junction and 1.1 miles back to camper.  I could see it in the distance!    It was the longest 1.1 miles ever.    My legs felt like rubber.    Fast dinner and relaxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.  In the end we walked 8.0 to 8.7 miles and if we had done our original hike to Big Spring it might have been 7.5 miles.

Additional notes to self regarding Canyonlands:  no dump station, section A seemed better than section b, dishwashing sink at campground, bring in water although they do have pumps, research hikes online to see what are the best ones to do.  Needles Outpost/private campground has a dump station should you need it but it is not close or even on the way out...miles away.  There are enough potential overnight pull offs along 211 should the National Park not have sites.  Check out time is 10 am.


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