My journey across Southern Utah has been intense.
It has been a journey that has made use of the outdoor skills acquired over the years. My gear and clothing continue to show signs I’ve been hiking in an environment that is not gentle.
But it has also been intense because every day brings a new experience that would be the highlight of a typical year of backpacking.
Vistas have been seen I won’t forget. Slot canyons glow in the early morning light. And the desert sunsets end my day with deep reds and then the evening begins with the clear skies above with a bright moon that brings the landscape into sharp relief.
I have not experienced Utah for a day. Or a weekend. Or even a week.
But for thirty days.
A month of canyons, deserts, hoodoos, spires, and red rock. Where the smell of sage is always present. And a pool of water is cause for rejoicing.
Mike for mile, this hike has been incredible.
When I left Hanksville, a typical day.for this journey was experienced from Poison Springs Canyon down to the Dirty Devil River at the mouth of Happy Canyon.
I walked through a wide canyon that started off as maintained jeep track and turned into single track as I made my descent to the river. I had a rare trifecta of easy hiking, no navigation challenges, and scenic hiking. A satisfying day.
The following day I went into Happy Canyon and enjoyed another small slot along with some more scrambling as I made my way to Canyonlands National Park.
And the place I made way into in the park? The Maze.
A spot I’ve always wanted to see. A remote place that is still full of mystique and wonder. And from a mesa, I gazed upon it.
I was finally entering The Maze!
Upon entering The Maze, I saw two park rangers completing some maintenance. One ranger was a little confused where my car was sparked. I sheepishly explained how I walked from Nevada. He did a double take and then excitedly asked about my trip. He confirmed the springs for the route were flowing.
Once we parted, I felt like a kid in a toy store. I was in The Maze!
The old pack trail was in good condition. And the springs were indeed flowing.
The following morning, I caught a view of The Doll House in the early light.
My crossing over the Colorado River at Spanish Bottom was not far away.
After a steep descent to the river, the Intex 200 I’ve been schlepping for almost one-hundred miles was pulled out and inflated.
Known in canyoneering circles as a dirt bagger solution for flatwater, this poor man’s packrafting would be a new experience to me.
As I was about to push off, I noticed some people in real rafts passing by me. They meandered around Spanish Bottom proper for a bit. I suspect they wanted to make sure some fool was not going to do the rapids ahead in a toy raft. 🙂
And so I shoved off. My paddling technique was rough. But I crossed the Colorado River on my own.
I also noticed the rafters floated away. No doubt satisfied I was not going to commit suicide by stupidity. 😉
I landed on the opposite bank. My brief time as a river rat was over. Time to backpack again. Symbolically, the raft blew away as I was deflating it. My apologies to the river gods!
From there I walked into a canyon and climbed steeply up. Some last views to The Doll House were enjoyed.
The spires that give The Needles District of Canyonlands its name was enjoyed for the first time since 2004.
A desert sunset was savored for my final night in Canyonlands.
I left the park and made my way to less used and more remote areas again.
The culmination was a tough climb looking over Lockhart Basin.
Not long after. I could see the La Sal Mountains after a bit. And evidence of more maintenance and higher use.
Today I walked into Moab.
A person I’ve corresponded with for years in the long-distance hiking community is graciously hosting me.
A near zero day is being enjoyed. A chance to relax and resupply. And get ready for the final push.
The Colorado border is only about forty miles away.
And the journey is almost complete.