WASU Part 6:Journey’s End

My nero day in Moab was relaxing. Nearly a whole day to do laundry, shower, shop, and tie up some loose ends that don’t go away because I am out hiking. 🙂

Joan was a gracious host, and I was (am!) grateful for the RnR in Moab.

After a hearty breakfast at a nearby diner, I walked from Joan’s home and made my way to the popular Sand Flats Recreation Area above town.

For a person to be on foot in this area known for mountain biking or four-wheeling was unusual, to put it mildly.

A ranger on patrol wanted to know if I was OK. I explained what I was doing and why.  The ranger then asked if I had worked in technology? A bit puzzled, I confirmed that occupation to indeed is true. It turns out he works full time in software and part-time as a ranger. The part-time job helps keep his sanity. I knowingly smiled. And that is all the commentary necessary!

The ranger suggested I follow the Porcupine Rim and Kokopelli Trails.

I originally was not going to follow this route as it is unusual to hike this very popular mountain bike route. And it was a Saturday.

The ranger reported low use for today and the views were worth it.

I took his advice and was glad for it.

The views of the Castle Valley and up the La Sal Mountains showed why this trail is considered one of the world classics for mountain biking. And why it makes a rather good hike out of Moab, too.

I made my way further into the La Sals and enjoyed a last sunset view towards Moab.

A decision had to be made. Would I follow the lower route in the La Sal Mountains? Or take the higher route? With a cold snap that came in that evening, a decision to hike a lower route was made.

The lower route had its charms. A view into Fisher Valley was enjoyed with the coffee I packed in for a luxury on this final stretch of the route.

Caffeinated, and looking at my map, I realized I could make the border that evening.

Jeep track was walked as I steadily gained elevation in the La Sal foothills.  The temperatures were dropping as the sky grew a darker shade of gray.

But towards dusk, I spied a cattle guard about where I figured Colorado to start and Utah to end.

The goal was reached. My trek across Utah was ended.

As I wrote on Instagram:

On Oct 10th at about 1pm, I took my first step from the #Nevada and #Utah border. Thirty-two days and over six-hundred miles later, I reached the Utah and #Colorado border at 5:30 PM on Nov 12th. No monument was there.  No sign indicating the end of the journey. No last trail blaze.  Not even a state marker. Just a barbed wire fence and a cattle guard indicating one state was left and another one was entered. An appropriate ending for this route.

It is my last night on my trek as I write these thoughts.  I am perhaps one mile into Colorado. I am sleeping in the same type of #camping spot I’ve used numerous times over the course of 33 days: Flat, in the juniper trees, off a jeep road, and surrounded by desiccated cow patties.

But seven miles up the road is Gateway, CO. I’ll have breakfast, hitch an hour up to the city of Grand Junction, get a motel room, shower, perhaps get some clippers and trim my hair and beard. I drive back to Boulder the following day in a rental car.

The Utah journey is ended.

And what a journey it was over the course of these weeks. To a paraphrase a well-known Utah based author named Ed, my route was often  crooked, very winding, typically lonesome, only sometimes a bit dangerous, and almost always leading to the most amazing view.

Mile for mile, this route has been by far the most scenic, wonderful, invigorating, challenging, rewarding, and inspiring multi-week #backpacking trip I’ve taken.

Almost every day on this journey has created memories that would be the highlight of a typical year of backpacking for me. And I experienced over thirty days of this magic. I am lucky. Or perhaps blessed.

And because of this journey, I also know I am not waiting eight years  before I take another multi-week #hiking trip again. Ever.

After a week of some rest and catching up with friends, it is time to start the next phase of my sabbatical. A road trip is on tap. The nights are now long. A great time to car camp in remote areas and explore during the day.

But for now, I will just savor this amazing journey I had on foot through the state of Utah.

The final miles in Colorado down John Brown Canyon did not disappoint.

I exited the canyon and hitched from Gateway.

I am now in Grand Junction. I head back to the Front Range in the morning. And I look forward to the next stage of this sabbatical.

Continue to overall thoughts and insights on this journey…

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6 years ago

Congratulations on reaching Colorado! I’m eagerly waiting for your post-trip photos–I hope there are a lot more of the Maze!

6 years ago

Glad you had a restful day here in Moab!

Good timing to run into a ranger who know more about the mountain bike traffic this time of year. The views you had on the Porcupine Rim look incredible. Glad to hear you got that hitch into Gateway too. What a great trip and thanks so much for sharing your stories!