Last weekend I went on my annual Hiking adventure to Moab, Utah.
It was a-freaking-mazing!
The night before my friend Heidi and I hit the road, it snowed. Not just a little flurry either, we are talking serious inches here. Fortunately we were about an hour and a half shy of our original “get a jump start on the drive,” so the roads were fairly clear for us.
The drive from Salt Lake City to Moab is magical. With every passing mile you watch the mountains turn from brown dirt to red rock, or in this particular case, the parts of the mountains peeking through through the snow.
It’s as if the rest of the world, all of your stress, worries and responsibilities, just fades away and you are simply… FREE!
The drive home is nowhere near as fun.
For our first full day of hiking we kicked things off with a three mile round trip hike to see the beautiful Corona Arch.
The trail had the sun shining directly on it and was fairly dry for the most part. We lucked out in weather with sunny clear skies and a brisk temperature in the low 40′s.
Our second hike was a six mile portion of the Porcupine Rim, a trail normally reserved for mountain bikers. I’d have to say over 60% of the trail was covered in snow. The last mile or so had not been traveled since the recent snow fall so we broke trail through 4-6 inches of slushy snow.
Hiking through the snow is actually quite fun. Mostly because I got to try out crampons for the first time, which surprisingly is nowhere nearly as kinky as it sounds.
For our second day of hiking we decided to try something a little off the beaten path. Our group leaders spoke with a ranger about a hike to see Tunnel Arch and Ring Arch. We followed the rangers instructions as best as possible, but the ground was so covered with snow it was difficult to find the defined trail. We ended up playing hopscotch from one patch of snow to the next to avoid destroying the cryptobiotic soil for portions of the hike.
It was about a five mile round trip hike. The payoff was not worth the large potions of bush whacking (again, not nearly as kinky as it sounds) it required and I don’t think we will do this hike again.
When we stopped for lunch, my feet were soaking and I had blisters, but with two hikes still to go, I bandaided up and carried on.
The second hike was a short one and a half mile round trip, through a very snowy hike into The Devils Garden to see Landscape Arch. The crampon’s were lifesavers on this hike.
It was beautiful! Breathtaking actually. It’s hard to describe the pure magicalness of it all. Most people associate Moab with warm weather and dessert scenery. To see it snow covered is such a rarity and it may sound funny to say, but I feel privileged to have been able to see it.
The final hike for our Moab trip is always to Delicate Arch. A semi-grueling three mile hike to see one of the most well known arches of Utah.
Even though the trail was icy in parts, muddy in others; and in spite of the fact I had blisters and was more than a little exhausted from the previous 16 or so miles, I still had to run down the Delicate Arch trail back to the car. Just like I did last year.
People look at you like you are crazy when you are running full speed down a sandstone trail, completely unable to stop, yelling at them to MOVE OUT OF THE WAY, but the feeling is so exhilarating I just flat out didn’t care. I ran. Down the sandstone, through the mud, across the bridge, to finally collapse in the back of a truck bed with a huge smile on my beet red face.
When the rest of the group got back to the cars, we all had a beer in the parking lot to toast another year of amazing hiking.
To say I love my hiking group and the time I spend with them is an understatement of mass proportions.
How many days until next years adventure?
PS – For more pictures of my Moab adventure check out my Flickr page.