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Canyonlands national park, UT
7th May 2008
Canyonlands national park, Utah

After some contemplation about the speed at which I am travelling, prompted in part by some emails I've received and by the bonus day I had in Albuquerque, I have decided to slow down somewhat.  It's particularly pertinent that I should do so at this time, because this part of my travels spans the parts I was most excited to see.  So my second day in Arches was a spur of the moment decision to extend my stay, and just this morning I decided to stay a second night in the Moab hostel.

Having been latched on to by a bizarre hostel guest (I think he has a screw lose) we went to Canyonlands National Park, just over the road from Arches.   This is a more impressive, though less beautiful, park, comprising mostly canyons and mesas, the occaisional monolith and an arch or two.   This park is split into two and my intention of seeing both halves in one day was dashed by the size of it.  So today I saw just the north half, the Island in the Sky area.  This is a mesa bounded by the Colorado and Green rivers.  It has really stunning canyons - dare I say it, more stunning than the Grand Canyon?  I'll write again on the comparison (which spans 13 years of my memory) next week.

One particularly impressive feature was a hike straight up a  butte, scrambling over the last vertical one metre very carefully:  this was the only time I have actually feared for my life while hiking, one tiny mistake and I would have slipped 500 feet down the side of the mesa.  Around the back of the plateau was a series of wind-etched passages, cut right into the vertical wall of the butte.  Here were situated several Ancestral Puebloan graneries, simple dry-mason walls holing-up the passage.  Their location was hardly convenient should the local sqaw have wished to bake an extra loaf if the Joneses pop round for tea.

I kept meeting the same people on my hikes.  Spanning three days and two national parks, I met four couples more than once.  In fact I met one group four times, and they even knew my name by the end of it.  On one occaision I met a couple on top of a mesa and chatting to them, givng them my standard recent history speil.  They said something like, "oh, you're the second Brit we've met from Atlanta, there was another guy who also lived in Sandy Springs who quit his job 4 weeks ago and jumped in the car, his name was Daniel."  We'd obvioulsy failed to recognise eachother on the second encounter, how embarassing.

I have been asked if I am tired yet.  Yes, in that I have been on the go nonstop for quite some time, and I miss just being able to veg-out in front of the TV.  No, in that I am not yet fatigued by the sights, although I think I have seen a lifetime's supply of arches.  On past adventures I saw too many churches, for example, and by the end I kinda tuned-out.  I've not reached that stage yet, but I am quite looking forward to the next city already.

I've just ditched my looney new friend (he accepted my challenge of walking over an arch that was on a clifftop, actually its base was on the cliff wall, meaning that as he walked he had a 1000 foot drop on either side) and am in the Moab library catching up on blogging. Tonight I will have some kind of enormous meal, a few beers in the hot tub, and then do the south half of Canyonlands tomorrow before heading towards Capital Reef national park.  I don't know where I'll stay yet, but may be offline for a few days.  Fear not.


Next: Canyonlands - The Needles; drive to Capitol Reef
Previous: Arches national park - 2nd day

Diary Photos

Canyonlands national park, UT

Mesa wall, Canyonlands national park, UT

Eroding mesa, Canyonlands national park, UT

Landscape, Canyonlands national park, UT

Mesa, Canyonlands national park, UT

Daniel at Upheaval Dome, Canyonlands national park, UT

Canyon, Canyonlands national park, UT

Mesa-side walkway, Canyonlands national park, UT

Puebloan granary, mesa top, Canyonlands national park, UT

Fool atop Mesa Arch, Canyonlands national park, UT

Daniel at Mesa Arch, Canyonlands national park, UT

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