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Moab, Utah with Conor and Will, Day 1, March 22, 2010

May 23, 2010

Posted May 23, 2010

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On a nice day, Sunday, March 21, 2010, quite early in the day, these

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wild

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and crazy

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and strange

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and, um, well, dudes

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went to the Moab, Utah area to do a little hiking.

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And some relaxing in the sun.

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And, just by chance, I turned 60 years of age in Moab, Utah.  Excellent place for such an event.
Great time.

It all started soon after the first of the year, 2010.
“Well, dad, I can probably come out to visit after my quarter is over.  Can we go to Paris?”
“Well, I’m not sure Conor.  Can you think of something a little closer to home?  Uh, and cheaper?”
“Sure, dad.  How about Cancun?”
“Yes, well that’s getting better.  Still a bit pricey.”
“Well, I don’t know dad.  Where would you like to go?”
“Uh, how about Moab?”
Silence.
“You still there, Conor?”
“Oh, heh, yeah.  Sure.  Sorry, must be a bad phone connection.  Almost sounded like you said “Moab”.  Funny, huh?”
“I did say Moab.  We can, umm, go hiking.”
“Gee, that sounds really, uh, fun, dad.”
“And we can get a motel room right in downtown and walk to breakfast and dinner each day.  Beer will taste pretty good after hiking all day.  Also, since it may be spring break for some colleges, we might see some females.”
“That’s AWESOME, dad.  Lets go!”

So, it didn’t really go like that.

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Before I go any further in the trip’s description, here is my standard comment. Please check my photo galleries here for all the larger and higher quality photos for this trip. The photos in the gallery are a quantum leap in size and quality compared to the little teaser photos I put in this site’s trip narrative (and there are more of them). In addition, I have two other links that will help locate the area if you are interested in making the hike yourself. A Google Earth map can be found here. Use the scale bar on the left side of the Google map to help zoom in or out to help locate the area based on where you live. (If you want to see all my trips, this link will direct you to a Google map that shows ALL my trips.) In order to help you with the actual trail itself, you can use this link to view a topo map (care of the Google map set for “terrain”) note that all links open a new browser window.

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Actually, all my kids like the Moab, Utah area.  Some more than others, but Conor was quite happy to go and my other son, Will, volunteered to go with us and keep us out of trouble.  We were about 2 weeks too early to catch the actual beginning of the spring season for Moab (trees with leaves, flowers, uh, and, umm, other pretty things), but that meant that we didn’t have to fight any crowds in town, either.
We made a quick detour to Walden, Colorado to see Kate and mom.  It was my mom’s birthday, so worked out really good.  She hadn’t seen Conor for a while, so we had a great visit.  Kate stuffed us full of some tasty breakfast burritos and both Kate and mom gave us enough bread, cookies, cake, and other assorted food items to keep us alive for approximately 783 years.

We got into Moab around 6 or 7 pm and found our room.  Great location and service at the Bowen Motel.  After we checked into our room, we walked downtown to get a bite to eat.  Ended up at the Moab Brewery.  Nice casual bar area you can sit and eat in with a larger “family” area available.  Some very good locally brewed stout.
Unfortunately, I don’t like carrying my big Nikon around town and taking photos (I’ll get a small camera one of these days), so no photos from me showing the town.  Suffice it to say, I like Moab enough to consider moving there some day after I retire (in approximately 23 years or more : ).  At least, it’s under serious consideration along with a handful of other places.

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In addition to the Google map link above, below is a Microsoft Live map. The red tack shows the general location of the trail from Fort Collins, CO. You can click on the map to bring it up in a “live” mode and zoom in or out (and move the map around) to get more detail.

Map image

Anyway, I got up fairly early the next day, walked across the street to a espresso stop (great coffee, great price, and opens early : ).  Got back in the motel and starting making hints to Conor and Will that breakfast was waiting.

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It took a while, but they actually got up fairly quickly (and moderately good humor for that time of the day : ) and all of us went to get some breakfast at the Jailhouse Cafe.  Great food and only a few yards from the motel.
After a great breakfast, we headed out of town to Southern Canyonlands.  It’s about an hour and a half drive to the park entrance.  Normally I would have enjoyed the drive because the scenery is great.  But, I was very eager to hit the trail.  It’d been way too long.  Plus, I think I might have had too much coffee.
I took some time to visit the ranger station, mostly to check out their restroom.  But also to see if the trails were ok.  They’d had snow the prior week and I was making sure this hadn’t impacted the trails.  Nope, all trails were fine.  So, eventually, we made it to the Chesler Park trail head located at Squaw Flat campground area.  I’d been on this trail before, but neither Will nor Conor had hiked it.

So, come on dad, what are you waiting for?

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This situation, waiting on dad, was the norm for the trip.  It wasn’t as much as I couldn’t keep up, but that I had to keep taking photos (well, that’s my excuse : ).  I did restrain myself from my normal picture taking craziness because I was pretty sure that hiking at one mile per hour would drive my sons crazy.  But, I got some good photos and they didn’t go crazy.  Worked out just fine : )
Crap.  Waiting on dad again.  Might as well take a photo of him taking a photo of  me.

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Now, I have to admit, after a long winter (way too long) of not picking up my camera I was a little rusty in the “how to use this camera” area.  It meant I missed some of my exposures (too light) and some of my focus areas (didn’t get the focus on the correct part of the picture), but they turned out good enough.

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And, most importantly, the hiking with Will and Conor was fun.

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The scenary was kinda nice, also.

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And, as Conor reflected, the weather was quite nice and the air was very clean and clear.
Zoom.

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The neat thing about Canyonlands, or, this type of hiking in Utah and other places with similar geography, is the variety.  It’s always different terrain and views.

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Fun stuff.

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The trail curves around this ridge.  Conor and Will are up ahead someplace.  Note that on the way back we saw a family hiking up here.  Along with a 5 or 6 year old girl.  So, pretty nice for family hiking.  But, obviously, you need to exercise a little caution.  There are no fences.

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Up

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and over.

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Of course, when you top out on the rim, the views are very nice.  The hike to Chesler Park goes through those “needles” in the far distance.

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So, over there, huh?

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I was continually looking back at the far La Sal mountains.  Cool place.  Even in the summer you can hike up into the aspens far above Moab.

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Because of the earlier snow storm, there was actually flowing water here and there.  A couple of weeks from now, this much water would mean an abundance of wild flowers.  But, we were here just before spring time.

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Still, very nice to see water in this type of an arid environment.

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Without people.

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Like I said, fun places for a hike.

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King of the mountain : )  Notice the little cairn (pile of rocks) below Conor’s left hand?  Those are important to keep track of.  Part of the time it’s very easy to see the trail.  But, it certain areas, the exact location of the trail is difficult to determine.  So, if you are in an area where the trail is going over bare rock, it’s a good idea to keep track of those cairns.  If you don’t see one, STOP.  And look for the trail to make sure you are actually on it.

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Moving along.  You can see Will up ahead. He’s taking a little side track onto a big rock.  This is a great area to explore around the rims.  You can’t hurt anything sense it’s all bare rock.  Just need to be a little cautious.

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Zoom.

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Well, they both made it to the top of the rock.

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Here is what they looked like NOT zoomed in.

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And, away we go.  We stayed on a rim for quite some time here.  Pretty neat.

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Zoom in a little.  You can see a little snow hanging on the distant cliffs.

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Not sure what made this.

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Closer look.  Looked pretty natural.  That is, not sprayed on the dirt.

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Neat rock.

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Coming around to a different view.

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More

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Looking back at a neat “nubbin” in the distance.  This is zoomed.

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Always fun coming up to a “wall” cause you never can tell exactly how you are going to get over it…

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Until you get there…….

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Zooom in a little.

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Conor using the chiseled-into-the-rock steps.

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Detail.  Makes it pretty easy.  The first step is a bit of a stretch for a small child.  So, some of these places you might have to give them a hand up a bit.  Always making sure they don’t take off before you get up : )  Great place for younger kids, but it could be a little nerve wracking.

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Canyonlands.  And the mountains.  Moab is located right near the left hand end of the mountains in the distance.

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This was on the other side.  Conor is sorta in the middle of the photo at the edge of the dropoff  And Will is already most of the way down (but I’m not sure where : )  From a distance it can look intimidating (if you’ve never been in this kind of country before).  But closer up……………..

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It’s really not that bad.

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Uh, come along dad.  You can’t take photos all day or we’ll never get to where we’re going.

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Of course, this is a really bad hike if you are prone to tripping a lot.  Because if you stumble and fall on the wrong part of the trail, it can be a while before you come to a stop.

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There is quite a deep pool down in the bottom of that gulley.  If it’s hot, it’s a great place to take a break.  It wasn’t hot today at all, but it was still a nice place to take a break.

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Zoom

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Zoom again.  There is also a little water fall that you can see once you get there.

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Now you see him……….

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Now you don’t…………..

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Taking a break while dad takes photos.

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Messing around in a little slot

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Sans people

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Exit……

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About to thread the needle…….finally……….

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And there’s the passageway into Mordor.  Oh, wait.  Wrong story : )  Actually, through that gap is Chesler Park.  I want to say something at this time.  And that is these photos do a poor justice to what we were seeing.  I mean, you could just spend every foot of the way looking around and going “Wow!”  Or, that’s how it seemed to me.  And, it was soooooo clear.

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Zoom some.  Those are pretty large “gates” on either side.  Also, I think there are some people in the area of the pass, but they would be about the size of an ant : )  Pretty massive.

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Oh, look.  Snow.  Might as well put it to good use.  It was strange seeing the snow.  The temperature was quite pleasant.  It will be all gone in another day or two.

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You can see the snowball in mid-air.  I can’t remember if it hit Will or not.

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Right after you travel through the portal, I mean the needles, this is what you see.  After all the miles of hiking through the tight canyons and rims to get here, it’s a pretty darn neat sight.  Much nicer than what you can tell from my photos.

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Coming, dad?

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Looking out towards the middle of Chesler Park.

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Zoom at some of the distant rock formations.  I made a little mistake in my camera settings and it over exposed it quite a bit.  But, you can get an idea of the country out there.

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Meanwhile, the trail we want heads off to the left side of all that.  Right towards that distant range of cliffs.  Those little peaky things sitting out in the middle will be on our right as we go past them.

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Conor looking out at all the rocks.  Also, we were kinda wondering where Will went to.  But, figured he’d turn up eventually.

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We’re headed over to the edge of those rocks and then our trail turns to the left and goes back into the Needles and out of Chesler Park.

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Conor and Will play around in the slot on the way back.

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So, we left Chesler Park and headed back to the car.  Taking a slightly different way back was fun.  Although, by that time my feet were beginning to indicate that the new boots were not quite adjusted to the feet as of yet.  But, the environment was such that I was able to ignore the tired feet and just enjoy the hike back.
Some people had a good time leaving a few extra cairns.  Conor added one also.

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Other than birds, lizards were the most abundant wildlife that we saw on the trails.  At least during the day.  I did see some fresh deer tracks.  Nice horned toad.

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Hmmmm.   Yep, the mountains were still there on the way back.

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Will liked the crawl through the hole route.

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Closer view.

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Took time to try for something artistic.

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Another direction (different pool : )

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Shadows are getting longish.

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Zoom a little.

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Seeing water in the desert is so cool.

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Even from a distance.

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So, we got back to the car and headed to Moab for some well deserved “refreshments”.  But, darn it.  Dad kept stopping to take photos.  I don’t think it upset Will or Conor.  Too much : )
Sun was heading down.

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Zoom.

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Awesome vistas.

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And, we saw hundreds of deer on the drive to the park entrance.  Mostly in large herds.  And mostly right around, or across, the road : )  So, pays to be a little cautious.

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Well, that’s day 1.  I need to work on day 2 still.  And that includes a lot of photos that Will and Conor took using my small Olympus camera.

– Geoff Weatherford

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 24, 2010 3:02 am

    I don’t have words to describe how much I enjoyed seeing your photos.

    Just WOW! 🙂

    • May 29, 2010 3:37 pm

      Appreciate the feedback. We had a great time there and the photos don’t really do it justice. If you ever get the time (and an little money : ), I highly recommend spending time in the area.

      Thanks,

      Geoff Weatherford

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