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Sunday, July 22: Mesa Verde to Canyonlands / Needles

Tuesday, July 24: Canyonlands to Moab

Monday, July 23: Canyonlands / Needles

Sporadic rain

We’re one month into the trip. Today was sort of a quiet day. Unfortunately, as I expected, the trails here do not lead to “something” and so hold less interest for Mike. He also is uncomfortable with the heat, which makes him less interested in doing “work” (i.e. hiking).

Today has been the usual scattered thunderstorms. You could be in one spot and stay perfectly dry, or you could be a few miles away and get deluged.

We got to bed late last night, so we ended up getting up early. We visited the visitor’s center, then hiked the Cave Spring trail. It featured a fair amount of hiking under an overhang, which made me think of it as the “subway”. It was appreciated in the hot sun.

“Subway” section of Cave Spring Trail
Cactus along Cave Spring Trail

We saw a web, and Amy and Mike saw a black widow spider, red hour-glass and all, but it had hid by the time I tried to see it.

We then drove to Elephant Hill, which is impassible except for the most ardent 4-wheeler. I would love to hike from there through Chesler Park and the Joint Trail, like I did 25 years ago, but while I know that I’m up for it, and Amy is probably up for it, Mike would not be up for it, at least mentally.

We had lunch, accompanied by loud booms over the Needles. After eating, Amy and I wanted to hike up to the top of Elephant Hill to see the Needles, but Mike was not interested. So he stayed back at the car.

Twenty five years ago, I think we hiked along the road, but this time we hiked on the hiking trail. It went steeply up, but not that far, and then flattened out. We climbed to the top of a large boulder and got some good view of the Needles, with dark menacing clouds behind them. We could see the rain and occasional lightning.

Trail over Elephant Hill
Lightning over Needles
Trail over Elephant Hill

Feeling a few drops, we decided that it was time to head back. I was wondering if we were going to make it before the rain caught us, but it never seemed to get any nearer. We never bothered with rain gear.

We drove to Pothole Point, where again Amy and I hiked the trail and Mike sat in the car. We found only one pothole with water in it. We got a few raindrops, but not many. We could see bits of rain all around us, however. Strangely, the big dark cloud over the Needles didn’t seem to have moved.

Weathered Rocks at Pothole Point
Rainfall from Pothole Point

We weren’t sure that we wanted to risk hiking the Slickrock trail (longer at a mile or two in length), so we skipped it for now. Amy had noticed firewood at the campsite next to ours, so all Mike could think of was to get back to camp, and grab the wood, so we could have a fire later. So we drove back, got some ice creams, and returned to camp.

We found that as opposed to us in our travails, the campsite had been deluged. There were puddles everywhere and runoff erosion. The tent footprint was waterlogged, and the bottom of the tent was wet.

So we ended up emptying out the tent, removing the footprint, tipping the tent to dry out the bottom, and hanging up the footprint to let it dry out.

One advantage of the dry climate is that things dry out quickly.

In the time it has taken to type this, the footprint is already dry. We just need to brush it off, and set up the tent away from the fire pit, and we should be set.

But while we were drying out stuff, we had all of the tent stuff piled up on a large rock about six feet from the picnic table, where we were sitting. Mike had a package of gummy candy there. While we were sitting and talking, a squirrel snuck up to the rock and proceeded to attack the gummies. Amy suddenly noticed this and yelled. The squirrel ran off, but with one gummy in his mouth, the prize of his audacity.

Our plan is to have an earlier dinner, play on the butte again, but get to bed earlier, so we can get up earlier. Then we will either head off to Arches, or do some hiking and then head off to Arches.

 - -

So much for peace and quiet tonight. This place started really hopping around dinner time. A number of RV’s came in, including one just to one side of us. There are also some people tenting on the other side. This night won’t be nearly as quiet and peaceful as last night.

We cooked hot dogs and toasted buns over a wood fire, and we heated up beans on the stove. Then after cleaning up, we explored the butte some more. We pretty much established a “standard route” up to “our side” of the butte. On the way down, we tried to find an easier way, but it didn’t end up any easier. Looking back at the “standard way”, we were amazed at how steep it looked. But the new way looked worse, so we went back to the “standard way” and found it to be easier each time we went along it.

Puddles on the Butte
Campsite from Butte

There is rain all around us. I wouldn’t be surprised if it rains again tonight. Hopefully our neighbors won’t be making noise until late.

As the sun was setting, the bats came out. They were dancing in the air just over our heads, sometimes only a few feet over our heads. They were neat to watch.

Amy had wanted a shower earlier, and so we bought a shower token, but by nightfall, she had changed her mind. So just before going to bed, I took a shower. The water was pretty cool, I could barely tell the difference between the hot and cold taps, but it felt good to be clean and not sticky as I went to bed.

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Sunday, July 22: Mesa Verde to Canyonlands / Needles

Tuesday, July 24: Canyonlands to Moab