Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Utah National Parks Tour

Heather, my good friend who lives in Salt Lake City, bought a camper trailer and asked if I would come out and use it with her...YES!  So we decided to hit up some beautiful national parks on our week long tour.  It is beautiful country out there!  Click here to check out the GoPro preview!

I landed in Salt Lake City, we ate lunch, hitched up the trailer, and within a few hours were on the road.  The truck gets about 10 miles/gallon lugging our luxurious headquarters, but it is well worth it!  We got a little sidetracked but made it to Zion National Park in good time.  We set up in a nice little RV park and relaxed in paradise.

The next day we awoke after sleeping in a BED, not on the ground!  And there is running water, a shower, and a toilet!  Lap of luxury!  We ate some breakfast and got on the tram to the park.  We got off at the last stop to hike The Narrows.  It turned out to be one of the most incredible day hikes I've ever done.  I HIGHLY recommend it! 

We hiked through a river the whole time and enjoyed the fresh water amid the steep sandstone canyon walls.  Heather had a knee brace, but hiked like a champ against the current.  Everywhere you looked was beautiful, steep, and dramatic.  There were slot canyons to explore with beautiful blue water moving through.  It was incredible.

The next day we woke early to hike the intimidating Angel's Landing.  This is one of the most popular hikes in the park.  It is very steep at the top and is difficult to get to, hence its name.  It becomes even more difficult as the crowds fill in, making passing on the narrow and steep trail dangerous.  There are chains to help hikers from falling off the side, which proved to be helpful!  We managed to hike it early enough to avoid most of the crowds.  It's kinda funny in national parks- people don't wake up very early.  As long as you begin your hike before 9:00, you'll beat the crowds!

When we got back to camp, we packed up and headed toward Lake Powell, a lake created by damming the Colorado River at the Glen Canyon Dam.  We traveled through a tunnel with traffic stopped by the rangers so we could pass through safely! 
We made it to Lake Powell and set up camp on Lone Rock Beach.  You just pick a spot on the beach and settle in.  It was very much a spring breaker scene, but it had great views!  And we met a couple from Australia who had traveled the road in their outdoor adventure vehicle.  Traveling is a bug that never stops nagging you!

It was here at Lake Powell that we planned a helicopter ride with Heather's employer.  She's a flight nurse and gets a family/friend flight once a year.  We were getting a free ride to see the lake from above!  Aaron, aka Sky Ninja, was our pilot.  With 20 years of military and combat experience, Sky Ninja knew what he was doing.  It was a wild ride!  We saw a natural sky light and drove 145 mph over the ground; then the ground dropped away to the lake, just like in an IMAX movie!  I really wanted to see dinosaurs like in Jurassic Park running below me.  Sky Ninja landed on top of a cliff and near the lake.  That's what he really has to do when there is a rescue.  After we landed, the crew got a legit call for search and rescue.  It's an incredible job and I'm grateful I got to experience a little bit of Heather's reality!

After our amazing flight we left town and headed toward Moab.  On the way we visited Horseshoe Bend, a funky part of the Colorado River that goes around a rock instead of through it!

We got to our RV spot in Moab and Heather had to back the trailer in, which was a challenging task.  Eventually our neighbor came over to do it for us; we didn't really ask him to, must have been a man thing.  Two of Heather's friends came by and Jen wanted spaghettios, but we could not find a can opener.  We did, however, have a mallet and screwdriver.

The next day we went into town and had breakfast.  By the time we meandered into Canyonlands National Park it was noon, nearing the hottest part of the day.  We decided to hike an 8.5 mile loop around a crater, although we did not see that crater until the very end of the hike.  There was a warning sign explaining that the trail is easy to lose and is for advanced hikers.  We'll be fine!  It was the most grueling hike ever.  We ran into a family backpacking out of the area and they looked like they desperately wanted to reach the parking lot.  We understood their pain toward the end of our own hike.  The trail was steep and dusty with few views of the actual canyonlands.  But we pushed on in the hot sun and ran into a trail runner, yes a man running the whole trail, along the way.  It was a challenging hike, but physically rewarding.  The clouds finally moved in overhead and we reached the air conditioned car.


We drove to a viewpoint so we could actually see the beauties of the park.  It is aptly named.  The whole southwest is full of grandness and spectacular views.

The next day we did it right and were out the camp door at 6:30am to head to Arches National Park.  No one was in the park and we headed straight to the back of it to Devil's Garden.  It was about a 7 mile loop, but it was flatter and cooler, so we were able to enjoy it a little more.  We saw a variety of arches.  At Double O arch, a tall skinny man seemingly came out of the bushes.  It honestly freaked me out a little bit, as you never know who might be living out here in no man's land.  We saw him intermittently, but we seemed to lose him at a roadblock in the trail.  It had been raining quite a bit in Utah and part of the trail between two large rock faces was submerged.  We had to creatively, and a little dangerously, find a detour above the rock.  We did and felt very accomplished!

We left Arches and Moab and headed back to Salt Lake City where we cleaned out the trailer and relaxed at Heather's house.  My flight left the next day in the evening, leaving us plenty of time to get a good mountain bike run in at Park City

I definitely miss the big grand adventures that the mountainous west has to offer, but I have wonderful things in my life here in Kentucky too.  Many of my friends, and even family, are shocked to see me back in the Midwest, but I have a job I enjoy, a boyfriend I love, my family and my now healthy nephew nearby.  I am grateful I was home when my nephew was sick to help and be there.  Life's epic journey continues, just in different ways.


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