Winter in the Desert - 2013 travel blog

arch panorama

blind curve


close up





wooden shoe arch


Moab and the parks around it abound with young, physically fit folks, stimulating their adrenal glands. We'll be driving down a quiet two lane road and come upon a row of people staring up the steep sides of some buttes. When we join them in looking up, a contingent of rock climbers are hammering attachments into the rocks and scaling the steep sides. People mountain bike up 10% grade mountains and come careening down the other side over boulders as large as their tires. We also see bikers peddling away in the most remote spots carrying as much gear as you can carry on a bike going who knows where and who knows why. We've seen ads and billboards for white water rafting and hot air ballooning. Some of these activities end badly. The local news has been full of an incident where a young man jumped off an arch tied to a rope and crashed to his death because the rope was a little too long.

Today we went to the southern end of Canyonlands NP known as The Needles. It was a long drive there and we imagined we'd have the place pretty much to ourselves. We were wrong. We tried another 4-wheel drive road, not nearly as treacherous as the one we tried yesterday. It was too narrow for two cars to pass in most places and had many blind curves, but we didn't worry because we thought we had the road to ourselves. When we got to the end, we could not park because so many cars already were there. People go on long hikes here so the parking lots fill up fast and stay full for hours. It was painful to notice that most of the folks we see here are 30 - 40 years younger than we are.

The town and our campground are filling up with 4-wheel drive vehicles in preparation for a major rally this weekend. There will be at least 1,000 participants here, driving in groups through at least thirty different routes. There are pictures in the paper of jeeps from previous rallies tipped up on their noses, wedged between two large boulders. We've seen license plates as far away as Alaska and Alabama. Vendors are setting up huge trailers full of the accessories one needs to drive cross country around here. Although we do have a Jeep, it does not have the high clearance and short wheel base one needs to negotiate these trails. It's all pretty new to us.

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