Rainbows, Lightning Storms, & Waterfalls

Trip Start Feb 28, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Utah
Friday, June 19, 2009

What a weekend!  Towards the end of last week Silas and I had been trying to decide what we were going to do on the weekend. Originally we were thinking about camping in Indian Creek, but then the weather wasn't looking so great, so we decided we were just going to drive down there and hike in the Needles part of Canyonlands for the day.  BUT then on Friday we decided that we were going to go up to the Island in the Sky part of Canyonlands near Moab instead, and it wasn't until about 7pm that we decided that we were going to camp after all.  So then we spent the next hour or so trying to get everything together.  We ended up forgetting several things (spatula...cheese for our burgers...bacon for Silas' burger...) but this ended up working out in Silas' favor.  I'm actually starting to suspect that maybe it was intentional...more on this later.
  So we left here at about 8:00 on Saturday morning and we got to Moab just after 9:00- we made a couple quick stops for gas and to drop off our recycling (although it's a pain to have to try to remember to bring our recycling when we go to Moab or Cortez, they both take glass- which is awesome since they didn't in Missoula)  
  We got to Canyonlands at about 10:00 and found out that it was free this weekend! (for Father's Day)  We actually have an annual pass so we don't have to pay anyway.  Well, I guess we DID pay- it's about $80 for an annual pass- but then it's good for a year for unlimited visits to any national park or monument.  I'm trying to count... I think so far since we got it in March we've used it 9 times to get into national parks and 6 times at national monuments, so it's definitely paid for itself already.  But anyway, we thought that was pretty cool that they had free entry for the weekend. 
  We made a quick stop at the visitor center...and and even quicker exit.  Sorry to say, but we voted it the most disappointing national park visitor center that we've been too thus far.  This brought up the topic of BEST national park visitor center- I think the Prarie Creek Visitor Center in Redwood National Park was the winner with Crater Lake coming in a close second.  
  We had decided to do an 8 mile loop hike at* Upheaval Dome.  Notice the asterisk...I really had to think about how to word that.  Let me tell you what I was EXPECTING from the descriptions of the hike that I read in multiple books. 
I was expecting the trail to go around the dome/crater. 
I was expecting views into the dome/crater from the trail.
I was expecting (as described in hiking guide #1) 'One of the most popular trails in Canyonlands'
I was expecting (as described in hiking guide #2) 'the closest thing to a moonscape on earth that you may ever see.'
  Now let me tell you what I saw.  Nothing.  Well, not NOTHING, but not the crater.  There was not a single view into the crater from any point on the hike.  8 miles and NOT ONE view into the crater.  AND we even did the 1.5 mile (3 miles roundtrip!!!) hike into the crater once we were at the bottom of the canyon and I still didn't feel like I was seeing anything that matched the descriptions I had read.  Oh yeah, and we didn't see a single person- usually we like that, but to not see anyone on 'one of the most popular trails in Canyonlands' on a weekend with free entry?  Very weird.
  So our hike ended up being 11 miles total- it rained off and on most of the hike, we got ATTACKED by mosquitoes. (I counted 12-13 bites on ONE of Silas' calves!!) We (mostly Silas since he was in the lead) also got buzzed by countless cicadas- yuck!  I'm not positive that they were cicadas- I don't know if they have them around here, but they were very similar to the cicadas in Japan- loud and gross!  It wasn't TOTALLY miserable, but based on the descriptions I had read, I was disappointed with the hike.  There, I said it- I'm not saying anything else about the hike!
  By the time we finished our hike we were exhausted and STARVING!  We were wishing that we had already got our camp site and set everything up so that we could just go back to it and crash, but that would have required us thinking ahead, so we were out of luck.  BUT we were happy to see that there were open sites at the campground, so we set up the tent and got food going in record time.  As I mentioned earlier, we had forgotten several things- and at that point we were so hungry that instead of just having plain burgers, we took the cheese off our sandwiches for the next day to put on our burgers and we also used the bacon that was supposed to be for breakfast and I'm glad we did- we were starving!
  After dinner Silas suggested we drive out to some of the viewpoints to watch the sunset.  From about the last mile or two of our hike up until then it had totally cleared up and was hot and sunny, but as we were on our way to the viewpoints some clouds started rolling in from the west.  Between the sunset and the coulds, the lighting was completely changing by the second...and then all of a sudden there was a rainbow...and then the lighning started.  I insisted that we sit in the car to watch it, but there were quite a few people standing out at the viewpoints watching.  I have never seen lightning like that- a few times it was like the lighning was coming up from the ground and then branching out across the sky.  It was so beautiful...but a little scary since we were up so high.
  The next morning we got up and had our usual breakfast (minus the bacon) and coffee, then we went BACK to Upheaval Dome.  I wanted to give it one last chance to redeam itself, so we were going to walk out to the overlook and see if maybe we'd actually be able to see something that we hadn't been able to see during out 11 mile hike.  Yep, the viewpoint was MUCH better.  Anyone who might be going there- skip the hike, just go to the overlook, it's much more scenic.
  After FINALLY seeing Upheaval Dome we headed back to Moab for a short hike up Mill Creek Canyon.  One of Silas' co-workers who lives in Moab had told him that it's kind of the local swimming hole.  It was a short hike up to a small waterfall with a swimming hole underneath it.  There were several people there, but they were all up on top so we went down to the bottom and took a nice cool dip.  It wasn't until we were on our way back to the car that we saw that there were crawdads in the water!  Yuck!  I'm so glad I hadn't seen them before we swam- I hate crawdads!  
  After our swim it was time for lunch.  This is what I was saying that I'm starting to get suspicious about.  Silas and I both LOVE eating out at restaurants, but we've really been trying to cut back lately.  So we packed sandwiches for lunch to save money, but then after we took the cheese out of them for our burgers they were kind of a sad looking lunch... SO... Silas suggested we eat out.  Hmmm....  was this all part of his plan to get to eat at a restaurant?  Maybe.  But either way we decided to go to one of our favorite restaurants in Moab- Pasta Jay's.  This place smells so good!!  We have a theory that they cook garlic in the back and pump the smell out onto the street- we can't resist the smell of that place!!  We had a delicious lunch (and leftovers for dinner) and then headed back home.  As much fun as we have on weekends, it's always so nice to come home!
PS...the sandwiches weren't wasted...we ate them for lunch today... 
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myamamoto on

Allison's Travel Guide
I seriously think you need to consider writing your own travel guide for the west. I mean, you've been lots of places, you've got lots of 'insider tips' and have hiked tons of miles...just a thought! Plus, you and Silas could collaborate--I love reading each of your versions of some of your trips.

This one had me laughing out loud. I think my favorite part was your list of expectations of Upheaval Dome. Your line about the crawdads gave me flashbacks to our childhood. I was seriously terrified of those things!

Glad you had fun...

syamamoto on

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who was terrified of crawdads--I remember needing somebody (usually Oliver) to do a sweep of the shallow part of the river and give me the all-clear before I got in. I also remember wearing those stupid water shoe things even though I hated them because I didn't want anything to touch my feet.

Sounds like you guys had fun! The food looks SO good! We need to go there when I come to visit :)

78ers on

Re: crawdads
We can definitely go there- whoever comes to visit better be ready to eat because we have tons of places that we want to take people!

alandjen on

Jerry Seinfeld
See, everything works out, just like episode of Seinfeld. The hike sucked, but then you got to see some cool lightening! That made it worth it, anyway. I agree, you should write a hiker's guide to southern Utah. It's really cool to read about all the details of your trip! You guys really cram alot of fun stuff into the too-short weekends!

syamamoto on

I've been mentally planning my visit around meals, serious. I know we've already talked about several places I want to eat or you want to go to. I mean, hiking and seeing ruins and whatnot will be fun, but I'm mostly in it for the food :)

mom717 on

Deep thoughts
I loved this entry and I think Silas should write his version of the story more often too.

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