Canyonlands National Park/Druid Arch Hike

Trip Start May 05, 2009
Trip End May 10, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Utah
Saturday, May 9, 2009

We awoke early and headed out to Canyonlands National Park in Utah. The drive into the park was so incredible. We decided to take a 11 mile round trip hike in the Needles District. We had to drive for several miles down a gravel road to get to the trail head. The rock formations were so unusual. Each turn in the road brought new and increasing fantastic views. The hike we were about to embark upon was labeled moderate. After hiking the Druid Arch trail, I would rank it moderate to strenuous but I am old. The trail began with beautiful views of the rock formations and some blooming cactus. We stopped so often to take pictures I was not sure we could finish the trail today. The mileage seemed much longer than the 5.5 miles to Druid Arch. There was a lot of scrambling over scree and a ladder to climb in order to reach the top. There was very little shade as we hiked and hardly a cloud in the sky. The temperatures were in the low to mid 70's but with the sun barring down it seemed much warmer. I can not imagine doing this hike in August.  We walked in some very soft sand in the dry river bed. But the VIEWS the AWESOME VIEWS! The rock formations were spectacular. The Druid Arch area afforded us uncomparable scenery. We got a much closer view of the Needles which are the multi colored rock formations you will see in our photos. It is amazing to think that the power of water can create such beauty. It was so hard to leave this beautiful spot but we needed to hike another 5.5 miles to the car. The trail was sometimes hard to follow and park service marks the trails with cairns (stacks of rocks piled on top of each other). We made the switch from walking in the river bed to the climb out of the canyon and about mile in, Will heard someone calling for help. We walked along the ridge and saw a young man in the river bed who, had been lost for 3 hours without water. He had missed the marker from the riverbed to the trail that ran up from the canyon. We told him to walk the other direction in the riverbed and Will ran down into the canyon with water to meet him. He made sure the young man was hydrated and then walked back up the canyon with him to where we were waiting. He stayed with us until we reached the parking lot. He was camping with some friends at the Needles Outpost Campground but decided to do this trail alone. They got worried and were at the parking area when he arrived. The sun was starting to set and the colors of the rock formations seemed to change. The colors seemed brighter. This has to be one of the most beautiful places I have seen. We all were tired and ready for a bath and a good nights sleep.

Kevin's notes: On our way out of Canyonlands we stopped to take some photos of the rocks at dusk. Becky was driving, while I was holding the camera looking for some shots. I noticed movement in the road and turned my head to see a jackrabbit crossing the road. Becky and I said, "pretty rabbit". The jackrabbit was heading across the road and would have made it if it had not freaked out. Instead of continuing across the road it turned parallel with the car IN OUR LANE! It started weaving and bobbing as it tried to cross the road and Becky made the same movements. It was like they were in sync, ever move by the bunny was duplicated by Becky. Now understand Becky wouldn't hurt a flea. As we got closer to the rabbit, Becky got more vocal and every turn she made was mirrored by Bugs bunny. One final move by the bunny sealed it's fate as the 16 inch Goodyear's won the battle of bob and weave. Should have taken a left at Albuquerque!
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