- I am NOT 18 anymore.
- When hiking in the desert, bring water.
- Sunscreen is not just for your mom.
We arrived in Moab, Utah to blue skies and the nice 90-degree heat of early afternoon. Canyonlands is a park that is naturally divided into three districts, each carved out by the Green or Colorado River: Island in the Sky, The Needles, and The Maze. We started our trip in the Island in the Sky district, which only has one small campground (Willow Flat) of 12 sites. This was full when we arrived, so we drove our hot little Dodge Caliber over to the Horsethief Campground, which is operated by the Bureau of Land Management. Mercifully, the BLM runs a slew of campgrounds surrounding Canyonlands and Arches National Park, all for 10 to 15 bucks a night, which in my book, is as close to free as you can get. And I’m all about that, because as we know, less money spent on lodging means that the dinner budget can expand a little. And I like to eat, so this is good.
Day One: Murphy Loop, 8.5 miles. Mother Nature is an evil mistress.
For a day hike, 8.5 miles really isn’t bad. Sure, this was one of the longer trails in the district, but still, it should have been very doable. This is where I experienced realization #1: I am not 18. I can’t suddenly expect my body to be able to descend then ascend 1000 or so feet in 75 yards without doing so much as a few sit-ups in preparation. Well, I can’t expect to enjoy it anyway. This was compounded by truth #2: When hiking in the desert, bring water. The National Parks Service recommends carrying/drinking at least a gallon of water per person, per day. At least. So I guess carrying a Nalgene for each of us and a 16 oz. Dasani to share was a serious misstep. I can’t believe how rookie this makes us seem. The truth hurts.
Sunscreen is also an important friend in the desert. It’s particularly true when you are from the Arctic Circle and your skin tone resembles the bottom side of a paper plate. Well, friends, it doesn’t anymore. No sir.
Somehow I survived the first day, probably due only to the gentle prodding of my husband (read: I was allowed a break after every ten steps or so) and the depressing thought of black widow spiders and vultures picking away at my dehydrated body lying in some dried up river wash somewhere. Also, I never, ever want to have to drink my own urine. For these reasons, I managed to trudge my way up the cliff face back to the car… slower than a slug on a lamppost.
Since I had designed our trip itinerary, I fell asleep that night knowing that this was the shortest hike I had planned, and that the sunburn I had acquired would only feel worse after another day in the scathing heat. But despite all this, if you had asked me if this was the best vacation ever, I’m pretty sure I would have said yes.
I love this sort of thing.