I Once Was Lost... Again

Needles District, Hike #2: Druid Arch via Elephant Hill 11 miles

Let’s just start off by saying that I should never be allowed to navigate anything: an atlas, a road trip, a relationship, or yes, a hike.  My sister, parents and husband (as well as most friends) could tell you that my sense of direction is just terrible.  You’d be better off consulting a street map of the wrong city altogether than letting me guide you around my own neighborhood.  But sometimes, C lets me feel important by giving me the reigns for a bit.  Unfortunately, he chose the wrong day to let his crazy wife steer the ship.

We began our hike from Elephant Hill (a correction to my previous hike entry, which actually began at Big Spring Canyon Overlook).  From there we set off toward Druid Arch, a cool rock feature that is accessible by following a network of trails that trace a number of river washes in surrounding finger canyons.  This place was a total maze of deep crevices and lots of random footprints, reasons that are not a complete defense, but at least makes me feel less foolish and slightly more reasonable.

I started things off with a bang.  Rather than follow the given (read: boooring) route that would lead is to the arch in a generally direct path, I subconsciously chose to take us for a scenic detour, though an area called Chesler Park, following a 3.1 mile loop through an open valley, which was really very pretty.  We were still following signs for the arch, and were still headed in the “right” direction, but in a flash of irony, we found ourselves moseying down the path in Chesler Park in almost a complete ring. Were we going in circles? Of course not.  I laughed it off as someone’s bad attempt at trail design.  Clearly their fault.

We did make our way to the arch eventually.  It took us a little longer because not only did we add this Chesler Park deviation to the hike, but we also managed to follow some ghost tracks up a river wash for around a half hour before finding the real trail again.  When we reached the Druid, we scrambled up past the trail terminus, which offered a stunning view of the arch (pictured above) to a totally unnecessary perch high on the cliff above, all because we followed some stray, misleading cairns.  This is not a part of the world in which to mess with people’s cairns.  Come on.

So, 14.1 miles later, we arrive back at our car and returned to our sweet home in the desert.  By this time, we were verrry grimy - coated in the accumulated dust and sweat of the last four days.  So we did the only thing a pair of desperate hikers could do.  Remember those water jugs I mentioned in an earlier post?  And the campsite that was nestled in among some boulders?  Well, there was a small slit in the rocks behind our fire pit, with a dark space deep enough that we were mostly out of the line of sight of our friends and neighbors.  

So, we showered, one by one, by holding water jugs in the air.  It was hilarious and terrifying and cold, but we emerged refreshed and clean, which was worth every awkward glance we received from the older man and woman one site over.

This was one mistake I could live with.

1 comment:

  1. You would think seeing a two signs, approximately 3 miles apart that both said "Druid Arch - 4.1 miles" would have been a warning flag worth heading, but no -- we confidently marched on thinking the signs must be wrong. Yikes... confidence in the wrong hands is a scary thing.


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