Warrior Dash

I guess I should post something on a race I ran in a couple weeks ago.  My friend Daryl talked me into racing in Warrior Dash this year.  I went and watched a little last year and since then have wanted to do it.  Well he talked me into it .. but this was before I broke my arm.

When it came time to do the race, not only was I in a cast and hadn’t exercised in 5 weeks, but I had also just gotten out of a 22+ mile backpacking trip near Aspen, CO.  Of course this was my own doing, so I toughed it out and decided to run in the race I had already paid for.

Daryl, Myself, and Doug

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The race consisted of first running through a bunch of tires suspended by ropes, up over barricades, under barbed wire, trudging through a muddy pit under barbed wire, getting through a tangled web of bungee cords, crawling through some dark place, going over a teetering traverse, climbing over hurdles, crossing over a large net, climbing a cargo net then dropping off the other side, climbing up a rope, and finally jumping across some flames.

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After finishing the race (I was in the top 1/3 despite having a broken arm and not really trying hard to finish fast .. I just wanted to finish) I looked and felt like a freaking muddy mess.  After showering outside with 100+ other people (I stripped down to my underwear) and throwing away all my gym clothes. … they were too muddy and nasty to salvage.  I relaxed with some friends and had a couple beers to celebrate.

It was a really fun experience and I’m looking forward to next year.. where I’ll actually try to finish in a decent time .. and may even dress up!!

Snowmass Lake / Snowmass Mountain

Last week I took off some time to head to Aspen.  I wanted to hike to Conundrum Hot Springs  Snowmass Lake and summit Snowmass Mountain I arrived in Aspen on Tuesday right after sunset.  I had taken the back way up through Leadville and over Independence Pass which I would recommend to anyone.

My Mom and Brother arrived Wednesday night pretty late.  After taking some more pictures of the Maroon Bells on Thursday Morning we headed to the Conundrum Hot Springs trailhead.  It turns out that dogs (Zip) are not allowed in the upper valley by Conundrum Hot Springs and the campground.  So, we headed down to the Ranger station for the Aspen area to get some maps and figure out where to go next (They had previously told me over the phone that the only restrictions for dogs were you had to have them on a leash …. GRRR)

We decided on heading to Snowmass Lake and then summit Snowmass Mountain the second day.  So we headed to the Maroon – Snowmass trailhead up above Snowmass Village.  After getting our packs ready and getting Zip all geared up we headed out for the lake.

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The trail along the way was long (9 Miles) but sure was beautiful.  We passed quite a few horse riders and a few hikers but didn’t run into any large animals.   It was sort of disappointing to not see any Deer, Elk, or anything else.  We crossed over a big log jam and then headed up through some deep woods and after passing a few waterfalls we finally reached camp.

The views at the lake were stunning with the cliffs jutting out of the lake at the far end and some amazing peaks in the rear.  We set up camp and hung out until the mosquitos forced us to go in our tents.

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Friday Morning we woke up just before sunlight to try and get some decent pictures of the lake and peaks.  After grabbing some breakfast we made our way to the summit of Snowmass Mountain.  This turned out to be quite the damn hike.  The summit raises 3,000+ feet from the lake in under Two Miles.  So we were pretty much hiking straight up the mountain .. no switchbacks, no breaks.  Zip didn’t quite make it to the top.  He freaked out when the boulders got bigger than cars and the cracks between them you couldn’t see the bottom.  I had to push him up on a ledge then when I got up there with him he decided to run down where I had just pushed him up and kept wanting to go down.  So, I had to tie him up to a boulder and listen to him yelp as we left him for the summit.

After reaching the summit at last (Probably the hardest time I have had summiting a peak .. I was wore out) we headed back down to rescue my dog get back to camp.  We had tried to take a different route down but after making it part the way across a boulder field with most the boulders the sizes of cars … we decided to head back down the standard route.

That night and the next morning Zip was pretty much beat and dead to the world.  When I would try to get him to come out and be social he wouldn’t want to come out of the tent or get up.  When I would get him to get up he would sneak back to the tent and onto my sleeping bag as soon as I wasn’t paying attention.  I ended up feeling sorry for him and carrying his stuff back out for him.

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After getting back to the trailhead we found out that there had been a couple bear incidents over by where I had hiked back on Wednesday to take my pictures of Maroon Bells.  Two hikers were bit through their tents though there were no fatalities and both should be able to recover fine.

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Camping @ Maroon Bells

Last night I drove from Boulder up to aspen after a mostly full day of work.  I ended up going the back route that takes you up to Leadville and on some smaller back roads and drops you down into Aspen.  I beelined straight for the Maroon Bells campground.  I ended up getting the last campsite available.  Thank Goodness …. I didn’t want to spend all night searching for a place to sleep.

I woke up at 4 AM to start hiking around and finding a suitable place to take some sunrise pictures of the Maroon Bells.  I settled on the north edge of Crater Lake.  I didn’t pay enough attention and don’t quite like the distracting foreground on my shots.  I need to wake up and look at my screen a little more when setting up shots.  Oh well .. ya live and learn.

Here is my bad attempt at HDR.  Maybe when I get home I’ll give it more time.  I don’t like the unrealistic look to it.

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After hanging out there for a while I made my way back down to Maroon lake and wandered around there taking a few pictures.

Now I’m sitting at the Ink Coffee shop in Aspen letting my camera batteries recharge before I head into the wilderness tomorrow.

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Trip to Florida to watch Atlantis’s last departure

This past weekend I had an amazing opportunity to go to Florida with my Dad and watch the last NASA Shuttle launch.  What an amazing trip it was.

We Left Denver Thursday afternoon and made it to Titusville around 10 or so.  We went out and found a place to where we could see the shuttle at night time to try and get a decent picture of it before it launched.  But, it turned out to be too hard to get a good picture at night.  So, we headed back to our motel room to catch a whopping 2 hours of sleep before we had to wake up at 2 AM to head to the Kennedy Space Center.

We arrived at the KSCVC around 3 am and started the processes of waiting in line after line after line.  We finally boarded our bus at 7:30 AM and then proceeded to head out to the Causeway where my dad had gotten tickets to through the lottery system.  The causeway is the closest you can get as a civilian to watching the shuttle launch.  We sure lucked out.

After waiting in the humid heat for 4 hours while setting up the cameras, chatting about cameras, listening to the latest news of whether it was going to launch or not (a 30% chance) we finally got the word that the launch was a GO.  We all waited anxiously in anticipation for the countdown.  We made it to T-2 minutes .. and then were delayed.  But only for a few minutes…. Then they started the clock again at T-5 minutes and counting…  3…  And you could see the engines light up and the smoke billowing out…  2… 1… and we had liftoff.  For a moment all you could see was the smoke .. and then you saw the nose of the shuttle peaking out and moving up quickly … then it all happened so fast yet was sort of slow motion… watching the shuttle arc up into the clouds.  Then eventually the booming sound of the shuttle hit us (about 30 seconds later).

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And a few from the Pro Photographer Dad ….

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After the shuttle launch we made our way back to the Hotel for some very much needed rest.  That pretty much took up the rest of Friday.

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Saturday we headed out to the northern part of Merritt Island to the wildlife refuge to see what birds and other critters we could see.  At the visitor center we went on a short walk and ran into some interesting spiders, dung beetles (at least beetles that liked dung), turtles, and a small croc.   After that we headed out on the Peacock Pocket Rd loop (one that we would repeat two more times) to check out the birds.

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I would like to come back to Merritt island sometime (Maybe in the spring when it’s cooler) and take a kayaking trip around the canals and lagoons.  It was a very pretty area and very enjoyable except all the mosquitos that for some reason really love my blood (I’m still itching all over from the trip).

The last part of our major adventure was sitting on the tarmac for over an hour in Orlando, running through Atlanta’s airport from the end of one terminal to the end of another, and then not getting back home till 2 AM.  Just in time for a few hours sleep before I had to be to work Monday morning.

Thanks Dad for the GREAT time !!!!

Backpacking to Chicago Basin with the Family

This past weekend I made the trip up to Chicago Basin again, only this time I did it with more of the family (7 of us total).

Thursday night I stayed at Orvis hot springs with my Brother, Mom, and step father.  It was a great way to relax and unwind after quite the past few weeks of stressful work packed on top of a 6 hour drive down to Ouray.  I would recommend the place to anyone (At least anyone that doesn’t mind a little nudity since it is a clothing optional resort).  I did wear clothes as it would probably be a little strange being naked around family.

Friday we met up with Mandy and Andrea in Ouray and picked up a few last minute supplies at a local store.  Then we went and checked out Ouray’s Box Cañon Falls where they do the ice climbing in the winter.  It’s pretty amazing watching the creek rage through that canyon.  After that short hike we headed over to Silverton and met the rest of the family.   After having lunch at the local Pickle Barrel, we gathered up our packs and 7 of us boarded the train headed for the Needleton train stop.  My Grandma, Sister, and two Nieces boarded another train a half an hour later and headed for Durango to stay the night.

That day we hiked most of the way up to Chicago basin but didn’t quite reach it.  Instead we stayed at a cool campsite that overlooked some thundering waterfalls.  Saturday we backpacked the rest of the way up to Chicago Basin.  That day we explored around the basin and took a look at some of the falls and mines, and got acquainted with the goats.  This year the goats seem to be less afraid of people and more addicted to urine.  Pretty unfortunate.  They almost act like crack addicts do.  They get all fidgety when you are around and are super paranoid, yet they will do about anything to just get a lick of those rocks.

Sunday Morning Spencer and I headed out for our attempts at summiting 14ers.  The first one we headed for was Mt. Eolus.  After hiking up to Twin Lakes we reached the base of some pretty big snowfields.  We watched as a group of hikers tried to make it through the snow and it seemed to take them forever just to gain a few feet since they were wading and post holing through the snow.  After seeing their struggle we decided to take a route to the right that was still in the shade and the snow was hard.  We strapped on our new crampons and made our way up the steep slope.  Trying to kick step into the snow I slid a few times since it was so steep, luckily I was able to stop myself with my ice axe.  Then I figured out if I side stepped up the hill my crampons held much better.

IMG_1069After reaching the top of the snowfield it was time to cross the catwalk which wasn’t too wide but both sides of it had a pretty extreme drop off on both sides.  If you look closely at this photo you can see a group of people crossing the catwalk to gain the upper part of Mt Eolus.

After this it was a fairly easy climb to the top of Mt Eolus where we enjoyed the views while hanging out with a few other climbers and one fat marmot.  After that we headed down and did a short hike to the summit of North Eolus.

Then it was time for the fun slide down the snowfields we had climbed earlier.  The slope was so steep it made it very difficult to control how fast I was going or where I was going.  But luckily I made it down with only a major case of frozen ass.  It took us hours to get up and only a half an hour or so to get back down to twin lakes.

After making it down to twin lakes it turns out we had perfect timing and met the rest of our group there who was just doing that as a hike.  We sat down and had lunch and chatted for a while before Spencer, Andrea, and I headed up for our attempt of Sunlight Peak.  Only to be turned back less than 1/4 of the way up by a nasty storm.

After a nap and hanging out at camp, we heard a helicopter fly up the canyon.  We all rushed out into the field to see what was going on.  The helicopter circled around the area for nearly 15 minutes trying to find whatever it was looking for and then finally touched down not far from our camp.  We all made way to see what was going on.

After finding the helicopter we learned that a 17 year old boy had fallen from a cliff and had been there for several hours since the ranger’s walkie talkie was out of batteries.  Luckily they had eventually found someone with a Sat Phone that was able to call for help.  Unfortunately the boy had to sit in pain for over 4 hours before the helicopter was actually able to reach him.  With the help of many of the hikers up in the basin they were able to get the boy off of the hill and down into the helicopter and off to the hospital.  I can’t seem to get those disturbing images out of my mind these days.  I just hope he will be able to make a full recovery from his many injuries.  Here is a link to the news story that the Durango Herald ran about the accident

The next day we made our way out of the back country and back into civilization.  I arrived in Denver with my nephew just in time to watch the fireworks light up the skies of Denver.  I made it home after picking up Zip just after midnight.  Boy am I ever dragging ass today at work…..

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Biking in Fruita with friends

This past weekend I went to Fruita, CO to go mountain biking with a few of my friends.  It turned out to be a great weekend to go mtn biking nice and sunny but not too hot.  I don’t think there are going to be many of those weekends left before the summer heat hits that area. 

I took my trusty old Specialized Epic (It’s now 5 or 6 years old .. but still working GREAT) and drove west with Zip in my jeep.  We got there around 6 or so with two Jeff’s following me.  Jeffrey from SLC whom I’ve been friends with now for I think 13 years, and a new friend Jeff that lives in Avon.

Over the weekend I was able to get 5 amazing bike rides in.  This area is Full of amazing cross country rides with some fun downhill sections in each of them.  One of the more thrilling downhill descents is to go down Kesslers Run.  But each of the runs have their own special parts.

 

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CHUTES AND LADDERS / SUPERFLY LOOP

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PRIME CUT / JOE’S RIDGE / KESSEL

Unfortunately I wasn’t thinking and didn’t take many pictures this weekend.  I didn’t even pull out my camera until the last day on the last run which only Jeffrey (from UT) and I went on.  So here is my only pictures from the weekend …

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Snowshoeing to the 10th Mountain Division Hut

This past weekend I finally did it and went on my first Hut trip.  I was looking on their website 3 or so weeks ago and saw they had 2 spots available for a Saturday night.  So, I jumped on the opportunity and booked them.  It took me a while to find someone to go with me, but I finally got my friend Doug to come with me, we just had to wait for him to finish with work on Saturday.

We ended up leaving the trailhead around 1:30 that day setting off on our snowshoes.  I use the MSR Evo snowshoes and they are amazing .. especially on snow that has been packed down a little like the trail we were on.  They don’t really affect how you walk so they are simple to get use to.  It took us about 4 hours to get to the “Hut” … More like nice large cabin.  Since we had gotten a late start the cabin was already really warm, full of people, and had snow melted for the water supply.

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We settled in and found us some beds up in one of the three different sleeping quarters.  We ended up sharing the room with an friendly older couple.  The Cabin wasn’t full since a few of the people that had booked it weren’t able to make it.  Which turned out to be good for me since the beds aren’t quite big enough to fit my 6’4” frame.  I ended up sleeping at a diagonal across two of the mattresses.

The cabin’s are fully stocked and come with most everything you would need.  About all you really have to bring along is a sleeping bag, extra clothes, flashlight, and food.  They have all the pots, pans, dishes, spices, games, books, and other things that are handy.  They have wood burning stoves to heat the place, propane stoves to cook on, and this one had solar panels that powered the lights at night.

The hike out the next day was amazing.  Being the hike out it mostly downhill so far easier and allowed us to enjoy it a lot more.  The views were plentiful and beautiful.  It was a little windy but as long as you have a good wind jacket it doesn’t bother you much.  It even got warm enough that I was just wearing my short sleeve shirt down the second half of it.  Doug even had his shirt off for half of it.  Quite the nice warm weather to top off a great trip.

All in all my GPS shows it was 6.2 miles each way with 1,300 feet of elevation gain.  It wasn’t an easy trip but wasn’t difficult.  Just about Moderate as the books all say.

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10th Mtn Division Hut

Windom Peak in the Weminuche Wilderness Area

Over the 4th of July this weekend I went on a backpacking trip with my mom to the San Juan Mountains down by Silverton, CO.  I’ve been wanting to do this trip for quite some time now and since she ad some days off work, and I had just finished my last day working at my old job, we decided we should go give it a try.

The trip consisted of riding the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railwayup into the Weminuche Wilderness.  They drop you off in the middle of the wilderness area where Needleton Creek flows into the Animas River.  From there you pack up 6 miles with an elevation gain of 2,800 feet into Chicago Basin.  From there we set up our base camp for the next few days.

When we awoke in the morning we started heading up to hike Windom Peak.  Upon setting out at 6 AM to summit our first 14er (14,000 foot peak) we came across probably close to 100 mountain goats.  Most of them were hanging around in people’s camps.  They sure were curious buggers.  According to the forest service, and I witnessed it myself, they are addicted to urine (I know .. gross huh).  I guess they have become addicted to the salt in our urine.  Since this is the case the forest service asks you to make sure to pee on rocks for reasons that would become apparent to me later on.

We reached the Twin Lakes area where you can split up and go to one of the three 14,000 foot peaks right there in the basin.  Due to it being less technical and less exposure than the other two we chose to summit Windom Peak (14,982’).  The other two had some pretty damn sketchy places on them and since mom is afraid of heights (Though she did damn good on what we did) we chose not to combine Sunlight or Eolus in our trip.

From there we headed up the standard route to Windom Peak.  On the way up we didn’t really pass anyone.  Though at the top we did have a young kid come right up behind us.  He had previously hiked Sunlight and had far more energy than either of us had.  We sat at the Peak and snapped some photos then headed down off the mountain.  All in all it took us around 9 hours round trip.  Though we weren’t by any means rushing ourselves.

The next morning we slept in till around 9 or 10 AM.  After getting up and getting our stuff sorted out a herd of the mountain goats decided to pay us a visit.  It turns out that the head of the pack was hoarding the rock I had peed on earlier that morning.  Every time another goat would get near it would chase it off.  After it got it’s fill of all my salt they became curious of what I was doing.  I was down by the creek filling our camelbacks when I looked over my shoulder and one of them was creeping up on me with it’s ever watchful eyes.  I stood up and it continued to inch closer until it was probably 5 feet from me.  Then after a stare down of a couple minutes it decided to head back up to where the rest of the herd was.  I’m not sure if it was just curious what I was doing, threatened by me being there, or if it was just waiting for me to pee so it could get some more!

That day we decided to check out some of the mines in the area and just generally explore the area.  We headed up the trail that goes up over Columbine Pass.  We passed several camps, herds of goats, and a couple hikers.  We also passed one major camp that looked like it was a big base camp for workers on the trail.  I bet they had most of their stuff hauled in via helicopter since they were up by treeline and they had several big boxes that wouldn’t be easily hauled any other way.  We then came across some really cool mines but didn’t venture into any of them.  I’m sure they are very unstable these days.  We also had one goat with a radio collar that stalked us down the trail a half a mile or so.

The next day (the 4th of July) we got up early, packed our camp up, and made the hike back down to the railway.  The train picked us and 6 other backpackers up around 11:30 AM.  After getting back into town on that beautiful ride, we went and grabbed a beer and burger while watching all the interesting folk striding through town.

Quite the trip overall and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in a couple day outing to bag a 14er or three!

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Backpacking with the family and my clumsy self.

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I went with my family (Mom, Spencer, Andrea, Chase, and Richard) on a trip to Canyonlands to do the backpacking trip I went on three weeks previous.  All 6 of us were able to load up in to Spencer’s Jeep Commander and just throw all of our packs on top of the Jeep.  Thank goodness for huge SUV’s.  We stayed the night in Moab then got up at a decent time Friday morning and drove out to Canyonlands to pick up our permits and get on our way.

You usually have to get a hold of the backcountry office of Canyonlands weeks or months prior to your trip to make sure you can get one of the back country sites reserved.  We applied 3 weeks in advance and I didn’t get any of my first choices.  But I do have to say, every one of the sites I’ve came across are amazing and each have a killer view.  So we got to the visitor center around 9 AM, got the whole spill about back country etiquette (where to walk and not to walk, having  to carry out our own TP, not to touch any artifacts, etc) and obtained our permits.  Off to Squaw Flats campground B we went to start our trip.

I made it a whole 2 1/2 hours into the trip before I had my clumsy moment.  I was trying to take a picture of the family by propping up my camera on a cliff, when, someone started talking to me and I got distracted.   Well, I lost my balance with my 40 lb pack on my back and went tumbling down the rocks.  I ended up hitting my head a little and sprained my ankle, though a minor sprain.  Luckily it wasn’t too far to camp and I was able to take off my boots, wrap my ankle, and elevate it for a while.  I ended up going with everyone later that evening in search of water.  We ended up hiking around 2 miles before we reached enough water to filter through.  Then we made our way back to camp and I stayed up that night until a late 9 PM (That’s pretty late for backpacking).

The next morning we packed up and hiked over to our next campground up in Chesler Park.  We took a look at the cowboy graffiti which had sayings like “Negro Bill Never Worked and Never Will” and nicknames like Silver Dick scribed into the rock with charcoal.  There was even a cartoon character of one of the cowboys.  We set up camp just beyond the cowboy graffiti and ate some lunch before setting off on our day hike.  For our day hike we packed up our water filters, containers, and some snacks and headed up to Druid Arch.  This has to be one of my favorite places in Canyonlands and is why I drug my family down there.  The view from the base of Druid arch is just amazing.  We made it up there a little after 1 PM and relaxed up there for a bit before heading back down.  We stopped off at the same water source we went to the day before and filled up on all the water we could fit.

Back at camp I relaxed for a couple hours and even fell asleep drooling and snoring.  I woke back up and hung out with the family and had my yummy chili and mac frozen dinner (Everything tastes good when your backpacking… well, almost everything).  Then I retired back to my tent and read one of my books where I had tore a couple chapters out of.  That night I laid in my tent listening to my brother and his son having a war of farts.  I’m glad I was able to stay away from their battlefield.

The next morning we packed up our stuff and made the 8 mile trip back to the Jeep through some amazing and beautiful country.  We even stopped at the crack where my previous trip had had an incident of one of our members falling in the crack and getting stuck.  Chase crawled down in the crack and fetched himself a lost Nalgene bottle.  After back to the jeep and changed in some fresh clothes, we headed out to the needles outpost and grabbed us a 6 pack of Windermere Hefewiezen.  Then a stop in Moab for Pizza at Zax.  MMMMmmmmm.

What a great trip and all.  Was really fun to go on one with the family for once.  And I sure am glad the sprain was minor and was able to still hike it all.

Canyonlands

Canyonlands Trip Part 3

I have been very bad and have neglected posting my third portion of my Canyonlands trip.  I am forced to do so now so I can post my one that I went with my family 😉

So after my trip into Chesler park with the Arizona Backpacking club, three of us continued on to our final portion of our trip, Upper Salt Creek.

Bloody Basin road was closed due to too much mud and all around nasty conditions, so, we had to alter our plans.  We were supposed to start at one end of Upper Salt Creek and hike to the other end of it,  but since we could no longer do a through hike to a vehcile at the other end, we had to hike in as far as we could and then come back out.  We changed our campsites around and now looked like instead of averaging 6-8 miles a day we would be averaging around 12 miles a day.  The first night we slept in the at large camping portion which is where you can camp anywhere you like just as long as you practice the leave no trace rule.  We chose a killer spot under a tree that was dwarfed by the towering cliffs and a really cool unnamed arch.  We hiked up that day to take a look at Angel Arch which is another extremely cool arch, but as with most everything on this trip the timing was wrong and the lighting was horrible.

The second day we headed out to our camp which turned out to be as far as we would go on this trip.  We did hike a half a mile or so and checked out some really cool ruins and petroglyphs.  We camped beneath another spectacular view.  I have come to the conclusion that there isn’t a single campsite in Canyonlands National park that doesn’t have exquisite views.  That night we had to lock our food in bear canisters provided by the park service.  I wouldn’t think the bears would be out in the desert like this.  But we did come across some bear scat so it does look like they are in fact out there.

The Third night we spent the night at a jeep campground (Peekaboo) and I crawled into my tent cold and a bit wet.  That was the first and only night I really got cold.  I couldn’t get my feet to warm up and woke up to my boots frozen.  The next morning we got up on the trail pretty early and took a small side trip to Paul Bunyan’s Potty.  A interesting horizontal type arch.  Then made our way back to the vehicles where I’d find my jeep battery drained.  After getting a jump from a nice fellow I headed out to the needles outpost for a diet coke and a nice hot shower before making my way home.