What can you do when it's Mother Nature who thwarts you? I mean really, there isn't exactly a box you can slip an irate comment into. Nor is there a “proper channel” through which one can lodge a complaint. I supposed that you could go around destroying nature, but what good does that do? And it makes all those environmentalists really, really upset. And when they get upset . . . well, I'll let you fill in your own blanks there.
We woke up this morning and the temperature had plummeted a good thirty degrees over night. Rain fell steadily and loudly outside of our hotel (and the entire surrounding state I think)--none of this was entirely unexpected. These things did not deter us from getting up, filling our camel back bladders, packing snacks, gathering every warm piece of clothing that we could find and heading south, toward the Needles District of Canyonlands.
Nor did the snow we drove through to get into the park put us off. We even rallied after the park rangers said that the road to the trailhead was impassible to anyone in a low clearance vehicle. (I knew we should have brought someone's SUV) We followed their alternate directions, found our set off point and, well, set off.
The first fifteen minutes we had a downpour. Good thing for cheap ponchos. After that it stopped for a while. We scrambled over rocks, ridges, hills and vales. Okay, maybe not vales. Those cute little cairn piles are like life lines. Life lines possessed by tiny voices that laughed at me whenever they led us up a sheer wall of slippery rock. Or down into a ravine, just to then say, “Come on, up this other side now.” Rotten little things . . .
No really, I loved them. Happy piles of stones. Really.
Well, we ended up taking the hard and longer trail (the only option available). By the time we met up with the trail that would then lead us directly to Druid Arch we'd already come almost four miles and had four miles left to go. We'd battled through wind, hail, rain, snow, swift moving creeks, badly sung opera, fruitless shortcuts the failed promise of a disco party and a distinct lack of Druid Arch progress, and while I was ready for an 11 mile hike (not terribly strenuous according to the reports I'd read) I was not prepared to make it a 16 mile hike. Not only that, but the rangers said there wasn't much of a chance that we could get very far down Elephant Canyon because of all the water. And the daylight was waning. Or would be, by the time we got back.
Snow began piling up around us, and I decided that we were finished. Remember, we had to do all of the above again (yes, including the opera) with the threat of cannibals added, and I wanted to be able to get back to the car before someone fell of the trail, sprained an ankle or started to whine like a little girl. That would be me. So we came back.
I do have to say that the hike was spectacular. The wet made all of the bark on the trees very dark—a nice contrast to the green vegetation and the red rocks. I'd go again. But not in the summer. The place would be an oven. However, now I have to come back next spring and do Druid Arch. This time I'm bringing a truck (just in case) and some sort of leverage over Mother Nature. Not sure what, I'll get back to you. Send my any ideas you may have.
Pictures are still in my camera. I'll post them when we get back.
Oh, a plug for the Carhartt jacket I bought. That thing is a rock star. No water got through and I was plenty warm. Also, thanks to the pillow top like socks that I wore. My feet don't hurt a bit. The rest of my body does, but not my feet.