Tuesday, April 3, 2012

3/30/12-04/02/12 Desert Escape

It has been 2 years (Zion in April 2010) since Allison and I have been able to get out of town for some time to ourselves.  With some time off and grandparents willing to watch our 18 month old daughters for 3 nights, it was a no brainer to embark on one of our favorite Spring trips (like just about everybody who is into the outdoors in the Front Range), go to the Utah desert and soak up some warmth and sunshine.  Originally, we were planning to meet our friends Dave and Emily for some easy canyons with the dogs, but schedules were not quite lining up just right, combined with a last minute dog emergency on their end, meant that our options changed a bit.

We decided to go to Moab, skip the camping and treat ourselves to a B&B, in order to make eating/relaxing as much a priority as the adventures we were also seeking.  This last minute change was also precipitated by the fact that I got really sick on Tuesday (laryngitis I think) and even though I felt better by the time we left on Friday (still was not able to talk until Saturday), the thought of camping did not sound the least bit appealing.

Friday, 03/30/12 Corona Arch

We left home on Friday around 10:15am and took our time getting there and even stopped for a hike to Hanging Lakes, which we have discussed every time we have driven through Glenwood Canyon, but have never had the time to do.  We followed the signs to Hanging Lake, exiting the highway at Exit 121/Grizzly Gulch, parked at the TH and Allison got a head start up the trail while I tied my shoes.  A quick glance at the signboard announced that it was not the TH to Hanging Lakes....  WTF?  Serious?  I guess I did not do my homework (as I had always assumed that was the exit), so we just kept rolling West on I-70.

Arrived in Moab around 4:30pm, checked into the B&B, then headed out the Potash Road, 10.1 miles to the TH for Corona Arch.  It was only a few miles round trip and we took our time scampering around on the slickrock and taking many pictures, really enjoying our freedom to wander and take our time without any responsibility.

Amazing excavation of sandstone for the RR tracks

Bowtie Arch

Corona Arch



Dinosaur Tracks

Saturday, 03/31/12 Hunter Canyon/Pritchett Canyon Loop

In no hurry, we spent a good part of the morning taking advantage of the second B of B&B and chatting with the owner who made us a fine meal.  Finally around 9:30am, a few short miles of driving down Kane Creek Road from the B&B got us to the big lot where the road turns to dirt, where our plan was to walk/jog the few road miles to the mouth of Gatherer Canyon.  A short stint through Gatherer and a little route finding brought us to the trail that traverses high above Hunter Canyon, where we enjoyed some nice rolling singletrack/doubletrack with expansive views.

Routefinding with a map and GPS made things quite easy.  Could have done it without no problem I think, but it certainly added a nice level of comfort, as a small mistake could be very inconvenient at best.  Took a side trip over to Pritchett Natural Bridge (or Arch depending on the map) and searched high and low for the shortcut indicated on the Latitude 40 map that I have (geared toward mountain biking).  After a bit of poking around, we decided to give up and backtracked to where we originally left the Pritchett Canyon route.

It was an amazingly clear day and quite warm, 86 we would later find and it felt great to be out soaking it up.  We had plenty of food and water and had it not been for developing toe blisters and another damaged toenail (thanks again to La Sportiva shoes, the Electron this time), I felt like I could have just been out there indefinitely.  We took our sweet time descending Pritchett Canyon, as we discovered that we timed it just right with the Moab Easter Jeep Safari week and there were hordes of 4x4 enthusiasts testing their skills on the insanely technical road/trail (I am planning a separate post to cover that nuttiness).

We ended up getting in a touch over 15 miles for the loop with 2,000+ k of vert., in a little over 5 hours.

Starting up the dirt section of Kane Creek Road

Walking above Hunter Canyon

Hunter Canyon

Which way?  Where is that map?

Pritchett Arch

Funny side story from a "non-drinker"

Those who know me, often get a kick out of my teetotaler ways.  A few times per year, I will have a glass or of wine with dinner and once, maybe every 2-7 years, I will sip down a few margs, if the mood strikes me and if they happen to be free.

After cleaning up and relaxing at the B&B, we headed to the Moab Brewery for a well deserved dinner, where I was reminded of why I rarely, if ever drink.  

While ordering, we noticed they had some fun flavored, 18oz. margaritas on the menu and noticed them on nearby tables.  Feeling a bit carefree and celebratory of our hard earned and rare vacation time, I threw my general aversion to alcohol to the wind and ordered one up for Allison and I to split.  We started sipping and before I knew it, it was gone, leaving behind a 13oz pile of ice.  What?  Seriously?  $10.99 for a pile of ice?  I stewed and stewed, now focused on how I felt ripped off.  Stewed about how I would have been MUCH happier with a bottomless Coke or Lemonade for ~$2.  Hah, good for a laugh I guess, I'll never spend another cent on alcohol.

Sunday, 04/01/12 Moab Rim Trail/Hunter Canyon

Headed up the Moab Rim Trail from the river in the morning, following a long line of Jeeps that had just started up.  Climbing 900 feet in a bit under a mile, entirely on slickrock, this was my kind of trail and Allison gave me the nod to do my thing.  I took off up the trail, with the intent of competing with the Jeeps, further inspired by the insistence of one of the workers at the B&B that suggested it would take us 45 minutes to get to the rim overlook.  I was a little bogged from breakfast still, but my legs felt springy and I got into a good groove.  Passing the Jeeps was WAY easier than I thought, but even so, turned on the gas a bit as I passed just to show them up (most of the drivers/passengers were the sedentary type and looked/commented in awe as I floated past).  Also proved the B&B gal wrong in her 45 minute estimate, topping out in 13 minutes.  Turned around to meet Allison, who was surprisingly just a minute or so down the trail (though she had a few minute head start).

From the rim, we hiked/jogged intermittently toward the overlook on the far side of the mesa, totaling 9 miles for the RT.  Of course we took our time on the way back, spectating the Jeeping antics.

Great views of Moab

Extreme seems to be the name of the game in Moab.  Here, the unicyclists have at it.

Our turnaround point was up the dirt road in the center, behind the large sandstone wall

In the afternoon, we headed over to Hunter Canyon for a 3.5 mile RT walk.  Hunter Canyon is one of the few canyons with somewhat consistent water flow, tall trees and abundant vegetation.

Some rather large rocks have fallen, note Allison in the picture for scale

Cave of forgotten dreams....  This cave is MASSIVE and I tried to get up to it, but the going was a real scrubble scramble.  I made it 3/4 of the way up, but opted to not push my luck, as there was too much loose rock and hangfire.  I had to descend most of the upper part facing in and was a little sketched at times.  With a helmet and someone like Homie, I might have made it though.

Monday, 04/02/12 Hanging Lake, Finally.

So, the trick for Hanging Lake (which I subconsciously knew all along and is part of the reason we have never been until now) is that if you are approaching from the East (there is no exit Westbound for Hanging Lake) you have to get off at the Grizzly Gulch exit (121), then backtrack on I-70 4 miles to the Hanging Lake exit.  From the Hanging Lake exit (exit 125), you can not get back on I-70 Eastbound, so you have to backtrack West to exit 121 to turn around.  No matter which way you are travelling, a trip to Hanging Lake requires 8 additional miles in the car.  I have to say it is quite worth it though.

After a relaxing soak at Glenwood Hot Springs the previous night, we decided that we would figure out the Hanging Lake puzzle no matter what and finally check it out before we headed for home.  The trail is very well maintained to the lake and though the lake is smaller than I anticipated (more like a pond), we were quite impressed.  Seeing it in the off season was also quite a treat, as we shared the lake with two families for part of the time, yet otherwise had it to ourselves.  Quite an amazing spot.


  1. You need to learn to drink beer!

  2. Great trip. And, what a treat to have three nights courtesy of the grandparents! Can I borrow them?

  3. Brownie, I have tried beer a few times, but it always tastes like piss to me. Sorry, I know that is sacrilege.

    Jim P., yeah, it was so great to get away. Hopefully the experience was positive enough that we can do it again, hopefully soon.

  4. Sounds like you guys had a great trip. You took some amazing photos. We took the kids up to Hanging Lake for a fall color hike a couple of years ago. It was incredible.

    My favorite line: "...if the mood strikes me and if they happen to be free." You are hilarious. I think somewhere inside you, there's a beer drinker trying to get out. :)