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October is the perfect time of year for hanging out in Utah around Moab and the Canyonlands, so I couldn't turn down an opportunity to head out there with some good friends. Bob, Keith, and I drove out Thursday night after work getting to Moab just after midnight where Beth, Pam, and Rich had a hotel and were mtn biking all week. Despite the reports of snow near Vail, it was beautiful the entire way and no problems. It was unusually cold and rainy in Moab though, probably my first time seeing rain out there! The following morning we headed towards the Needle District ofCanyonlands2004 01.jpg (147702 bytes) the Canyonlands after a phatty breakfast. We found a nice and big campsite in Squaw Flats and cracked some beers open while setting up. A bit later we hiked the 9 mile Lost Canyon Loop. It was really cool with the red rock formations, canyons, and slickrock. Not long into the hike it started to drizzle and turned into a cold rain. Hiking up some of the small canyons we could see the start of a stream flowing towards us. I had thoughts of a flash flood rippin' down the canyon and sweeping us away! But no such luck. We ran into a couple that said they were in the next canyon over where there was a blizzard and the had to slide down Canyonlands2004 03.jpg (140809 bytes) a waterfall to get back to the trail. Uh, yeah right. The sun came out again and left some awesome views of the light shimmering in the water on the rocks. Back at camp it was time to indulge in bbq brisket, plenty of beers, and Jager bombs. Before long we were dancing around the camp fire to Hypnotic Clambake!
Saturday was the day for a big hike around the Needles. After plenty of breakfast, bacon, and seeing Pam, Rich, and Mary off we got a sub-Alpine start at the parking lot of Elephant Hill. I hadn't been in this area for aboutCanyonlands2004 17.jpg (267991 bytes) 6 years and forgot how cool looking everything is. Makes me think of what Mars or the moon would look like. The weather was quite different then the day before, not a cloud in the sky and nice and warm. Across the slickrock following just cairns and gazing in awe at the huge amphitheaters of giant stone walls all around. We took a long way to Devils Kitchen then headed south again towards Chesler Park. Soon enough we were in "The Joint" which is a bunch of caverns and tight squeezes through straight up walls with just Canyonlands2004 21.jpg (131333 bytes) barely any sunlight coming through from above. To explore one area we had to leave our backpacks at the start to squeeze though. Awesome stuff! Next we were off towards Druid Arch. The trail up there is awesome with some short friction moves. It's all well worth it once you're at the enormous Druid Arch that towers over you! From here it was about 5.5miles back to the truck through some dry stream beds and along only a couple miles of trails we started out on. It was great to see the Bob's truck after 18miles knowing that steaks and beer were closeby! Back at camp we attacked the beer cooler and had a couple pre-dinner Jager bombs. The $1 grill grates from Walmart melted in no time at all, soon enough the steak were dropped in the sand for some added flavoring, then we were laughing so hard it was tough to wash them off!
Sunday was a bit cloudy and chilly again so we skipped a short hike to an arch and proceeded to come as close as possible to running out of gas on the way back to Moab! The ride back was mostly in drizzle and some snow showers. Yet another fantastic trip to Utah! 

Canyonlands2004 02.jpg (178221 bytes) Rich on the "crux ladder move" with Pam nervously watching; Awesome rock formations Canyonlands2004 04.jpg (155336 bytes)

Canyonlands2004 05.jpg (130824 bytes) After the rain on wet slickrock; cool sunlight on the wet rocks Canyonlands2004 06.jpg (131249 bytes)

Canyonlands2004 07.jpg (128920 bytes) Who's this tourist in my picture?; Sunset on the nearby bluffs Canyonlands2004 08.jpg (110754 bytes)

Canyonlands2004 09.jpg (195079 bytes) Beth at the start of an 18 mile day; Keith in "The Joint" Canyonlands2004 12.jpg (112130 bytes)

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