Well, it turn out to be a fantastic vacation. We found a great campsite near a spring along the Colorado River (the site had trees - nice shade to combat the broiling sunlight). Did Arches nat'l park - simply amazing. Lots of photographs including closeups of catus blooms. It had been raining for close to a week and the entire desert was alive. What timing.
We had sunny (aka roasting) skies for the entire weekend - the cobalt skies made for great pictures against the red slickrock. We spent day 2 in Canyonland nat'l park. Our little lunchtime hike out to the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers ended up being the 10 mile death march from hell. We'd each drank 32 oz. of water before the hike, 32 oz. of water during the hike, and we were still dehydrated with about 3 miles to go. Kinda scary, but cool to be close to the edge and come back from it.
The really scary thing, though, is that we saw a few people doing the same hike who had no water. This German guy spoke some unintelligable syllables (I used to be fluent, but even then didn't understand most of what he said), and pointed to my water jug. Yikes. And he had about 8 miles to go - in 105 deg. heat.
But the wierdest part of the death march happened when we crossed over the top of a rocky ridge. A quiet buzz quickly turned into the roar of a swarm of bees. Didn't see 'em, only heard 'em. The noise lasted for about 25 seconds. Either it was a huge swarm or they were moving really slow. The noise was all around and if we'd been attacked, we'd have died right there. We think it was about a 4 mile hike to any kind of medical help. It gives me the chills just recollecting it.
We took it easy the next day - breakfast in town, crashing on the picnic table, etc. It was great to read Wired surrounded by immense sandstone cliffs and the sound of the Colorado river (about 40 yards away from the tent). We got off our butts as the day cooled down into the 90s (around 4:00) and brought the mountain bikes over to the infamous Slickrock trail. Well, I thought I'd mountain biked before... talk about a rude awakening. Imagine 20' decents in about 25' horizontal distance. Followed by a climb just about as steep. Next to a 450' drop-off into some rocky abyss. Heh.
After celebrating with some local microbrew, we cruised back into arches to shoot photos of the full moon rising through varios rock formations. The contrast between the cobalt sky, the red rock, and white moon is really wild - the photos actually captured it too. All in all a perfect day.
The next day we headed back into arches to catch early morning shots of Delicate arch. You've probably seen pictures of it - it looks like half a lifesaver (candy) sticking out of a red rock formation. The approach to it is a 1.5 mile hike - not for the easily tired or out-of-shape. We saw a guy drop a 300mm lense and case over the edge by accident. Du-oh. We figure he had a 5 mile hike to pick up the pieces - idiot.
Speaking of idiots, you wouldn't believe some of the tourons (tourist morons) in existence. Sometimes I'm suprised that the human species hasn't died off just from the sheer stupidity of the bulk of it's members. Sigh.
The trip back was pretty uneventful - except for the amazing amount of runoff happening this year. The snowpack 60 miles west of Denver was 300% to 1000% above normal last weekend. About a quarter of it melted in the last week. Every stream and river is above flood stage. I know of at least five towns where the water plant has been shut down so that it doesn't get contaminated by getting overfilled. Three people died while on guided raft trips in the last four days. Its wild. We have a reservation for a trip on the Arkansas a few weekends from now - the river should be high but not too dangerous.
The ankle performed well. My doctor gave me a self-rehab program (stop snickering) and generic instructions, "don't do it if it hurts". Alright for some activities.... Heh. Anyways, the ankle didn't hurt at all during the weekend - only sitting in the car driving back.
Hrmmm. If you've never been to the Utah desert, you must see it once in your life. It is truly awe-inspiring. Arches was magnificant, Canyonlands was something I'd never imagined possible on this planet. Maybe I'll digitize some of my proofs if someone wants to volunteer a home.
Oh well, gotta cruise. Later,