The start of this year had been quite stressful for me and one of my friends and it had been way too long since I was out in the wilderness. Knowing we needed to decompress we decided to take the long weekend and go somewhere fun. Salt Lake CIty proved in the past to be a great starting point for lots of adventures, so we booked some tickets, packed gear for just about any possible type of adventure, and headed off to Utah.
There is always something fun about having a vacation that is completely and utterly unplanned. We met up in the airport and then grabbed some lunch wondering "what are we going to do?" There wasn't enough snow to do anything really snowy and with some sore ankles couldn't do anything crazy, so I thought back to places I'd been and thought of Canyonlands! When I was on my cross country trip with my father we made a short stop in the Needles section of the park. I remembered it being pretty and having backcountry trails, so off to the Needles it was!
After spending the night car camping in one of the great BLM campgrounds in the Indian River recreation area, we went in and got our permit for Box Spring canyon. We had driven in during the dark, but the moment the sun was out I realized I had forgotten how beautiful the area really is. The canyon had all kinds of wonderful sandstone walls mixing the red and the white and beautiful layered textures. We hiked up to the end of the canyon, following the trail up to the crossings of the slickrock ridges. And at the end was something amazing; a gigantic semicircular stone ampitheater around four stories high of sheer red sandstone stood like a frozen-red Niagra Falls guarding the end of the valley. And on one of its walls was a keyhole, a near full perfect circle eroded out of the stone, 200 feet in diameter or more. Standing there looking at it, turning around to look out over all of the sandstone formations and with the snowcapped La Sal mountains completing the horizon, all I could do was smile and be happy, all stresses forgotten. The power of beauty can definitely be overwhelming.
At night beauty didn't go away with the sun; whether we were staying in a tent we carried on our backs or by the car, we were treated to one of the most gorgeous skies I've ever seen. The nights were clear and the moon did notrise until late so the stars got to rule the black sky. In places like Utah you can see the sky like it is supposed to be seen; the Milky Way cuts across it like a long lightbulb and new stars seem to appear every second as the minutes tick on by. At times it seemed so bright as if the moon was out, but the light was all from the stars. It is breathtaking to actually see the firmanent as it is, and sad how much of it so many people miss and sad for how many of the names of the stars I've forgotten.
On our way out we stopped off at Dead Horse State Park. I had not been there in all of the times I'd been in the area, and it really is a wonderful point. Gorgeous panoramic views abound along with great viewing of some of the river canyons. There are also some great day hiking trails, probably even nicer than Island in the Sky! We had a good time enjoying the beautiful views, hobbling along the rim trail with sore feet, but a great way to cap off a phenomenal weekend. Soon it would be back to the real world for me, but renewed and reminded to make the time to get out again soon.
Picutres were from the a900 system with the 24-70, 16-35, 70-300 lenses and a Peleng circular fisheye.
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