Week 19, This voyage is like business. You have a mission, you create a goal, you make a plan and you adjust where needed.
Having spent an extra day in Naturita gives you a different feeling than if we just would have stopped for the night.
You count again your blessings, you feel sorry for the hard life and the limited local resources they have here but we admire the drive and goodwill of people to create a positive, welcoming atmosphere. You see the willingness of hard work to make things work as with Lloyd, the ex-marine, who recently took over the campground, or the people who work in the local supermarket. They had more inhabitants in the past, hence more resources, as there was a very active uranium mine close by in Uravan, but you can’t really make this a tourist attraction as it’s uranium was used for the Hiroshima bomb.
Story in the store.
Today we follow the HWY 90 as it has rained and the 4×4 road will be very muddy. We stop in Bedrock (same name, but no, not the village of the Flintstones), where the only store recently has been reopened.
John has moved to this village 5 years ago as he lost his heart to the place and knew it would be his destiny to restore the store. It only took some time to convince the community that he would be able to revive what had been abandoned for years. Once it was part of the Thelma and Louise film but more historically interesting, this was really the Wild West where Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch sheltered in the area after they robbed the Telluride Bank of $21,000 (around $600,000 today).
After 70 km, we were passed by at least 20 old timers from Belgium, we meet them again in Arches and it seems that they have shipped 70 old-timers to the US to do a road trip in the West. Luckily their container arrived with a two-day delay, otherwise they would not have had any cars, due to the hurricane.
Covered an other state and now entering Utah!
We find the spring that was already mentioned in the store in Bedrock. Scott from Norwood will drive to the spring on a regular basis as this is the best water in miles. Norwood has tap water but the taste is so different that he will make the 45min drive to fill his canisters for a week’s supply. Must say we never had such sweet water!
15km further and after more headwind and not finding the spot Scott suggested for wild-camping, we set-up our tent between very small oak trees only 10m from the road which is luckily very quiet at night. As it has not rained we decide to try-out the Rimrock trail to bike to Moab, first part is great gravel as we had during the GDMBR but after 15 km it turns into 4×4 ATV munched-up conditions. As we still have 70km to go and we already have a pre-paid reservation in Moab, we decide to turn around and follow the HWY. Which was a very wise decision.
Hole, arch, window
Biking into Moab gives us an insight in the tourisism boom they have seen. Campground after motel after hotel passes by. Trailer parked next to trailer without any space in-between.
I am happy we have made a reservation beforehand as we see a lot of no-vacancy signs. Our campground is in the middle of the city with some very large trees and a swimming pool. We made a reservation for 5 nights, so we will have 2 days for Arches National Park and 2 days for Canyonlands NP. Now decide how to arrange transport to the different entrances and in the parks. We can’t bike&hike Arches as they are working on the road and the park is only open between 7.00-19.00 and the only campground is closed. Also if we want to see The Needles section and the Island In The Sky part of Canyonland we need some way of easy transportation. Being unsuccessful in finding a Jeep we decide to rent the smallest car available for the full period and hike some longer trails, rather than driving off-road. Even the smallest car is only available as of the next day. We get a Mustang, so cool, so American. As a result we see 90% of highlights in Arches, have still time to hike the very windy walk to Delicate Arch and spend more than an hour soaking up the special energy; see the light change, observe how other people experience this special place.
Next day the 7 miles hike of Devils Garden (also Arches). Arches National park has the most dense area in the world of arches created by nature, more than 2.000 described in this area.
Cruised to the Needles (thanks fam. Smets for the suggestion!), hiked a hot 21km trail. Never seen so many Indian faces in the rocks and felt such a different energy in the maze. We met Olga who was happy to hike together the second part of the hike. Especially when we entered a maze of tower high walls where sunlight was not seeping through. Such a special place, such special encounter.
Canyonlands NP is nice too, but after the first 3 days of very special hikes, this was the least spectacular. Probably also because we wanted to bike it backcountry, down in the canyon. Seems you have to arrange this at least 4 months in advance as all backcountry campgrounds were now full. As we could not arrange a Jeep for one day with backcountry permit, we only could view the canyons from above. Still very impressive!This Mesa (flat top mountain with steep sides) was in the past used to graze cattle. Not only abundant grass but the Neck was the biggest benefit: the plateau was only connected with mainland by a “neck” as wide as two cars, once cattle were herded onto the plateau the cowboys would close the fence on top of the neck and the cows would have nowhere to escape to.
We decide to stay one more day to rest and plan the next days, have my hair done and shelter for more rain. Brad, who makes amazing pictures and is a fanatic biker (has 15 different bikes at home for him and his wife), suggests some back country roads to Capitol Reef.
In this area an average of 15cm rain will fall per year. During the past night, today and last week already 4 cm fell. Will back roads still be accessible? Stay tuned and you will find-out if we had to adjust our plans or not.