Current location: Taos, New Mexico
Miles traveled since last update: 1300+
Max miles traveled in one day on this leg: 400
Total miles traveled: 9050+
Whoa! Lots of driving, hiking, and camping this week. I jammed in six national parks and one national monument is seven days, spent a couple nights in Denver, and here I am in Taos, New Mexico (super chill town and area!). Short update this week with lots of pictures from the travels.
North Rim Grand Canyon
View my North Rim Grand Canyon pictures here.
The Grand Canyon is obviously huge and vast. I knew this going in but didn't realize how varied the terrain could be depending on which side (north or south) you were to visit. I spent the weekend on the what is called south rim (pictures here) which was really cool, but after staying at the north rim at the beginning of the week I had to create a separate photo album because it was so very different. The south side is desert-like with almost no foliage while the north side is the exact opposite, covered with pine and so much other vegetation; it was nice returning to the forest after being in the desert for a while. On north rim I took some gnarly dirt roads out into the very edge of the canyon where I camped for two days with not another human in sight for about forty miles. I sat on the edge of the canyon the entire afternoon where I meditated, finished a good book, drank some wine, and gave a big round of applause for the sun once it finally set for the day.
The morning I was set to leave I packed up my tent and loaded up my car. I hopped in, started it up and was told that I had a tire with no air pressure. Not good! I was in a super remote area with no cell service and it was unlikely that if I needed assistance I would see anyone for a while. I of course had a spare, popped it out and the spare was also low on air. Jeeze! While it was low it had more air in it than my completely flat tire. I switched it up and took it SLOW along the dirt roads back out to the main land and I made it. Could have been a tough one but all was well in the end. I got my tire repaired in the next town and continued on my way very happy in the fact that in driving almost ten thousand miles this had been my only car trouble so far.
Zion National Park
View all my Zion pictures here.
My new friends I met in Havasu last week told me about many hikes in Zion National Park but most of them told me "you HAVE to do Angel's Landing". I knew I only had a day in the park and had been told that it was always a madhouse. I went to bed early the night before and got up at 5:30am, by far the earliest I've gotten up on my journey to date. Not only was it early, it was cold as hell! My fingers went numb as I packed up my tent.
I got to the trailhead just after 7am and started up. The first part of the trail was a grueling amount of high incline switchbacks. I was surprised in how good I felt going up them. I guess all the hiking I've been doing has helped a lot in my cardio.
After the switchbacks begins the real fun though; what this hike is known for. A hike up a rock formation with steep drop offs on either side with chains to give you something to hold onto. There are signs everywhere not to take the hike if you have a fear of heights or heart condition and to be careful as people have died not being safe on this part of the way up.
Seeing the drop offs weren't to rough for me and as long as you think and move safely, this hike was not as bad as it sounds. The payoff at the top was spectacular. I meditated for a while overlooking this beautiful valley and when I opened my eyes I felt so full of life and energy. Getting to the top of this rock was one of the best hikes of my life.
Bryce Canyon National Park
After leaving Zion I shot off for Bryce Canyon National Park. On the way I went through an area called Red Canyon that was fantastic. I hiked around a bit and hung out in some cool rock formations. A few extra pictures here but this is what it looked like. A very unique spot.
I made it to Bryce in the late afternoon. Surprisingly there were campsites available. I set up my tent and there was still enough sunlight in the day for a hike. I elected to take one of the most popular: Navajo Loop. Another canyon-like region but the rock formations here had their own charm and magic. Yet another special place.
Capitol Reef National Park
View all my Capitol Reef pictures here.
Another early morning rise and I began west, driving through Escalante on beautiful Rt 12, one of the best drives on my journey so far. On the way I passed through Capitol Reef National Park. No time for a hike but wow, even more rock formations that blew my mind. I stopped at a few spots and admired things before moving on. I wished I had more time for exploring this area.
Canyonlands National Park
Another park I went through pretty quickly but wanted to walk around a bit. You never really know the deal about the canyons of the United States until you go through Arizona and Utah. And while there are so many they are all so very different. Canyonlands was no exception. The deep cavernous holes in the ground here were so very different from other canyons I've seen along the way.
Arches National Park
View all my Arches pictures here.
On to Arches and my third national park in one day. I was feeling tired but determined to finish this out. I elected to hike the Delicate Arch trail which was one of the most popular but seemed to fit my the length of hike I was willing to do. The sky was cloudy which made it so much easier as this area is usually scorching with sun. The hike was listed as 2-3 hours but thanks to the conditions I completed it in an hour. Seeing the delicate arch formation was so worth it and I was happy that I pushed through my tiredness to do this hike.
On my way back I took a quick detour and saw some petroglyphs, old carvings in rocks from Native Americans that were done sometime between 1650 and 1850. I had never seen anything like it and stared at these for almost as long as I did the delicate arch. Super cool! They look like they were made yesterday.
Colorado National Monument
My final scenic stop this week was in Colorado at their national monument. It was recommended to me because "while it is another canyon, you are right within it, close up". So I decided to take an extra couple hours and explore this place too. Well worth it. Great views of rock formations and an even better view of the valley below.
Such a great time through Arizona and Utah and there was so much more I could have done. But push on I must. While I enjoyed the canyons of the region I am ready for some new scenery. I'm now southbound through New Mexico as I make my way towards Texas and back east. Currently staying in a small town call Taos north of Santa Fe in the coolest hostels I've ever had the chance to visit called The SnowMansion. Thanks as always for following along!!!