New Adventures in Familiar Surroundings Part II (aka Hello 2017!)
After a raging New Years Eve (we went to bed before my parents called at 10 pm), we woke up pretty sore from our epic bike ride the day before. We also woke up to a world covered in clouds, frost, and a suspiciously wet ground (we were in the desert after all). Despite the dreary conditions, we decided an easy hike was in order. Thanks to the fine folks at Discover Moab, we had a couple of hike options that wouldn’t be too tough on Moose’s sensitive paws. We wanted something that was long enough to get a little workout but not too long since we were both looking forward to an afternoon nap!
After some debate, we settled on Morning Glory Arch, a hike that is advertised as 4 miles round trip and should take an average hiker about 4 hours. We’re not average hikers and knew we’d probably be done in about 2 hours. The entire hike follows the Negro Bill Canyon, named after the first African-American prospector/rancher in the Moab area, William Grandstaff. Based on my research, the canyon is usually overflowing with poison ivy. Luckily we went during winter when everything was dead because we didn’t have to worry about it. For the first half of the hike, the trail follows the river, crossing over it on stepping stones multiple times. Moose isn’t the biggest fan of the water (in fact he’s probably water’s #1 hater unless it’s in his dog bowl in or snow form), so I was a proud puppy mama when he made it across each creek crossing without any difficulty. He started off by following the stepping stones but soon gave up and just plowed right through the water. Although I was proud of his bravery, I was less proud of the fact that he was covered in wet sand for the rest of the hike.
At about the halfway point, the trail goes the left and starts climbing/descending more while still following the creek. At some of the lower points, all the vegetation was covered in a fine layer of frost. The ice crystals seemed to grow like flowers off the stems and leaves of all the plants and gave the hike an otherworldly feel. It was incredible but most of the magic was gone by the time we returned on the way back, so we were glad we had a relatively early start. Eventually the trail leaves the creek behind, climbing up towards Morning Glory Arch, which is technically Morning Glory Bridge. The arch/bridge is almost hidden in the walls of the canyon. After finishing the hike and doing some research, we found out that there’s an “easy” canyoneering route that starts from the top of the mesa and ends with a free rappel off the arch for the hike out.
After the hike, we had lunch at one of the few places that was open on New Years Day, Eklectica Cafe. Even if there are other options, I would recommend Eklectica. The food and coffee were amazing. I ordered the bagel sandwich and it was HUGE. I didn’t think I’d finish it but by the time we left my plate was empty. It was delicious and I loved every bite! We then returned to the hotel and rinsed Moose in the bathtub before he got sand everywhere.
After unsuccessfully trying to take a nap, I eventually convinced Jason we should go somewhere for sunset. We did a little research and opted on Arches National Park with a couple of ideas that were worth exploring. We drove right past the first two options before we decided on sunset from windows arch looking towards turret arch. It’s a classic Arches NP vista but we weren’t sure the clouds were going to cooperate. After a little investigating we found the perfect spot and waited patiently for the sun to approach sunset. We were joined by another photographer-couple and with about 5 minutes to go until the sun set, we were rewarded with the sun peaking through the clouds at the horizon! What a great first day of 2017!
After breakfast the next day and packing up, we headed towards home but opted to take the more scenic route following the Colorado river on UT-128 instead of the faster route on US-191. This meant I could finally fulfill my goal of hiking at Fisher Towers! Hiking to the base of the towers has been on my “list” since I first researched Moab in 2012. Jason decided he was tired so he stayed in the car while Moose and I went for a quick run along the Fisher Towers trail. The trail is amazing and I was Jason had come with his camera because I have some awesome wide-angle photo ideas for him. The trail wraps around the sandstone at the base of the towers and provides access for both hikers and technical climbers (we stuck to the hiking route). Moose did great on the more exposed sections and only balked when we reached a 6-foot metal ladder. He probably would have been fine jumping from the sandstone on side of the ladder to the other going down, but he would have had a hard time making it back up. We decided to turn around and save the rest of the trail for a pup-free day. Discover Moab says the entire 4.4 mile trail should take around 4 hours so I was pretty happy when we did 2.7 miles in 35 minutes. Jason makes fun of me, but I enjoy seeing how much time I can take off “recommended hiking times”. Taking 2 hours off an adjusted 2.5 hour hiking town is a big win for me!
Anyways, 2017 is off to a great start. I’m working on figuring out training plans and races for the year but that will have to wait for another day. Right now the sun is shining, the wind is calm (after 55 mph gusts yesterday), and I’m off for a bike ride! Happy 2017 everyone!