Canyondlands: The Needles

For Valentine’s day and the President’s day holiday, Derek and I headed to southern Utah for a 3 day weekend getaway. Derek had previously signed up for the Red Hot Moab 33k, so we decided to cram in some other fun activities while we were in Moab for the race.

On Saturday morning, we showed up at the race start point just off Gemini Bridges road and watched as those running the 55k (including Rob Krar) began the race. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect! It was sunny, but cool and barely a cloud in the sky. I headed off to find a good spot to see Derek start right before the race began and then he was off. While Derek was running 20 miles, I ran a few on my own, got ready, and had some delicious pancakes at the Pancake Haus. I planned on heading back up to the race in time to catch Derek finish like I always do, but the chatty checkout lady at the pancake place, the distance out to the parking lot, and having to take a bus from the parking lot to the finish line made me miss him by a few minutes! I hate missing Derek finish a race because I want to be the one cheering him on to finish, but there wasn’t much I could have done to prevent it. Derek said it was a good run with great views and, although what he thought was a 17 mile race turned out to be 20, he was feeling pretty good.img_8679img_8683We left the race, got a little snack, and decided to head to Arches National Park to do some short hikes. We did the hike out to Landscape Arch and saw a few other arches a long the way. After the quick trip through Arches, we found a hostel where Derek could get a 3 dollar shower (we’d already checked out of our hotel as we were camping the next couple nights) and tried to find a campground. We drove along the river north of town for awhile looking for a spot, but with the race, the holiday, and the free entry to the National Parks that weekend there were no camping spots available. We headed south of town and finally found a local RV park/campground that had some available spots for the night. We set up camp and the went back to town for the race afterparty back at Eddie McStiffs. We ate free appetizers as we mingled with other racers and the party ended with a speech by Rob Krar, a big ultramarathon runner that Derek is fan of. We got to talk to him for a bit after he was done and he was very friendly. He even posed for a picture with Derek!img_8824img_8693We turned in for the evening after that and spent a cold night camping at our spot overlooking the town. The next morning we packed up and met a friend for breakfast at Peace Tree, a local health food, juice, and coffee place. The friend we met, Stacy, is a fellow runner/traveller that we met during our stay in Patagonia. We bonded with Stacy, her three girlfriends (the “quarto chicas” as we called them), and the other runners that were there for the Patagonia International Marathon, so it was great to catch up with her and plan the next race we could see each other at.

After breakfast, we made our way out to Canyonlands. We picked our campsite, set up camp, and began our afternoon hike to Druid Arch. This hike is about an 11 miles round trip on a decently marked path (although I would not want to do it at night). The views on this trail are spectacular, the Needles District of Canyonlands is almost like being on another planet. The first couple miles of the trail are fairly smooth, easy enough for us to do some trail running, but the last 1.5 miles are mostly loose rocks and sand. We approached the last quarter mile and saw what looked like a giant pillar in front of us. We turned to the left, scrambled up the last part of the trail, and as we turned back to look at what we thought was the pillar and it turned out to be the 450 foot tall Druid Arch. We were both amazed at how massive the arch is. We hiked around a bit and took some pictures and then Derek decided to climb to the base of the arch. I sat and watched and took a moment to say a silent prayer to myself. I never cease to be in awe of how amazing God’s creation is and how blessed I am to get to experience so much of it. As I finished thanking God for the day an old hymn suddenly popped into my head. It may be familiar to some of you, but for those that don’t know it, here’s how it goes:

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

And when I think of God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!img_8821img_8818img_8826img_8708img_8768How fitting the words seemed to be given were we standing. We made our way back along the trail and back to our campsite. That evening, after a dinner of vegetarian chili heated up over our camp stove, we climbed up into a little rock nook above our campsite, we listened to music and talked under the stars and then climbed into the tent for a good night’s sleep after a fun filled day.img_8820img_8769img_8819The next morning we did a little more trail running along Slickrock trail and then said good-bye to Canyonlands for the second time. We both agreed that the Needles is our new favorite part of a National Park in Utah. We grabbed some lunch at the Moab Diner, which claims it has the best green chile in Utah (pretty good, but it was no New Mexico green chile). As we left the diner in our sandals and short sleeves, we were greeted by a sudden snow flurry/rain storm. What good timing to end our beautiful weekend in Moab! We made our way home with a quick stop along the way at the Price River where Derek caught 3 brown trout that we baked and ate the next night.img_8770img_8771img_8815img_8822img_8775Another wonderful trip. Another successful adventure.

Jaclyn

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