4.22.2012

The Maze


Sun rise view of La Sal Mountains
I look around and in every direction I see incredible rock formations, vibrant spring flowers, and stunning skies.  I am in the Maze District of CanyonlandsNational Park.  The Maze is the least accessible district of Canyonlands. The Maze is rarely visited due to its remoteness, difficulty of roads, and trails. This is my first week of three that I will be spending in this remote desert. 
The Maze: Chocolate Drops
Horseshoe Canyon: Holy Ghost panel in the Great Gallery
Alcove Gallery
Day 1: Horseshoe Canyon hike. Ok, so I’ll admit right off the bat, I am not much of a hiker; in fact I’d say that I don’t even like it very much at all. In my opinion there are few reasons to hike, summiting a peak or skinning to make some creamy backcountry turns.  Anyway, I digress.  Today, a 7mile out and back hike to The Great Gallery, a wall featuring pictographs from the Desert Archaic culture.  The pictures are both etched and painted with mineral rich paint made from iron, manganese, and other minerals. Very similar to the minerals found in desert varnish.  These archaic people where believed to have left the canyon in 1300 B.C. leaving only these pictures behind. It’s a powerful thought to think about the habitat and quality of life of the people hunting and gathering in such a harsh environment. Hike and all it was astonishing and I am very glad I did it.


Day 2: Drive.  Some would say big deal you drove all day. This is no ordinary drive. With a fully loaded F450 Western Spirit style and heinous rocky steep terrain, it was no picnic. The Flint trail, very steep, narrow, and rocky. In one section I had to do a five point turn to negotiate a hairpin turn albeit in four wheel low with a harrowing precipice below.  The constant rocking stayed with me all the way through dinner that evening. Something like the feeling you have after being on a boat all day. 


Day 3: A 14 mile sandy hike through the Maze district. Today we drop in the canyon from Maze Overlook. Today,was my most memorable scenery from the trip. We circumnavigate Chocolate Drops, view more pictographs, lunch at Chimney Rock, all while in the presence of astonishing landmarks such as Elaterite, Bagpiper, and Ekker Buttes. We spend the day above, in, and below the different rock layers of The Maze. On the hike we have some exciting scrambling at the beginning and end due to the lollypop shape of this particular hike. The scrambling was really fun with a group supporting each other and shouting beta back and forth. “ Left foot down six inches, hand hold up and left a twelve inches. “ Once we reach the canyon below it’s a seemingly endless sandy walk down canyon and eventually out to Chimney Rock. We finish along the mesa back towards camp. 8 hours later we are back in camp and preparing dinner for 8.

Day 4, 5, 6:  Finally some long awaited riding. 84 miles worth of fun 4x4 trail. We experience all types of terrain, sand, rock, dirt, technical rock riding. This particular trip I had a rockstar family that improved with every mile. Hans, an 11 year old was the stand out who had extrodinary balance and determination to ride just about anything. He sessioned each tricky technical section over and over again, up to 11 times at one point. It was fun to have such a coachable talented youth to help overcome these obstacles. It reminded me of myself when I first began mountain biking. I had a single-track mind, so focused on learning to become a better mountain biker. That’s all I thought about. Now; it’s most but not all I think about. We would finish long days in the saddle and our little shredder would not give it up, he was always right back on his bike, riding back and forth working his technique, trying to wheelie, ride over obstacles, and so forth.  Little Hans is a great example why I love my job. To give the same opportunities I had and to share the wonderment of our astonishing planet with other likeminded people. There is no doubt Hans had the wanderlust, and I saw the gnarlust was developing quickly. I think we all can be reminded by Hans to live life to the fullest, which means mastering skills, seeking adventure, and living with a beginner’s eye.

3 comments:

  1. Wes, it's Ella!! I just read this with Hans and he was super psyched!! We miss you already and can't wait to do another trip sometime.
    -Hans and Ella :)

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  2. Hans sounds rad! I know that feeling; being stoked on learning something new and not wanting to stop for the day... just keep going. What an amazing way to start your season- great group of people and in the beautiful red rock country in spring. Nice observations and recap, Wes. :)

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  3. Ella, I'm stoked you found the blog. It was a great trip, I love your family. I cant wait to see what you write and your photos. They must blow my iPhone photos away. Keep it up : )
    -Weston

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