Day Three, September 15, Mileage 404, 1,648 total
Thanks to a good night’s sleep in a real bed, I got an early start to my next leg, on the road by 7:30. I pushed up and over the continental divide, bypassing the temptations like taking Loveland Pass or hiking through the glowing aspens.
I was on a mission to make it to Goblin Valley State Park in Utah before the walk-in campsites were full. According to the Ranger yesterday, mid-week they don’t fill up until 5 or 6.
I stopped for fuel in a wonderfully-named town in western Colorado called Parachute. I wonder where the name came from? However, what struck me was the prevalence of Colorado’s newest industry, weed. I hadn’t seen a single store in the Denver area, but here in Parachute, population 1000, were three of them, all conveniently by the interstate.
All I can assume is that the weed tourism industry is alive and well. If it becomes legal in neighboring states, I imagine quite a few dispensaries will go under.
I hit the Utah state line at 11:45, which also brought the first blue skies of the day.
I continued to blast my way to my destination, assisted by the legal speed limit of 80 mph! Arriving at the State Park at 1:30, I was disappointed to find no vacancies. Tired of driving and seeing plenty of BLM parking lots/campgrounds scattered throughout the area, I settled down in a wide space near Little Wildhorse Canyon, a relatively famous “slot” canyon.
And that was the real reason to get to Goblin Valley. I have always wanted to hike through a slot canyon, and the last (and only) time I was near here was with Kymberlee in our journey east to Nashville. The slot canyons were a bit too remote for her, so I tucked the idea back into my bucket list hoping that I would have another chance. Chance given and opportunity taken.
Originally planning on hiking the canyon the next morning, I realized that I had plenty of time to do it before the sun set. This was not a technical canyon, but after reading Between a Rock and a Hard Place, I did wonder if it was foolish to do this on my own. Throwing caution to the wind, I took the loop option, heading up Bell Canyon, traversing behind the “reef” then heading down Little Wildhorse Canyon, which was around 8 miles and about 1000 vertical feet of ascent and descent through some incredible scenery. Enjoy the gallery below (mouse over or touch for captions).
It was a great hike, with hardly anyone else in the canyons until the last half mile. I chimneyed my way past several pools of water, as it had recently rained and left many signs of mud and gravel flow. Many times my footprints were the first ones since it had rained.
This was the first serious exercise for the trip, and after three days of sitting on my butt, it felt good to crawl into my sleeping bag at the end of the day. It was almost a full moon, eliminating the value of stargazing in dark sky country, but it did give me a great view from my bed!
I slept very well knowing that my bucket list was a bit smaller now.