To be more specific, we spent Thanksgiving about 20 miles up-river from Moab at the Sorrel River Ranch, which was quite luxurious compared to our normal accommodations. We actually only went into Moab a few times for groceries and to eat one dinner. The Moab area encompasses so many recreation and wilderness areas within an hour each way (Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, La Sal Mountains, Castle Valley, Dead Horse SP, etc, etc.) that you could spend a lifetime here and not exhaust the possibilities. We have now spent probably 100 days in the area, including 4 Thanksgivings, and we still find new things to do each time, along with a few of our favorites from previous visits. I must be a Desert Rat at heart because I always feel very at home in this area, or really any area where the high desert and mountains meet. We are lucky to live in such a pretty location ourselves, but Moab is one place where I think both Judy and I could see ourselves living.
It was snowing lightly when we left, but the roads weren't too bad. Things got off to a rough start however when we stopped at a bookstore in Denver and I locked the keys in our truck. Doh. Despite my initial instinct to just break a side window, we called a locksmith and waited for an hour to get the door unlocked. Judy is now in charge of the keys. I70 through the mountains was a mess, and it took us forever to get over to the Western Slope, but then the weather cleared up and we got to the ranch by about 7:00 PM. Due to the weather and the fact that my truck doesn't have a shell, we had put our packs and luggage inside large garbage bags, so it was a moment right out of Tommy Boy when the Valet guy at the Ranch came out to help us with the bags. Our cabin was great; about 50 feet from the Colorado River.
Room With A View
The resort is also the finish line of one of the two road half marathons that run along the Colorado River on Highway 128.
The highlight of Thursday was hiking around the Fisher Towers, which are a bunch of amazing spires containing layers of sedimentary rock in various shades of red-brown, red-purple, and maroon. These are classic climbs, but sketchy due to the flaky mud that coats the towers. We talked to several climbers who had just finished an aid climb of one of the towers, and unfortunately just missed 2 BASE jumbers who climbed another tower and then jumped off.
It snowed over night, and continued for several hours in the morning, but fresh snow on the red rocks of canyon country is always an amazing sight and worth the frozen hands I got while running along Onion Creek (so called due to the Sulphur it contains). In the afternoon, we did a hike up Negro Bill canyon to Morning Glory Bridge, which at 243 feet wide is the 6th largest such span in the US.
Unlike arches which are formed by erosion (wind, rain, freezing/melting cycles), a bridge is formed by flowing water. A year round stream flows out of this canyon, and provides moisture for a variety of riparian zone plants.
Who Said Nothing Lives in the Desert?
We then went up-river one canyon (Jackass Canyon) and hiked on the Porcupine Rim trail, which is one of the more famous mountain biking trails in the area. Bikers usually go one way (the downhill way) but we started at the bottom and hiked up. From this trail, you get great views of the Colorado River and the La Sal mountains.
La Sal Mountains
We saved our bike ride for what was supposed to be the warmest day. We started at the bottom of Onion Creek road and rode up into Fisher Valley. You cross Onion Creek 22 times so our bikes and legs were soon caked with mud.
After riding through a narrow canyon with formations that look like sand castles on both sides, you emerge into the Fisher Valley which is a large flat expanse with 2 ranches and great views of the La Sals. Here you also intersect with the Kokopelli Trail, which is a classic 142 mile trail running from Moab to Loma Colorado (near Fruita). We road out this trail for several miles, then enjoyed the 17 mile, freezing descent, back down to the start.
Onion Creek Road
It was crazy cold this morning, but I needed to start running before light in order to be done in time to eat Breakfast at the resort (we'd heard it was very good). The ranch has a nice flat paved road that circles the property (.9 miles) and so I just ran laps around this till it got lighter, then headed out to a BLM trail I'd seen the day before and did an out-and-back. This "trail" turned into a cattle path, then just a wash that winded its way up a pretty valley. I then checked out the Fitness Room in order to sneak in my 2nd weight lifting session of the week. At breakfast, we went with the buffet and tried our best to eat 16 bucks worth (each!). Then, it was an uneventful drive home and back to reality.
Mon 11/19 – Walk 1:00:00, Weightlift
Tue 11/20 – Walk 45:00.
Wed 11/21 – 0. Drive to Moab through snowstorm and bad traffic.
Thu 11/22 – Run 1:06:00 on BLM land through Professor Valley. Hike 1:45:00 Fisher Towers area.
Fri 11/23 – Run 2:02:00 on Onion Creek road in light snow. Hike 4:00:00 in Negro Bill canyon & on the Porcupine Rim trail.
Sat 11/24 – Run 2:06:00 on La Sal Mountain road through Castle Valley and right by Castleton Tower. Bike 3:30:00 Onion Creek/Kokopelli Trail.
Sun 11/25 – Run 1:46:00 flat roads and rocky BLM trail. Weight Lift. Drive home to CO.
Week – 7:00:00 / 55 miles