I’ve been an absent blogger lately. The weather has been getting nicer while my academic load has been getting heavier. Whatever free time I might have for writing has been spent outside instead. I’m home for Easter, so now I can write while sitting outside on my dad’s screened-in porch.
I went backpacking twice in March. I did a weekend at Sam A. Baker State Park in southern Missouri with Michael and our friends Ben and Jamie. Since it was fairly early spring and still a bit chilly, we had the place almost entirely to ourselves. The hiking wasn’t bad for Missouri.
This week Michael and I headed to Utah for our last college break. We got a backcountry permit for the Needles District of Chesler Park in Canyonlands National Park. We’ve been wanting to get back to Utah for some canyon hiking since our first trip there in 2007. Michael has had his eye on Chesler since Christmas when we toyed with the idea of going there for a winter trip in conjunction with my LVR staff reunion. Although we’ve been thinking about it forever, we didn’t actually plan the trip until the day before we left. First Michael thought he had to work over break. Then he thought he might have an interview in St. Louis. I was concerned about a total lack of money. But we decided to go for it and everything fell into place.
We left Columbia Saturday afternoon and drove straight through — about 20 hours. I’m proud to say I got to drive Michael’s stick shift Jetta, not that there was much shifting involved in going straight down I-70, mostly on cruise control. But still, I drove across the Kansas/Colorado border and across the Colorado/Utah border. We were ready at the park visitor’s center when it opened Sunday morning. We didn’t know if we’d be able to get a backcountry permit since we couldn’t book one in advance. We were blessed to snag one of about 4 that were still available for the next two nights.
Chesler was sweet. The best way to describe the terrain is…well…desert. Dust, sand, rock, not much living but cactus, ravens and lizards. Why would you want to backpack there, you may ask. The needles. They’re huge rock formations that have eroded into skinny columns that tower 100s of feet above your head. It’s an amazing sight. Everyone knows about the Grand Canyon, but little canyons are cool, too. We hiked down into Elephant Canyon, which has a broad basin with a creek bed cutting through it. We also got to do some slots– passages through rock so narrow you sometimes have to turn sideways to fit. They’re awesome to explore. We felt like Indiana Jones.
I’d like to describe more about the trip and post some pictures. But for now I’m trying to make the most of my short time at home to visit old friends, spend time with my family and get to church for Good Friday and Easter.