Thursday, June 1, 2017

Day 9- June 1- Islands in the Sky

Yesterday, we visited the Needles Section (southern) of Canyonlands.  Today, we visited Islands in the Sky, which is the Northern section of Canyonlands.  It was our first day out to hike with mom and dad! 

Our first hike was to Grand View Point, which is very appropriately named.  The hike is 2 miles along a steep cliff that you hope to avoid falling off of.  With that being said, the rocks there are plenty large enough so that you do not feel like you are in danger.  
There are so many different majestic views along the way that it is impossible to capture the beauty of all of it.  

The views of the canyon are parallel to the Grand Canyon, but we like Canyonlands even better than the Grand Canyon.  There are SIGNIFICANTLY less people here than at the Grand Canyon and the way the park is set up allows you to feel even closer to the canyon.  

Once we got to the viewpoint, we paused for a 10:00 snack and just took time to soak it all in.  There was only one other family up there the entire time we were up there.  They were a family of 5 that was here visiting from London.  There are no words.  

My life long hiking partner.  
On the way to and from the point, Dad filled the boys in on cairns, which are used to mark trails on rocks.  They are small statues of rocks that you are able to add to, but should never knock down.  This entire trail was marked with them where the bottom three rocks were permanently attached with a metal rod.  This is so you always have sight of where the trail should go.  
I did tell him that if he fell off of the cliff to make sure he tossed the camera back up so we wouldn't lose the pictures.  

After that hike, we hiked up to Upheaval Dome which presented a completely different look of Canyonlands.  This hike totaled 0.6 miles.  

That light rock is 2 miles in diameter- even though it does not look like it at all.

After we hiked Upheaval dome, we were able to get a picnic table at these great little gazebos that were covered.  We didn't take too long to eat because the gnats were terrible.  They were not that bad when you were hiking, but they were TERRIBLE when you sat down to eat.After lunch, we hiked up whale rock- appropriately named based on the shape.  This hike is similar in terrain to the hike at Stone Mountain although the elevation out here makes the hike that much more difficult.  The view was amazing, although we realize that we are saying that a lot out here.

We then hiked to Aztec Butte, which is the highest point in Canyonlands.  This was a 2 mile hike round trip.  One of the coolest parts of this hike was that we could see a storm brewing out in the distance and see the streaks of rain coming down.  We did get a little bit of a sprinkling, but that was it.  These types of hikes are exactly what my boys love.  Climb over big rocks and see how dangerous you can be.  

The picture below was taken on our way back down the hill.  You can see how loose the rock is and how far down it is.
We even found a granary on the way down.  This used to be used to store grains in so that they would not get wet because they were up under the cliffs.  

On the picture below taken from the top of Aztec Butte, you can see Whale Rock in the middle of the picture.

Our last hike of the day was 1/2 mile out to Mesa Arch.  This was beautiful because on the other side of that arch is a very steep drop off.  You could look through the arch and see the mountains and canyons in the distance.  It had been pouring here while we were on top of Aztec Butte, but the rain had stopped by the time we got there.  

On several of our hikes today we say prickly pear cacti that were starting to bloom.  The Native Americans used to use these as a source of food.  My favorite color of bloom was the bright pink. 
All in all today, we hiked 6.4 miles.  The boys do an unbelievable job hiking!  

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