Day Four on LoA Trip (Part One) – Canyonlands National Park – Capitol Reef National Park

Even far away, I know it’s her by the way her dark hair tangles with the wind and how she stands on the red rocks of the Carving. She’s more beautiful than snow.
Is this real? She points to the sky. — Ally Condie

Waking up  

Rise and shine, Sunshine! The first morning waking up in the tent. I felt the chill from the night before, still lingering into the morning, with the sun starting to peek through the clouds. Ellie was awake. Imagine that. She wakes up on a dime. Anytime daddy is about ready to vacate wherever I am, she is rearing to go and make sure I know it. Perked ears, excited smile, and body ready to pounce in the direction I am about to move towards.   

I unzip the screen exit of the tent, then unzip the vestibule area, and Ellie and I are FREE AT LAST. I clip her to the leash, and we then go for a short walk to get her bowels and bladder emptied. She does her ‘downward dog’ yoga stretch move, whilst groaning discreetly. It feels good to be moving about. She squats her hind end down in a few spots. She IS a girl dog, she ain’t the ‘lift a leg’ type of piddler.   

We walk for a few minutes towards the Green River Overlook (of which we hadn’t seen as it was dark) that we had perused last night for a déjà vu potty walk. She did her hunched back signature bowel release move. As the responsible dog daddy, I yank out one of her scented poop bags from the leash-connected container. I grab wide and deep. Grabbing some of the earth that was blessed with her defecation.   

As we got back to our site, a vehicle drives by. The person rolls down their window and asks me if I was leaving. I informed him I was, but not until later. He was polling to see if the site would be available for his family’s desire to camp there that evening. I pointed him to the board that had the instructions for registering. I also recommended he place his registration behind mine in the little clip at the site number post. He took care of the registration and then took off.   

Once that was tied up, tightly, we walked back towards the vehicle. I placed Ellie in her comfy taco, shut the door, and traipsed across the small street, to use the bathroom, unlike her. I prefer a bit more seclusion. I am normally not proud, nor do I like to make a spectacle of my bathroom habits. That little girl is brazen as fuck. She will look into my eyes as she pinches a loaf or waters the weeds.   

Once we get her and my lavatory rituals out of the way, I pour some cold brew coffee andverify that the little monster was in her taco. Check! We going adventurin’. Mind you, all we had seen was the entrance into the park. I was ignorant as to what this park had to offer. I won’t say my expectations were low, but I was ready to be surprised, but wouldn’t take it personally if this turned out to be a dud.   

I quickly unhitched the trailer, and off Ellie and I go. We vacate the Willow Flat campground as respectfully as possible. I hate being the person who negatively affects others due to the ignorance of my surroundings. If I wouldn’t like something to happen, I make damn sure I don’t conduct myself in the way I dislike. Ellie had no one to bark at as the other early risers were gone before us – or the other lazy asses were still sleeping.   

Heading into the Park  

At the T intersection for the campground, we went the way we didn’t come in through. The Park is a one-way in, one way out, so you cannot loop through, like other NPs. We followed the signs pointing towards Upheaval Dome. It was a quaint drive that took about 10 minutes or so. So many formations along the way to look at, and tempting viewpoint pull-offs on the road. I opted to defer the distraction and continue to the end of the trail we initially embarked on.   

Starting off on the trail with the sun still rising

We finally pulled into the parking lot of the Upheaval Dome. There was only one other car there. As it was fairly cool, less than 50 degrees out, I felt comfortable leaving Ellie in the car. I found the trail signs. It appeared the lookouts were only a little over a mile in. A mile in, a mile out, I walk at a brisk pace. Suspect, even with the distractions of fifty bazillion photo ops, it wouldn’t take me over 1.5 hours. Gauging by the position of the sun, time, weather, and where the vehicle was parked, Ellie would be safe.   

Facing east as the sun crests the horizon

I got on the trail. I moved briskly, for Ellie’s sake. Again, its strategy allowed me this luxury. Following the rules of the park, felt acceptable, though I still would have rather she hiked with me. The sun was cresting the eastern formations, casting its warm light deep into the canyon. I figured, if I hurried, I could beat the sun reaching some of the lower depths of the chasm. I still got distracted by picture-worthy moments. Phone in hand or pocket, and heart set to high-pace, I was going to get this hike in and capture so much. My first pic was snapped at around 7:00 a.m.   

Deadwood always captures my attention, especially with that background…

I captured so many impressive views, and I don’t say that egotistically, but merely how I gauged the view even before I captured its essence as best I could with my phone. The redness was so deep with the sun lightly gracing the top of it. The shadows supplied the depth, and the sunlight accented it. The trail was outlined with rocks and logs/branches. It seemed nebulous in some areas, but I looked for the worn areas of which humans traveled. I appreciated the hard work the NPS put into helping people stay on their ideal path.   

At one of the overlooks

I reached the first then the second overlook. Snapped many pictures of the terrain. It wasn’t as large and expansive as Grand Canyon, but this had its own allure. I came across deadwood, erosion potholes, and fabricated stone pilings along the way. In the 42 minutes, it took me to get to the second overlook and back to the parking lot, I had snapped 100 pictures.   

Panoramic pic at one of the overlooks on the trail

Not to toot my own horn, but a brisk pace, desire to prevent Ellie from being alone too long, a good eye for photogenic subjects, and a solid cell phone with supreme camera lens technology aided in me conquering that territory so fast. I’ve hiked many trails, back home, Washington state, and elsewhere. When I hike with Ellie, we both complement each other’s pace. As she ages, I do pay closer attention to her speed. Trying not to force her to go too fast. But as long as she shows interest in hiking, she sets the pace, which is still quite quick.   

Manufactured rock sculpture with the sun beaming below it…

I head to the vehicle. As this was a picnic area, there was a modern bathroom building. More like a fancy stationary port-o-potty that you didn’t need to worry about tipping over by some drunken assholish shenanigans. An NPS staff member was cleaning out the bathrooms. I notice them just doing their own thing and thinking to myself: I would ditch technology and clean shit in any national park. Sort of like anyone who has a wet dream of working at a zoo – just to be close to all those animals.   

One of the final pics as descending upon parking lot from trail to overlooks

Once I get to the vehicle, I opened up the rear passenger door and check on Ellie. She seems content. I let her know I love her and then hop in the front seat. Drink some water, as I was parched. Start the engine, and off to the Green River Overlook, near the campground. We hadn’t walked all the way there, as it was about a mile away from the campground. We did get some edge of a cliff that allowed us to see the gorge.   

From the Green River overlook

The Overlook was well manicured. Red rock cement sidewalk, nice commercial fence to keep people from the edge. Plenty of parking, and more impressive views of the area where we camped nearby. I snapped a bunch more pictures. I grab about 20 this time. Even snap some of the signs denoting the history and relevance of this overlook. It was well worth the trip there.   

Zoomed in shot of river down in basin from Green River Overlook

Preparing to Leave Canyonlands National Park  

Once that was tackled, Ellie and I head to our campsite to tear down and pack up. I am always grateful I chose the tent that I did. It is super easy to put up and take down by myself. I love being autonomous, especially in nature. Nature, in this case, is defined as anywhere but home. The tent is lightweight, and if I ever got the gumption to do remote campsites that one would have to hike to, it’s the perfect one for it. It’s big enough for Ellie and me. I could easily fit another human and still have some room for Ellie, I believe.   

All the point was, is that the tent goes up and down super quick. The contents, on the other hand, maybe not so much, but alas, one must be strategic. I have a Thermarest blow-up mattress, that is also lightweight, a yoga mat, which gives grip, Ellie’s bed, two pillows, a sleeping bag that comes with a cinch sack, and a small little LED camp lantern that hangs from the hook at the roof of the netting inside the tent.   

Rolling up the mattresses takes about 5 – 10 minutes. The sleeping bag takes about 3 minutes to wrestle into its cinch sack. The tent takes about 15 minutes to take down, and neatly stow away in the provided bags, for the poles, tent, flyweight rain cover, the tent itself, and the stakes. All this can be done in about 20 – 25 minutes, with the right motivation. For me, the motivation was to get to the next park.   

As I got our gear stowed away carefully in the SUV, so as not to steal any more precious real estate from Ellie’s taco, I noticed the fancy port-o-potty being cleaned out by another NPS staff member. Once everything was cinched up, stowed away, and reconnected (namely the trailer),   

One final shot before leaving park fully

I chatted with the NPS staff gentleman. Asked him a question about something I thought topically confusing about the rate for the campsite. He answered to the best of his understanding. As I was finishing up, some elderly people were pulling in, trying to make heads and tails of the registration process. A lady asked me where the envelopes were, and I brusquely informed her where to find them. She didn’t seem pleased with my answer, but when she followed my explicit instructions, she found I wasn’t lying to her.   

Outside of park, heading towards Capitol Reef

With Ellie securely tucked into her taco, we vacate the campgrounds. Onto the next adventure in the litany ahead of us. We leave Canyonlands, and I enjoyed the view on the way out. We left Canyonlands around 9:00 a.m.’ ish and trekked out the way the GPS app suggested onwards to Capitol Reef NP, once I had connected to cell signal. Canyonlands had sparse cell service, but what should one expect? The red rocks became sparser between the two parks.   

Some mammoth erosion in formation

The skies were blue, the road grayish with yellow, white, and black splotches along the way. The landscape was kind of sand or light-colored dirt. It was a nice respite from loads of red I saw at Arches and Canyonlands. The landscape became flatter, with some white-capped mountains off in the distance. The elevation went down a bit and then we would pop back up to see some cool jutting formations.   

High desert, aiming for Capitol Reef

Capitol Reef National Park  

We pulled into Capitol Reef NP around noonish. The red came back extremely strong, but only for a short while. It was there, in your face. Stevie Wonder could have determined the rocks were red. As per usual, we stopped and took a photobomb pic of Ellie next to the huge sign. She was less than enthused, but humored me.  

Unenthused Ellie at park sign with so many witnesses

We also had a bit of a time crunch as others had similar ideas for themselves. I heard multiple people comment on how cute my dog was. I was merely focused on getting the pic and letting others have their turn, so we didn’t get all artsy-fartsy with the shots. Once I captured enough of a reluctant Ellie, we sauntered off to the vehicle. She was lifted up into her taco and off we went, into the park.  

Heavily wooded with river flowing nearby, driving into heart of park

There was no one in the entry shack to check for passes, so we cruised right on in. The visitor center looked busy and didn’t seem to have adequate parking for our trailer. Ellie and I just putzed down the road, Enjoying the beauty that lay before us. It was gorgeous. There were signs to some trailheads that seemed to be 10+ miles down dead-end roads. I wasn’t too keen on exploring, knowing I wouldn’t be able to bring Ellie.   

Short path to vista

We did make a couple of stops in the park at some cool vantage points. The weather was cool enough on this day, so I could leave Ellie in the vehicle with the windows down. I hit the short trail to the vista, to grab some panoramic pictures. The Park is kind of weirdly pieced together. It looks like a park I may want to traverse back to when I am without a dear doggie in tow. What I saw of it, by no means, exhaustive, was still awe-inspiring. It was short-lived, as the main highway through it, may have been about 10 – 20 miles at most, inside the park itself, without taking any of the dead-end gravel roads.   

Panoramic shot from overlook near exit on Highway 24

We exited the park not long after the vantage point stop. On the way out, I noticed the sign into the park, entering the way we were exiting. As I wasn’t super pleased with Ellie’s pics with the sign, we flipped around, for a re-do. I was much more pleased and we were not rushed nearly as much, since we were the only ones there.  

Ellie more in tune with her photo op….

Closing  

As this day was relatively long, with seeing 3 red-rocked parks, I will put this blog entry to pasture here. I will recap some of the mental processing though, before fully closing down. While I jam out to lots of music, it was this deep into the road trip that I knew I needed to work on myself. I would parse through 3 different podcasts that piqued my interest before I left.   

I want to share the three podcasts I would sift through. I will share later how each one played roles in my understanding of myself. I want to make these available to all, as tools for my own potential healing. I will provide a review of these at the end of this LoA Blog project. I would recommend starting with the first episode of each one to see which ones may resonate best with you, IF and ONLY IF you find you have dealt with mental health issues that seemingly take over your life.   

******************************************************************************************************************

  • Complex Trauma Recovery; We Are Traumatized Motherfuckers | Jessica Beaudoin  
  1. Apple  
  1. Google  
  1. Spotify  
  1. Podchaser  
  1. WEBSITE  

******************************************************************************************************************

  • Unbroken: Reclaiming Your Self After Childhood Trauma | Pete Buecker  
  1. Apple  
  1. Podbay  
  1. Hubhopper  

******************************************************************************************************************

  • Depresh Mode | John Moe  
  1. Apple  
  1. Google  
  1. Spotify  
  1. MaximumFun  

******************************************************************************************************************

As always, I welcome any constructive criticism, or complementary theories, analogies, anecdotes. I would love to hear if you find these edicts of challenge useful or utter horseshit. Similar to the ’90s when the catchphrase, ‘Be Kind, Rewind’ was hailed as a marketing genius. I need to come up with one that invites you to either subscribe, via WordPress or email, like posts or even comment on posts. Immediate feedback is useful for anyone. Thank you very much for reading through all of this drivel. Be well, stay safe, AND stay sane!  

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