Ahhh spring. The time of year I've been most excited for. The past few months have been a lot. Moving across the country, figuring out jobs and networking, moving again, getting a pupper and fiiiiinally...taking a breath. We are settled. Mostly. We've got things figured out. Mostly. And we are ready for true adventure. Our calendar is full through the end of August. Plans of excitement and new things. Mountains and rivers and freedom. And last week was our first of these plans- a lovely and peaceful trip to Moab, Utah. Jon and I had never been out that way! So it was priority number one in our travel line up. Bivy had never been in a tent and had never spent more than 7 hours outside at once. So in true Rosenberg fashion, we decided to do all of these new things at once. Because why bite off a chewable amount? Unthinkable.
We loaded up the van and got Bivy all situated in his crate. Which he just loves. Van crate to him equals adventure and play. This is pleasing and we clearly have done something right with him as far as that's concerned. Yay! We hit the road around 5pm and knew we'd be in store for some pretty crumby mountain driving on I-70. There was snow in the forecast and as soon as we got past Golden, all the signs were warning that chain laws may be going into effect and to expect dangerous conditions. Neither one of us has experience with these roads in poor conditions. And our van is... not always the most reliable vehicle in the world. So the adventure began immediately, with our drive through Breckenridge and Vail. It was kind of scary, but not as bad as it would have been had we started driving and hour later. And I guess overnight this area was hit pretty hard. We drove to the Colorado National Monument to crash for the night. Our goal was just to get closer to Moab so we would essentially have an extra full day. Unfortunately we did not get to see the National Monument, because we arrived late and left before sunrise. But I'm sure it was glorious and we intend to visit it in daylight at some point :)
The drive from the western edge of Colorado into Utah was gorgeous. We made it to Utah for sunrise and were so excited to see snow capped and jagged peaks in the distance. These mountains were visible for the duration of our trip, which came as a total surprise to us. We expected desert and red and hot and river. Not mountains. What. A. Treat.
The free-range cows and the wide open sky were breathtaking. As we dropped into the canyons, the world turned orange. The rock was orange. The blue river reflected orange. The only things that were not orange were the blue skies and green scrub. We stopped by the Colorado River to enjoy the scenery and let Bivy have a break. It was pretty hard to rationalize how lucky we were in that moment. Peace, love and dreams coming true. A family of wilds experiencing the desert together. Gratitude doesn't come close to expressing how that feels.
After the mad scramble to acquire a home on the Colorado River, thanks to BLM land, we put together a very quick camp spot and hopped back into the van. By 8:45am we were in Arches National Park. With a dog, National Parks are not the same. You must keep them in the car or on paved areas. And for us, this means taking the scenic drive, leaving the car for up to 15 minutes for photo excursions and deciding where we need to head after the park, where Bivy can enjoy all the things we want to also enjoy.
We did like Arches. It was beautiful and unique. Very expansive and wild. But so much backcountry that we were unable to explore. This probably skewed our perspective on the park in a negative way. We would have loved to see more, but it wasn't in the stars. What was most dazzling about this area to me were the wildflowers beginning to emerge and the stark contrast of sky and rock. Also the stark contrast of desert and alpine mountains far in the distance. That was remarkable. By the time we left Arches, it was becoming quite busy with tourists and mega buses. I feel so lucky to have been there. And while it definitely is not my favorite National Park, some of the views were magical.
Up next on what we deemed our "tourist" day was Canyonlands National Park. And holy shit, what a park it is! The canyons are vast and deep and colorful. There is a danger to them that is appealing and exciting. Bivy was quite worn out by the time we arrived and the weather was cool enough to allow us some dog-free play time. It was inspiring to photograph such a massive landscape. And quite a challenge. The wildflowers here were vivid against the blue sky, green grasses and purple (yes, purple) canyons.
This National Park is about half an hour from Arches if memory serves me, and is way less busy. I think this is due to the much more wild terrain of Canyonlands. It is less accessible and way more beautiful. So if you find comfort in backcountry and solitude, this may be the perfect park for you. We absolutely plan to go back, but with pack rafts... more on that later!
In Canyonlands, you can feel history. You can feel the energy of the past and it is easy to imagine the humans who once thrived in the area. That familiar sense of feeling small is ever-present. It's simply amazing.
After many hours away, and a very messy picnic in the van, we drove back to our home in the canyons, in the river. And if that isn't the perfect home, I would love to know what is. It was quiet, aside from the running water, birdsong and rustling leaves. We had shade and sunshine. We set up our hammock and found plenty of wood to have fires. A tiny piece of heaven is where we pitched our tent.
Above you will see a photo of our very scary camp protection dog. And below you will find sights from our tent. Like I said... pretty good place to call home for a few days. There were many eagles and many friendly birds. We had two camp lizards and a few camp spiders.
The rest of the trip was a total delight. No tourists, few humans, stillness, wild land and surprises everywhere. We hiked to Longbow Arch one morning and I have to say- it may be one of my favorite hikes in recent history. The desert terrain is a challenge for both navigation and reading the land. It is new to me and I can't wait to learn more about it. The cactus were as charming as the slick rock. Bivy loved scrambling and running in the sand. The wildflowers were blooming and bright against the dark orange sand and rock.
I imagined Moab to be very monotoned. But as it turns out, it is vivid in many colors. This was a main take away for me during the whole trip. The greens are so green, blues so blue and every other color is so true.
My heart soared when we arrived at Longbow Arch. It was massive and surreal. This area is not busy and we had total solitude for hours. Our voices echoed, and I imagine people miles and miles away could hear our laughter. I believe places like this are preserved in the most beautiful way. When you step foot on the rock, you are seeing what humans saw hundreds of years ago. And that is neat.
We hiked back to the trail head and got back into the van. A short drive got us to petroglyphs left by the Anasazi people. They were everywhere. Down low and up high. Everywhere. I cannot emphasize enough how small this whole trip made me feel. To see what people saw so long ago. To see communications left so long ago. The experience will never leave me. There is an energy that penetrates deep.
This is Deadhorse State Park. It is near Canyonlands and they allow dogs on trail and in back country. So naturally we checked it out and were excited for Bivy to see the lay of the land. Unfortunately, at this point, Mr. Biv had done enough and we were reminded that he is just a tiny baby. So we took a short walk and he mostly chilled in the car.
And this is when Jon and I had some deep talks about our future. This wilderness inspired both of us immensely. And with our new addition to the family, we are beginning to see that some parts of our adventure life are going to be very different. National Parks are less accessible. Massive days on foot can't happen until pupper is a little older. Mountaineering and backpacking are hands down the passion in our spirits. So to prioritize and maximize the play, we decided to sell our fat bikes for pack rafts. We want to explore the rivers and lakes. We want to portage and push further. And Bivy will definitely be able to enjoy the rest that comes with rolling down a mountain-lined river.
Near our camp was a large area of canyon that we played in one afternoon. There were so many lizards! They are so foreign to me and I am obsessed.
We drove home on a very beautiful and sunny day. When we entered back into Colorado it felt like home. The mountains welcomed us back. I cannot wait for the next handful of months. Adventure is around every corner. New sights, sounds and smells. I look forward to getting to know the west better and in so doing, know myself better.
Coming home is always hard. The lights are too bright, sounds too loud. It is difficult to adjust to traffic and day to day tasks that have no real bearing on survival. But this trip is a reminder of what the future is and what the present is. Which is good. It's all good. Life is good.