This camping experience was VERY different from my previous two trips.
1. It was only Ryan and me. Henry stayed home with Ryan's parents.
2. It was literally only Ryan and me. We did not go to a "normal" campground, where campsites are right next to each other, people are all around. We were the only two people at this camping location, literally in the middle of nowhere, beautiful nowhere, but middle of nowhere.
3. We would be going to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in Utah. Our campsite was called Devil's Kitchen (does that make you feel warm and cozy?) accessible only by Elephant Hill Road (where do they come up with these names?).
Ryan knew this experience was going to be very different, and he knew he needed to make it the best experience possible. He carefully informed me the campsite had no "facilities" which means no toilets, showers or running water. What!?!? I always bring a ton of water, and I never shower when we go camping, but no toilets, No, not going to happen, this is not going to work out. Ryan went to trusty REI and purchased the nicest camping toilet I have ever seen (I don't have many, or any camping toilets to compare, but I have to assume it's the best). We had our own private bathroom for this camping trip, and I must admit, after experiencing some of the less than pleasant campground toilets, I am all for bringing our own toilet for future camping trips.
So Ryan successfully managed to get me on board with the camping toilet. Then he decided to let me know the other bit of news, the only way to access this campground was on a Jeep "road"." I say road, but it wasn't. It was a "Virginia Lee is worried that we are going to get stuck, break the Jeep, and since we are in the middle of nowhere, we will not be found and we will be stranded" road. At one point in the drive, there was a sign stating, "stay on the designated road" REALLY?!?! Thanks for the reminder, but I saw no designated road, the entire drive! Also, we had no cell phone service the entire time!
Gourmet camping meals ✔
Personal toilet ✔
Camping confidence ✔
I was ready for this camping experience. We said goodbye to Henry. Drove to Canyonlands National Park, Utah. Arrived at the rangers station to check in for our camping trip. Met a very nice Ranger. Told her what camp site we would be staying at. She asked what kind of vehicle we had. Asked Ryan a ton of questions I did not understand regarding his Jeep's capability. And then she asked one question that caused me to stop breathing, "Do you have the ability to self rescue?" My first thought, self rescue?, what, like if we break down and no one finds us, yes, we have food that will last three days. Ryan, obviously correctly understood the question because he responded, "Yes, we have a winch." Apparently that was the correct response because the Ranger smiled, and said "good."
Do we really have the ability to self rescue? Am I really ready for this? Why did that Ranger smile at me like she did? Is there something I don't know? Let the camping experience begin. I was nervous beyond belief.
We continued to drive into the park, following the Ranger's directions, and came to a large parking lot. I started feeling a bit better, this looks good, there's a parking lot, so we can't be too far out in the middle of nowhere. By this time, the cell phone service was gone. Ryan kinda laughed when I expressed that I was feeling better since there were so many cars around, and then he pointed to the back of the parking lot. It appeared to be a rocky mountain. He said "that's the road we are going to take to our campground." Excuse me? I see no road.
|So thankful for this clearly designated road.|
We successfully made it to our campsite. BEAR did an awesome job. Ryan did an awesome job. I could relax, until I started thinking we had to drive the same road to get out, but that would happen in a few days. I may as well enjoy the time in this beautiful area.
|View of our campsite. We had our own caves.|
|Exploring our campsite area. That's me way up there.|
|View from our campsite.|
|Ryan named this rock, Cupcake Rock. I agreed, it was the perfect name.|
Our full day in Canyonlands National Park was spent hiking. We hiked over 15 miles that day. The goal was to see Druid Arch. It was a beautiful hike, plenty to look at, and a portion of the hike was in an old, dry riverbed. It was pretty neat to think how the area must have looked when water was still flowing. The Arch was the perfect spot for a hiking lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The return hike to our campground took us through some really tight areas. After such a long hike, I was thankful Ryan brought his camping shower, and had even purchased a camping shower enclosure. Ryan was pretty proud, I showered during our camping trip. But after hiking all day, one has no other option.
|We decided this Needle got tired, and fell over.|
|Thankful for all the cairns to mark our way. |
This cairn was in the dry river bed we were hiking through.
|Some tight squeeze hiking on our way back to our campsite.|
To be so far out in the middle of nowhere, without anyone else around, the quietness was incredible. The stars were so bright, absolutely unbelievable. We've all seen stars before, but until you see them without any light pollution at all, it is an entirely new experience. This whole spending time in nature is a pretty cool thing. There are some incredibly beautiful areas of our country and I am thankful I am getting to experience them.
And just to let you know, we obviously, safely made it out of the campground. The drive was just as scary, I was nervous. And when I get nervous on Jeep roads, I tend to take lots of pictures to distract myself from what is actually happening. So, feel free to check out all the pictures from our Jeep driving, camping, and hiking in the beautiful, Needles District, Canyonlands National Park, Utah.
|Bear successfully made it out.|
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