On Saturday (5/6) we headed north from Indian Creek and landed in Moab, a very outdoor-oriented town in southeast Utah. We got several real-world things off our to-do list including grocery shopping, laundry, and an oil change (4000 miles and counting!). We didn’t take much time to explore the town itself. Instead, we spent some time at a climbing area near our campsite and also visited Arches National Park and the Island in the Sky area of Canyonlands National Park, both of which are just on the outskirts of Moab.
Sunday (5/7) was primarily comprised of climbing and sorting out a rough plan for the upcoming days. On Monday (5/8) we drove through the Island in the Sky area of Canyonlands. The road ended at a nice viewpoint overlooking part of a canyon with a snowy mountain range in the distance. We didn’t do much else in the park that day other than a quick stop at the Visitor Center. I think our lack of eagerness to explore more of the park during this visit was the fact that we had plans to return in a couple days to hike into the canyon. Similar to our Grand Canyon experience, the hike would be more up our alley.
The next day (5/9) we spent most of our time at Arches National Park. Part of Arches was closed for construction so we only saw the southern area of the park and took short walks to a few of the more notable arches. The skies were overcast and the tiniest of sprinkles were falling as we started the 3-mile trail to see the famous Delicate Arch. The closer we got to the arch the more the sprinkles turned to real drops. Then the drops turned into a gusty torrent. It didn’t last too long, but it was enough to soak my clothes quite thoroughly. Thankfully when you’re living in a van you always have a change of clothes handy!
After we had our fill of Arches, we left the park and drove down a scenic road that follows the Colorado River. As we were passing a pull-out along the road we noticed two older men, likely in their 70s, outside of a parked car. Unfortunately, one of those men was lying on the ground. OT mode: ACTIVATED!
Alastair parked the van and I jogged over to
totally save the day ask what had happened and see if I could be of any help. I made sure to introduce myself as an Occupational Therapist so they would (hopefully) trust me to some extent. The man on the ground said he had fallen because his knee gave out, and he couldn’t quite work out how to get back up. I did a quick assessment to figure out which of his joints were original versus replacement, and made sure he was in good enough shape to attempt to get back up on his feet. His (rightfully concerned) friend appeared to have no problem stepping aside to let me take charge of the situation. And it felt great! I love being an OT and it’s been almost five months since I left my job. I really enjoyed the opportunity to teach a total stranger how to safely recover from a fall, and also gave some unsolicited advice about improving the height of his cane. His friend thanked me several times for stopping to help, and also gave me a handshake which turned into a hug. This gave me a little OT high and totally boosted my mood.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming. On Wednesday morning (5/10), we woke up to the only sustained rain we’ve encountered on our trip this far. This isn’t exactly something to complain about to everyone who’s been getting drenched back home in the PNW, but this was supposed to be the day of our hike into the canyon at Canyonlands. Being faced with continued questonable weather and not knowing what the trail conditions would be like, I vetoed the idea of still going on the hike. So now we were in a funk and needed a Plan B. We came to the conclusion that we had had enough of the area and, although we had initially planned to stay until Friday (5/12), we packed up and left a couple days early.
We are both planners so we rarely wing it with day-of logistics. Leaving Moab on a whim, though, turned out to be a great idea. I think we were both needing a change of scenery, which feels super obnoxious to admit since we’ve been submerged in beautiful landscapes for over a month now. While the desert had been a great experience, it was refreshing to go farther north and find trees! Big, tall, green trees!!!
After a few hours of driving we snagged a campsite at the Maple Canyon campground which is located in the Manti-La Sal National Forest, about 100 miles south of Salt Lake City. A major selling point for this campground was several nearby rock climbing areas, with easy enough routes for me to get in on the action. The canyon walls we saw and climbed were conglomerate rocks, a novel view when compared to the sandstone we had been seeing for most of our road trip. We ended up spending both Wednesday (5/11) and Thursday (5/12) nights here and really enjoyed our time climbing and relaxing in the forest. It was a nice reminder of home.