We did our one and only hike in Canyonlands National Park today. The Neck Spring Trail has lots of old cowboy history, beautiful scenery and is a true hiking trail. It is not a long walk at 9km. There were longer hiking trails in Canyonlands but Neck Spring Trail seemed attractive.
It was perfect hiking weather. Some sun breaking through with temperatures of 5 degrees (when we started) to 10 degrees (when we finished).
As the road towards Canyonlands ascended, the temperature dropped. No surprises there... Wide open spaces.
Nobody could claim that there was no warning about the potential for cattle grazing on or near the road. There were plenty of signs, cattle grids on a regular basis and then we saw the herd. Cows and calves on both sides of the road including some on it. Cute they are, really cute. Yes, we had to stop and check them out.
We headed out and immediately liked the trail as it dropped down into the canyon. Soon we stumbled onto this, later repeated several times. We think that these structures once contained feed for the horses and possibly other cattle.
Again we found some lovely plants along the trail in the harsh environment. We have no idea what these bright red plants were but we found them every so often along the trail.
Hans asked the Park Ranger about this hole too. What kind of animal would live there? She didn't know that either. In fact she did not seem to know very much at all.
We rounded a corner and came to Big Tit Mountain. If that is not the name, it sure should be.
And for the first time we had to cross water on a hike. A pitiful amount of water, but water nevertheless. The people in Moab said they needed rain but these springs are constant.
The views along Neck Spring Trail were very photogenic and we took plenty of photos. Of course, given the 2 dimensional context of a photograph, it can never look as good as the 3 dimensional reality.
Neck Spring Trail was supposed to complete the loop with a 100 meter or so ascent back to the mesa before following a road back to the trailhead. It probably did although it didn't feel that way. The 100 meters or so was divided into quite a long distance and it was not a hard ascent. The last "steep section" took less than 10 minutes and we were back on the mesa.
The return to the trailhead was on a combination of sand and rocks like the ones in the photo below. Big flattish rock formation. Of course, the views down on the canyons of Canyonlands were magnificent.
We were down there a little earlier...
Close to the trailhead you get a view of this (see photo below. The Shafer Trail is for mountain bikes. Disappearing into the distance close to Dead Horse Point State Park. All we can say here is wow!
After completing our loop hike, we drove a bit further into Canyonlands National Park to find a place for our picnic lunch. We found picnic tables and benches, but it was all a bit too cold, windy and alpine up there so we soon hustled back into the car and were on our way again.
A final photo of the snowclad La Sal Mountains in the distance. Apparently, there are bears and elks and other big animals living there, but we didn't get a chance to explore those mountains. Time ran out and tomorrow we will be on the road again...