September 12, 2006

5 Days in Moab

Some new things I learned over the weekend:
1) There is a mountain range West of Moab, UT called the Henry Mountains. The Henry Mountains are the last mountains in the U.S. to be names and they still have a wild heard of buffalo roaming the hills.
2) The Earth rotates at 900 mph (wow!)
3) Pistol Budding (see the picture of the Aspen Tree above), is when a tree is growing on a side of a hill and their first grow to the side and then straight up. The trees do this because their roots are actually planted up the hill but due to erosion and moving soil down the hill, the tree is pushed further down the hill until it can start to grow upwards again. This is a sign of unstable ground.

So, this past week I haven’t posted much because I’ve been in Moab, UT. I was unable to get to Internet access, I didn’t watch any TV and I enjoyed sleeping outside for four nights.

Moab is a small community in the desert of Southeastern Utah. It is full of great people, art and history. I was there for business but had a blast while I was there as well, meeting new people, sharing laughs, rafting and hiking through beautiful country. I went to Moab to pick-up donations for SPLORE’s auction that is coming up soon in October; to my surprise, most of the stores we went to were more that happy to support us. Everyone I met was friendly to talk to and they all enjoy the good work that SPLORE does.

Westwater Canyon Rafting

While I was down there, I didn’t do just work of course; it’s Moab! On Friday, some of our staff and volunteers took a trip down Westwater Canyon. Half the time it was cold and rainy, the other half of the time it was sunny; but most of all it was great. I loved seeing the clouds come in and over the canyon and then the sun breaking through to show the bright, beautiful colors of red sandstone rock and black, shiny Pre-Cambrian rock called Visnu-Schnit (bad spelling). Visnu-Schnit is the oldest Pre-Cambrian rock to appear in North America and it’s only found in three places in the U.S., including, Westwater Canyon and the Grand Canyon. The massive amounts of rainfall in this delicate area created a lot of flash floods and mudslides that are incredibly rare and beautiful to see. One mudslide erupted as we floated around a bend and the landscape gave way!

But perhaps the highlight of this rafting trip was getting dumped after going through the Sock-it-to-Me rapid and then being pushed into the magnetic wall where we high-sided, resulting in me falling out and floating down the canyon. Yesterday, I reported on this excitement if you want to learn more.

Best of all, this trip was a way to thank our volunteers for their support and a way to celebrate another great summer of providing outdoor recreation to people with disabilities.

Hiking in the La Sal Mountains
So the La Sals is a beautiful mountain range located on the outskirts of Moab. Surprisingly, these mountains are covered with aspen and spruce trees despite the fact that the La Sals are located in a desert. Some SPLORE volunteers, staff and I decided to take a hike up in the mountains. We drove about 10,000 feet in elevation before stopping to hike. Lets just say that chubby girls from Missouri aren’t used to hiking at this altitude. Hiking somewhat steep trails, my legs quickly started to burn and I was huffing and puffing like none other. After taking a few rest stops, I kept going, pushing myself because I knew the rewards will be in the effort. We hiked to Blue Lake (as can be seen in the picture above) and were surrounded by nature, solitude and beauty every step we took.

Delicate Arch by Moonlight
Once I got back from hiking in the La Sals, I met up with the rest of the SPLORE group. I was exhausted from being out of shape and hiking at that elevation. A friend suggested the idea that we hike to delicate arch at midnight, using the full moon for light. I had already seen Delicate Arch on an earlier hiking trip and thought it was wonderful. Now I had to decide if I wanted to let my body pass-out or keep pushing myself and not live with the regret of how this magnificent formation would look lit by moonlight.

We started the hike and I was surprised at how fast we got there (despite my struggles from the first hike of the day). Heather and I both commented on how fast the hike went compared to the first time we went to Delicate Arch. Nearing the top, I started to remember how awe-struck I was when I first went around the last curve in the trail to be revealed to this sandstone wonder. Again, I went around the last curve and was mesmerized at how grand the arch looked at 1:30 in the morning, lit only by a full moon. I must say, this once in a lifetime moment took my breath away.

We all sat at the top for awhile, all in our own peaceful thoughts and becoming belittled in the grandeur of our surroundings. We ended by letting out shouts to see who had the best echo. We were all alone in one of the most amazing places in the world…we had it all to ourselves and it’s a memory I will never forget.

The best part of this whole adventurous weekend wasn’t just spending time with good friends, seeing beautiful scenery or creating lasting memories; it was that I got to do all of this because I joined AmeriCorps. I’ll admit it, joining AmeriCorps and moving to Utah was out of my comfort zone, I was scared but now I’m completely grateful that I took a leap, trusted in faith and myself and have love ones to support me.


Caryn said...

What a fantastic experience! I especially loved your description of hiking to Delicate Arch. I'm jealous that you got to see it that way when no one else was there. We had crowds of people the last time we did that, but we were there for the sunset, too.

Susie said...

Hi Caryn,
Yeah, I've seen Delicate Arch twice now, one during the middle of the day in February and then at midnight just a few weeks ago...both times were almost like a spiritual event. For the midnight stroll, I really wanted to stick around until sunset so we could be the only ones there to watch the sun go up one of Mother Nature's greatest works of art, but we were all pretty tired and a little chilly...but now that gives me an excuse to hike up there again :-)