November 7, 2016
Canyonlands National Park Needles District, Utah
This was the first National Park that we visited that I hadn’t heard of ahead of time. Brad was overdue for a long run, so we dropped him off at the end of a 3-mile dirt road in the late morning. While he ran the girls and I did 3 small hikes – one was to an 800 year old granary left over from Puebloan communities, and another was to look for life in potholes in the rocks (there hadn’t been enough rain to fill the potholes…so no tiny shrimp sittings).
But the crowd favorite was the Cave Springs Trail! This loop took us along some alcoves in the canyon.
Then the trail meandered around the canyon walls and up two ladders to the top of the small mesa. These two ladders proved to be the highlight of the girls’ day…nay, perhaps their whole lives. They managed to mention them on every page of their Junior Ranger book, wrote and drew about them in their travel journals, and have told everyone willing to listen about “the hike with 2 ladders”. It really was pretty fun, and when Coral was half-way up the first one she stopped and announced, “I’ve never climbed a ladder before!” So I guess it was a pretty big deal.
On top of the little mesa, the girls insisted that they wanted to hike alone and that I should stay at least 10 seconds behind them. Sunny was in mothering-mode and really wanted to help Coral with her activity book. So after following the trail from cairn to cairn across the rock for awhile, they found a shady place to sit and do their books together, and I enjoyed a peaceful time within earshot for about half an hour.
When we decided it was time to go find Brad, we finished our hike. The girls walked and skipped hand-in-hand singing songs about being best friends for the entire hike back.
When we picked up Brad he told us about the amazing 11-mile run he had finished, part of which took him through a narrow crack in the rocks called The Joint. He said it was such a fantastic run that he found himself just looking around and smiling. For all of these unexpected great joys and good moods in this national park that I’d never heard of, we decided it was officially the most fun we’d had as a family on a national park day trip. Hooray for Canyonlands!