Utah & Arizona, the Wild Wild West
You would think that after the cacti-filled deserts of Texas and the majestic Rocky Mountains of Colorado, we were prepared for anything. We weren’t. Driving and hiking through Utah and Arizona will remain some of the best memories of our lives. If you’re looking for some wide open sky experience and some red dirt, don’t look no more. These States have everything you need. As well as some very annoying German/Austrian tourists, but let’s save that for later.
The road from Loveland, Colorado, to Moab, Utah, should have been a hint that the landscapes we were about to set foot on were breathtaking. ‘Luckily’, we arrived in Moab at night which saved the surprise of the city’s surroundings for the next morning. First was The Lazy Lizard Hostel. Best. Plan. Ever. A few hours later, we were drinking beer and chatting with Jake and Cavin (hi guys), two base jumpers. But what is base jumping you might ask. Fair question. It’s basically people jumping off whatever is high enough (a skyscraper, a hill, a big-ass rock…) and throwing their own parachute by hand as soon as they can. Only a few people die each year, no biggy. We were lucky enough to see Jake jump off a huge red rock a few days later.
And that was just the beginning. In the following days, we explored the Arches National Park, watched the sun set on Canyonland from Dead Horse Point State Park, and “drove” (it was more of a rallye) through the sacred Navajo land of Monument Valley, joining Utah and Arizona. No words are needed really, the pictures speak for themselves.
Just three things. First, please meet Gunther. Gunther is a tourist, probably from Germany or Austria, not sure, so we chose to name him Gunther. Gunther is an asshole. Gunther shouted at us, from the other side of the park. ‘To you hafe to sit unter ze arch?? Get hout of here! Not eferyboty wants you on their pictare!’ Yes Gunther, we actually had to sit under the arch because it was the only place to sit to shelter from the sun, in the middle of Utah, at noon, in August, among other tourists. And we had a great view from there! Unluckily for us, Gunther kind of looked like a ranger from far, which made us move before realizing what he really was. A pain in the #?&. (hi Gunther)
And it was hot indeed.
Also, [SPOILER ALERT] Canyonland is the place where Thelma and Louise jump from at the end of the movie. Needless to say, we were feeling quite emotional watching the sun set over this historic landscape. *Hellooo*
Finally, Monument Valley is where Forrest stops running (thanks Morris for making us notice), and where most westerns were shot. Also, not the best place if you like to wander around.
Then it was time to go see the west side of Utah, which is every bit as beautiful as the east side. We attacked the ascent of Angel’s Landing and (barely) survived this very steep trekking path taking you on top of Zion and back in about 5 hours, 500 meters high. We explored the vast red stone fields of Bryce Canyon, that look like a lost city of an ancient civilization (hi Camilo, hi Juan).
We left Utah for Arizona to see what all the fuss around the Grand Canyon was about. It’s no lie, grand it definitely is. Still sore from Angel’s Landing, we started with its north rim and watched the sun go down on the Canyon, filled with the smoke from the fires in California. Then began the longest drive in Sarah’s life - 5 hours, in the night, driving along the curves of the Canyon, at 30mph, stuck behind a trailer that simply couldn’t be passed. On the next day, we headed for the Petrified Forest National Park, showing complete trunks of fossilized trees from 200 million years ago, perfectly preserved and now turned into colorful stones. One of this trip’s major mindfucks. But that’s not all, the Park also shelters Petroglyphs (mostly drawings) from native tribes from 600 to 800 years ago, as well as striped sand dunes. Unique.
Then came the Great Hike. 9 hours in and out of the Grand Canyon in a day, going all the way down the Canyon right above the Colorado River, and climbing all the way up again before nightfall (which we almost achieved, except for the last hour in the dark). Simply magical. Except for the snake we (Sarah: by "we", Adèle means her, as I was only courageously standing behind, on the brink of fainting) had to scare off when climbing up at dusk. But what would canyons and deserts be without a few snakes every now and then?
> Hiking 12 miles in Grand Canyon: check
> Almost fainting from thirst: check
> Seeing soro cacti: check
> Scaring a snake with a rock: check
> Witnessing a base jump: check
> Drinking diluted beer because it’s the Mormon way to deter alcoholism: check
> Spilling all of one’s egg and potato salad in one’s bag: check
What we liked
> The canyons, all of them
> The red of the rocks and dirt
> Being able to survive Angel’s Landing
> Not dying of thirst right after thanks to wonderful gals
> Finding friends to explore the country with us for a few days 🙂
> That little natural pool in the middle of nowhere
What we didn't like
> Monument Valley’s crazy road
> Not being able to explain to this crazy Russian (?) couple of 15 yo that it’s dangerous to climb down Grand Canyon at night, without a light, without a reservation to sleep down there, without food, without water, and without warm clothes...without a brain apparently