Island in the Sky, January 2012

Discussion in 'Hiking & Camping' started by Nick, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. Nick

    Nick >_

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    I went down to the Moab area with lostlandscapes and another friend over this past weekend. After the nice weather and conditions over my New Years trip to the Vermilion Cliffs, I was jonesing for more desert goodness.

    We left Salt Lake pretty late on Friday afternoon and didn't get onto the highway to Moab until after 9. The plan was to camp outside of Island in the Sky so we could get to Mesa Arch early the next day for sunrise. We stopped along the way at the Tusher Tunnel. We didn't find any good campsites nearby but we still went and checked out the tunnel. It was the first time for all of us so pretty neat to see it in the dark. As we walked into the tunnel, I heard something above and looked up to see a couple of ravens nesting there about 10 feet above us.

    We continued to the other end of the tunnel to keep from disturbing the ravens where we proceeded to take a few photos.
    island-in-the-sky-2.jpg

    lostlandscapes got a way better shot of the light show than I did. I had accidentally left my camera on Small-JPEG! :facepalm: Maybe he'll post one up.

    After spending a bit of time there, we drove up Butler Wash onto the iSky mesa to a spot Summit recommended. It turned out to be a great spot but I imagine it would have been busy any other time of the year. We didn't get into camp until nearly 11 so it was close to 1 by the time we were in bed. None of us setup a tent that night because we wanted to get out fast in the morning. Fortunately, there was ample slickrock around to sleep on.

    That night turned out to be one of the coldest nights I've ever camped in. The low in Moab was predicted to be around 20 but I swear it was single digits up on the mesa, especially with a light breeze. I was actually a bit cold in my big zero degree synthetic bag for the first time.

    Side note: ever want to sleep without a tent but you're worried about frost accumulating on your face? We figured out a trick to avoid that on this trip. Just take a camping chair and lay it on its front over your head. It makes a nice shelter for the top of your body that will catch any frost that might accumulate. The rest of your sleeping bag might get a bit but at least you won't have it up top.

    We were all up just before 6am and loading up camp. From there it was a short 15 minute drive to the Mesa Arch trailhead. With the frigid cold temps, I thought we might get lucky and have it to ourselves but there were two other cars in the lot when we arrived. The darkness was just barely starting to lighten as we started hiking down the short trail to the arch. Upon arrival we discovered that the arch was already to glow a bit, a good half hour before the sun would come over the horizon!

    Here's a few shots of the light show. Most of these have had little to no editing, the colors really look like that in person!

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    lostlandscapes getting his shot.
    island-in-the-sky-6.jpg

    There were quite a few photogs out there but everyone got along really well. When the sun was cresting over the horizon we were all side by side with tripod legs intertwined but everyone stayed really friendly.
    island-in-the-sky-4.jpg

    After sunrise we went over and hiked to False Kiva. Beautiful views along the trail.
    island-in-the-sky-8.jpg

    The lighting sucked for taking photos. I had no choice but to do an HDR and it wasn't turning out well so I went black and white.
    island-in-the-sky-9.jpg

    After False Kiva we went to go hike Aztec Butte. We were stoked to see an empty parking lot until we saw this sign at the trailhead.
    island-in-the-sky-10.jpg

    No explanation why the main butte was closed. Fortunately the smaller butte with the little granaries was still open so we hiked to them. I hadn't been to the smaller butte yet.

    island-in-the-sky-12.jpg island-in-the-sky-11.jpg island-in-the-sky-13.jpg

    Whoops. Meant to upload another shot of the granaries that showed them in their setting. They're actually good sized and hidden under a huge ledge. I'll post that later.

    A very cool old juniper along the trail with one patch of green left on it.
    island-in-the-sky-14.jpg

    Next up we planned to go drive down the Shafer Trail and do some exploring between there and where it enters Moab. I had admired the awesome Shafer switchbacks on previous trips but never done it before. So I was really pissed when we started down the road and found out it was closed!
    island-in-the-sky-15.jpg

    Here's a shot of the Shafer Trail from a seperate trip:
    upload_2015-1-7_20-12-2.png

    It seemed like the stuff we wanted to in Canyonlands wasn't panning out so we decided to head over to Arches. I wasn't sure how busy the campsite would be so we went straight there to get a site so we would have a place to go later that night after staying out to take star photos. The campground was a ghost town and wouldn't you know it, it was half closed. We wanted a site further down on the loop but the farthest we could go was to site 24 before we hit a gate. We paid out $20 and setup camp and soon found out this would not be the last thing that would be closed. The bathrooms were all locked up! Way to charge $20 and not let me use the facilities, Arches.

    We had a bit of time to kill so we hiked the loop out of the campground that passes by Tapestry Arch and Broken Arch. We had the loop all to ourselves.

    Tapestry Arch
    island-in-the-sky-16.jpg
    island-in-the-sky-17.jpg

    lostlandscapes hiking the loop.
    island-in-the-sky-19.jpg

    island-in-the-sky-18.jpg

    Broken Arch
    island-in-the-sky-20.jpg

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    After the loop hike it was about time to head over to Delicate Arch to shoot sunset and stay for some night photos. The skies were clear, perfect for star trails! We loaded up and started up the trail passing by plenty of people on their way up and down. It seems like that trail is packed no matter what time of the year it is.

    About a half mile in, I moved to the side of the trail as we passed by some people and slipped into an erosion in the trail. I rolled my ankle and hit the ground hard. Something popped or ripped and the pain was excruciating. I think I laid in the dirt screaming obscenities for a while before I could even get a grasp of what just happened.

    Eventually I got a hold of myself and came to the realization that I had really messed my ankle up. There would be no continuing on to the arch. No sunset and no star trails. Damn. I told my friends to go on and I would make my way back to the truck to which they laughed. After a few minutes they helped me onto a rock where we took off my shoe to find it was already swelling badly.
    swelling.jpg

    I couldn't put any weight on it so we went about hiking back to the trailhead by hanging my arms over their necks and moving one step at a time. That sucked. Not only was it painful and awkward but I had to deal with passing by countless tourists. Have of them tried not to make eye contact and the other half would offer help. I even had a couple offers for a piggy back ride!

    We met a doctor along the way who gave me an impromptu examination. With the limited tools at hand, he guessed that I had broken a bone above my ankle in the process and advised me to get an x-ray. On we went, back to camp, pack things up and back to Salt Lake.

    I went into the hospital the following morning. The ER doc looked it over and said that it wasn't a question of if it was broken but rather what bones. But then the x-rays turned up nothing. So now I've been referred to an orthopedic doctor. It's been 4 days now and my foot is far more swollen than in the photo above. I'm in an air cast, can't fit it in a shoe and have to do everything on crutches. I guess it's a good time of the year for it though. Really hoping it's ready to rock come spring time.
     
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  2. Deadeye008

    Deadeye008 Hambone

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    Nice shots of Mesa Arch. I still need to hit that place for a sunrise. Sucks about your ankle!:facepalm:
     
    ibenick likes this.
  3. Nick

    Nick >_

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    What an awesome place to tie the knot, Richard. Did you pay someone off to stand at the trailhead and fight people off? :haha:
     
  4. John Fowler

    John Fowler Member

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    Great report, Nick. I was out there in August of 2010 and visited almost the same places. At Delicate Arch the crowd was huge and we sat around for at least an hour as one couple or group after another stood under the arch for a photo. There was another photographer there with a thick Italian accent who kept yelling things like "You wanna ice cream there? You waitin for lipstick?" It was a hoot. Finally enough photographers were yelling that the photo-op folks gave us about 5 minutes.

    Here's a shot of a small part of the crowd.
     
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  5. Nick

    Nick >_

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    Thanks, John! (I got it right this time! :haha:) That's hilarious about the italian photog. I was shocked at how easy going all the photogs at Mesa Arch were. I've had some bad experiences in iconic spots like that. Specifically in The Subway.

    For some reason I can't see the photo you uploaded. Maybe try it again. You should just be able to upload and then click 'insert into post'. Let me know if it's not working for you.
     
  6. Deadeye008

    Deadeye008 Hambone

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    We hiked Delicate Arch this past Easter weekend in the morning when it was raining a little and basically had the place to ourselves. As we were coming back down there were herds of people going up. We had timed it just right.
     
  7. John Fowler

    John Fowler Member

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    I uploaded the photo using the "Upload a file" button but then couldn't figure out how to add it to my post. If I click on the insert/edit image button it asks for a URL so that's probably not the way to do it. This morning I don't even see the photo that I uploaded. Typical noob problems I guess. I haven't seen 'insert into post' anywhere.
     
  8. Nick

    Nick >_

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    You're one step away. After you upload the image, you then click either the Thumbnail or Full Image button to insert it into the post. The uploader is pretty slick once you get the hang of it. You can upload all of your photos and choose where to insert them by placing your cursor and then clicking the Thumbnail or Full Image button. See below:

    insertimage.jpg
     
  9. Miss Buffalo

    Miss Buffalo Never give up!!

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    really nice shots, Nick, especially the Mesa Arch shots. :twothumbs: I never made it out there for sunrise, maybe next trip.
    It really sucks with your ankle. Hope you're healing soon and back on trail.
    I hiked Delicate Arch last summer on a full moon night, that was pretty awesome.
     
  10. John Fowler

    John Fowler Member

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  11. John Fowler

    John Fowler Member

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    _DSC1402.jpg
     
  12. Nick

    Nick >_

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    John Fowler, click the 'More Options' button when you are replying to get the added image insert options.
     
  13. John Fowler

    John Fowler Member

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    thanks. Eventually I'll get this figured out. In the meantime, feel free to delete any of my posts that don't show up well.
     
  14. HomerJ

    HomerJ Member

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    It took me a minute to figure this out too. Don't know if there's a way to make it more user friendly?
     
  15. dsphotoscapes

    dsphotoscapes New Member

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    Delicate Arch, its wet slickrock unspoiled after a HUGE fast moving thunderstorm.
    I left the parking area as soon as the rain let up, and met numerous hikers coming down soaked like drowned rats. When I got to Delicate Arch, there was no one under the arch, no one at the bowl.....a VERY special time.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. pixie1339

    pixie1339 Desperately Seeking Sandstone

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    Great report Nick! That's a bummer about your ankle. I hope it heals up quickly. My son and I hiked up to Delicate at the end of November to catch the sunset, hoping that the crowds would have died down a bit by then. No such luck! It was tourist hell up there. No clouds in the sky either, so I could tell sunset would be a dud. We hiked down and caught the very anti-climactic sunset at Balanced Rock instead.
     
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