February 13, 2016 I wasn't sure whether this should be listed as "backpacking" or "hiking and camping" because we went through all the motions of backpacking, but we didn't end up staying overnight. I figured it was closer to backpacking, so here you go. Friday, after work and school were over for the weekend, my wife and I headed down to Moab, and we stayed at the Hampton Inn. The plan was to drive down to the Needles the next morning and backpack in to Chesler Park. We got to the Needles pretty early. No one was at the entrance booth, and a sign was posted that said there was no fee. Score. We drove to the visitors center, got a self-serve backcountry permit (I love backpacking in national parks in Winter), and headed over toward Elephant Hill. The road there was pretty good other than a flooded low spot we had to splash through. Looking back, it was probably a bit sketchy for us to have attempted it in a 2WD sedan, but we made it in and out just fine. Warnings had been posted at the visitors center and the trailhead about a mountain lion that had been sighted a few times in the area. We weren't lucky enough to see it. We were surprised to see 5-10 other cars at the trailhead, but it made sense since it was Presidents' Day weekend. All were on day hikes except us. We had left our Microspikes at home, and we regretted it as soon as we got on the trail. There was ice in nearly every shady spot. It sure made the going slow. Much of the slickrock wall near the trail had ice hanging on it. As the sun got higher in the sky, the ice began to melt, and we often heard ice crashing from the walls to the ground. As we got closer to our destination, the snow became more prevalent and got deeper. I love the look of the sandstone with snow. After a very slippery, snowy, icy ascent, we made it to the entrance to Chesler Park. We descended into the park quickly and headed toward CP1, our destination. We got there and saw that the sandy spot where people generally pitch their tents was covered in snow since it was in the shade. We found an ok but slightly cramped spot over next to a big rock and set up there. It was a beautiful afternoon. I really wish I had taken more than one picture of our campsite because this one sucks. We snacked a bit and headed out to check out the trail beyond the campsite. It was nice at first, but after we dropped in elevation just slightly, the trail and even the big fields became flooded and marshy. So we turned around. I liked this little overlook just South of where we set up. As we were nearing camp, we saw a low-flying raven. Interesting, because I hadn't seen any flying that low the entire time. Even more interesting was that, when it got nearer to us, I could see something large and ring-shaped held in its beak. It was a bagel. For an instant, I thought, "well, that's funny. I wonder where it found that." But I quickly grasped reality. We had packed two bagels from the hotel this morning, and we were the only people around. I took off, cursing and running back to camp. A few more ravens were seen flying off with stuff. When I got back, all I could find was our Ziploc bag with holes in it and a few packages of fruit snacks. They had flown off with nearly all the food we packed. It was certainly our fault since we had forgotten to put the food inside the tent (or maybe they would have found their way in there, too). I had never read anything or even considered the notion that ravens are such efficient camp robbers (not confusing them with species of birds actually known as "camp robbers"). The word "ravenous" now means a lot more to me. I had family members tell me later that they have had ravens unzip compartments on their snowmobiles to get into food. Smart birds! One was sitting on a ledge up above us, watching us and croaking. So we sat there for a few minutes, considering our options. It was a little after 4 in the afternoon, and we had less than 2 hours until sunset. We could just stay the night and eat what little we had, or we could head out and have warm food and get another hotel room for the night. Since the hike out isn't long, we decided to leave. Winter backpacking is hard enough given the reduced hours of sunlight and cold temperatures. So we chickened out and packed up and scurried on out of there. We made a stop at Newspaper Rock on the way out. All the hotels in Moab were booked, so we ended up driving all the way to Price. Any disappointment I felt at the time was abated because I got a voicemail from the University of Utah College of Law after we got there saying that I had been admitted. I debated whether or not I'd write a report for this trip because I was embarrassed, but I think it's a pretty funny story. And maybe someone naive like me will learn from it. Hopefully our food helped those ravens to survive the winter.