Monday, September 26, 2011

Canyonlands National Park & the Syncline Loop

Canyonlands National Park – 09/15/11 – 30 miles from Moab Utah to the Island in the Sky region of Canyonlands.  Over 300,000 acres of canyons, mesas, buttes, and arches. 
Self portrait

Heed the warning!

I decided to test myself on the Syncline loop trail “a long hot day hike over one of only three loop trails in the district” with 1,200’ of drop including some very steep scrambling into Upheaval canyon.  I should have known better than to do something that mentions “scrambling” but I figured I could handle it.  A lot of the trail followed dry washes and I had to be very “ON” to stay on the trail.  I didn’t see another person out there, but someone had hiked it within a day (I saw some foot prints) and it was fun to see where they went wrong and where I went wrong based on footprints.  I ran the trail clockwise taking only two short breaks.

Start of a very scary section
 The first break was in a really steep section of scramble where I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue on the trail.  I absolutely loved about 90% of the trail, 5% was tougher than I like, and 5% I was scared big time.  This was one of those 5% times and I just sat down, had some water and collected myself.  The views were spectacular and I was actually looking forward to the switch back climb the ranger had mentioned.  I hit the 4.9 mile trail junction in 1:22:28 which was a bit slower than I’d hoped.

I thought I could do the loop in 2-2.5 hours (it is a 6-8 hour hike).  I figured the 4.9 mile would be about half-way because there would be a lot of climbing in the last 3.4 miles.  I really must have been slow on the tough descent, I climbed out in 55:21 and was at the trailhead covering the loop in 2:20:11.  There were two parts on the climb that I was a little nervous scrambling and made full contact with the rock to make sure I didn’t slip.  All in all it was a blast!
heading up

Climbing up this lip was a bit scary
This section is the one I stopped on the way down.  Very rough and steep "scramble".

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