Day 22 – Grand Mesa to Manti-La Sal Nat Forest

Overland Camping Roadtrip Blog

Travel Day 22:

Total km driven to date: 4742km

Total km walked to date: 179.83km

Grand Mesa National Forest, CO – Manti-La Sal Nat Forest, UT

230km drive

11.26km on foot

                Today I said goodbye to Colorado, what a great state, I will be back! Stopped at Wal-Mart in Grand Junction in the morning, bought some more groceries and also a new tube for my bike (apparently self sealing in case of another puncture or 8) and a new bike seat since mine has been driving me nuts since they day I bought it. Very hard for a tender ass like mine. Then it was onto the I-70 to bomb to Utah, I wish I had stopped at a truck stop to fill up my water tank again since I’m guessing its going to be harder to come by a free water tap in the desert but I’ve got enough water for a few more days (I only use that water for dishes and Axel, I buy drinking water by the gallon for myself.) As soon as you pass into Utah the speed limit on the interstate goes up to 80mph….thats crazy, I keep it at around 60 or my mileage goes down horribly. We turned off the interstate onto HWY-128 and it was well worth it, the road winds down into the canyons following the Colorado River and you have towering red cliffs on both sides and some amazing views. The Colorado is dark brown water and moving very fast at this point. We stopped a few spots to take some pictures (as you see below) then about 40km from Moab saw a sign for Fisher Towers and decided to go check it out.

                Fisher Towers parking lot is about 3km from the highway on some very washboard gravel road but well worth the drive. The sign said 2.5miles to the end of the trail or 1.5miles (one way) to the Titan, which is the largest of the rock towers. I figured that was a 5km hike and not that bad so we set off on the trail. I brought a bunch of water and Axels bowl and thought it would be ok. Well I learned a few important lessons about the desert for a cold weather Canadian. Amazing trail up and down the canyons around the base of these huge cliffs and we made it out no problem with a few stops for water and to sit in the shade. We kept hearing voices but couldn’t see anyone until we looked up and saw some rock climbers hundreds of feet above us getting ready to rappel down from the top of one of the towers. As we were sitting in the shade watching them we heard a loud flapping sound and saw a guy go by them in a wing suit and pull his parachute shortly after. We started to head back at this time since it was 1:30pm and around 37*C. We stopped and talked to the wingsuit guy, he was flying solo (not with the climbers) and had came from the very top of the plateau BEHIND where the guys were climbing. He said the jump had never been done before and was about 2000ft of drop with a 40second flight and 15 second parachute. Never seeing that before I was very impressed!

                We continued on our way and Axel started to struggle, he was getting way too overheated for a big dog and kept stopping in every patch of shade he could find and whining. I was starting to get really worried about him and had to keep coaxing him to continue our walk. I knew he was having a really hard time since he wouldn’t even drink the water I was giving him so I took to pouring it on his back instead. Lesson learned, if you are going to go hiking in the desert at the hottest time of day make sure it is less than 5km and bring more water to keep my dog from overheating. I tried to shorten the walk back so we ended up scaling up some cliffs to try to make it back to the truck sooner. I was getting really worried and thinking I was going to have to carry Ax by the time we saw the truck. I then used the solar shower to soak him and he laid in the shade for about 1/2hr while the truck cooled down with the AC. We got back on the road and he was still panting badly even with the AC and I saw a boat launch to the Colorado River, we went down there and both of us jumped in. He just stood in the water for about 10 minutes cooling off and drinking. Disaster averted, no more mid-day hikes, either the morning or the evening or we will do sightseeing from the truck.

                We headed back down 128 and saw a sign for ” Manti-La Sal National Forest Access” and   headed up the road, it climbed from 4000ft up to our eventual camping spot at 8200ft looking over the canyon. We found a great shady spot in the trees and I replaced the tire on my bike and my seat and did a bit of camper maintenance. It’s an entire different climate up here with lots of big pine trees (down in the canyon it is desert, with only scrub and no shade). We took a short walk on the path behind the camper for some sunset pictures and called it a night.

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