Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Syncline Loop Trail

Enroute to somewhere, anywhere, that was warm enough to rock climb we decided to stop for a couple nights in Moab, Utah. Although not quite as warm yet as we had hoped, a long day hike was in order to break up the driving part of the trip.

One of the few loop trails (rather than out and back) was Syncline Loop Trail in Canyonlands National Park. In addition to the sign that said "this trail is strenuous and difficult to follow" there was also a sign that advised more people get lost on this trail than any other in Canyonlands.

Map & compass?  Check.
GPS? Check.
SPOT? Check. 
All the other essentials? Check.

After a couple false starts leaving the parking lot, trying to figure which trail actually went anywhere, we were on our way. It was -5 C but as we got lower in elevation and the sun got higher, we stopped a couple times to strip off layers. 

The views were fabulous! Various shades of red and brown; caves high in the rock walls; sheer cliffs; and bits of ice clinging to moss on the walls.

Neither Andrew nor I found the trail to be particularly strenuous or difficult to follow. The first half was all downhill and although there was a relatively short section of steep uphill coming back around the other side of the loop, it was mostly fairly gradual uphill and then levelled off near the end of the loop.

There was snow on the trail in the shady aspects so we could follow footprints on occasion and there were a lot of cairns. If you weren't paying attention it probably would be easy to lose the path. The trail is 13.3 km and took us five hours.
At the lowest part of the loop. No flash floods today!
A marker showing the way through a little scrambly part.
Crazy shades of rock.
Out of the sun.
We saw a few small birds but the only other signs of wildlife were rabbit tracks and a small burrow and tracks possibly from a fox or something like that.

This differed from our past few days of driving during which we saw snowy owl, ravens, hawks, deer, antelope and wild horses. (Links are to Andrew's blog and photos.)

In Moab we're staying in Bogie's Bungalow at 3 Dogs and a Moose Cottages. Very unique and within walking distance to restaurants, coffee shop and grocery store. A soak in the hot tub after driving was good too!

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