Day 15 to Day 19. Good bye Colorado, Howdy Utah

It has been a while since my last post. I hope you didn’t worry about me. If you did, please know that this will happen every now and then on this trip, due to the wonderful nature of being offline and far from cell service for multiple days in a row. This time I simply forgot to post this article before I left Moab. I have been fascinatingly far from internet or any kind of reception for the past seven days and have just reached something resembling civilization a few hours ago. I will be posting everything I have written in those days today. But first: Here is the last article about my days in Moab.

I have left Colorado and on a rainy day I seamlessly floated into the state of Utah. Colorado had offered me cold temperatures but so many warm hearts. There seems to be some a gene of openness, kindness and compassion in the people of Colorado. Or at least in the ones I met. First it was the Kokopelli guys, who took me into their house and gave me endless rides to help me do my last prep (far more than what I’d expect from a sponsor, and they are more like friends now). Then there were the strong female Park Rangers up at Rocky Mountain National Park, who to passionately shared the ideas of their work with me. There was the kind kid, Subaru Zach (that’s how he saved himself in my contacts), who gave me an extensive ride, and gave me an insight into his beautiful mind. In the original and special town of Kremmling I met Kim and Jeff, who shared a little piece of their lives with me. Marlene in Glenwood Springs told me about how she feels living here as an Austrian, and granted me a notable view into her perspective. Of course, there is Jon Waterman, who gave me the gift of being face to face with a similar minded nature enthusiast and writer. I’ll never forget praying with trucker Mark at the gas station in De Beque. And last but most, the incredibly inspiring couple, Bill and Kate. They took me in and fed me for days until we agreed that the weather was giving me a chance. They shared some of their knowledge and let me feel some of their wisdom. Being finally put on the water by those two river rats with over 70 years of boating experience on their combined backs was the best thing that could happen to me and I certainly take it as a good omen for my travels. I have left them sad, but feel blessed to now know they are now in my life. So all of you Colorado, mountains, river, snow, roads, truck stops, pick ups, cows, frozen fields and most of all, people: thank you, you have been wonderful to me!

Now I am here in Utah and I will stay in the cool little town of Moab for a few days. Tourism season hasn’t quite started yet, and the endless ATV, Jeep and Mountainbike rental places along that one main road through this town are still hibernating like the bears up in the mountains.

Jon Waterman has put me in touch with Kerri, who works here in town as a nurse and has completed a source to sea trip on the Colorado River last year. Again I realize what a great community comes with this river, when Kerri instantly offers for me to stay at her house, do laundry and lend me her bike when we first talk on the phone. Soon after we meet, we discover another passion we share: preparing our own food for the trail and trying to keep waste minimal. We indulge in talking about techniques, tastes and troubles, discuss companies, packaging, and plastic and then we exchange samples of what we eat on trail.

Full of endless energy Kerri even takes me hiking in between her night shifts at the hospital. In Mill Creek Canyon I am once again fascinated by the light created by looming weather and the moods it creates in this vast landscape of sand, rock and snow capped mountains.

On the south edge of Moab I visit the ACT Campground & Environmental Learning Center, and meet the incredible couple Cherie and Kim, who run it. When they retired, Cherie tells me with a smile, they decided to “change the world”. They built this Campground, where they implement cutting edge sustainable design concepts while offering a place to learn about the climate challenges of the future and the environment. Kim, an environmental engineer with a passion, gives me a tour and I am amazed at his creative and efficient ideas of energy, water and waste management. A day later I am able to join a meeting they are holding, and find myself sitting with a small group of active Moab citizens, training how to talk to climate change deniers. Then we have a videoconference with all kinds of other grassroots organizations across the United States. Together they have shaped the „Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act“, a smart carbon tax bill and they are getting ready to introduce it into congress this year. I am absolutely baffled by the energy I find here and can’t wait to hear how it will go.

For several days I try to find someone to run Catarct Canyon with me. It is a section of the Colorado River that has many rapids, some of them quite difficult and I would certainly have trouble doing that by myself, let alone in a packraft with my near nonexistent experience… In the end I decide to paddle only to above where the rapids begin and then hike though the desert for a few days, around Cataract Canyon. In between all this organization and many calls, I hike the area of Moab quite extensively.

I also visit Arches National Park, thinking of Edward Abbeys book “Desert Solitaire” while I roam the park for a full day, marveling at the miracles created by the elements out here. I begin to understand his words more profoundly:

Despite its clarity and simplicity, however, the desert wears at the same time, paradoxically, a veil of mystery. Motionless and silent it evokes in us an elusive hint of something unknown, unknowable, about to be revealed. Since the desert does not act it seems to be waiting—but waiting for what?

The experience of Arches is well worth its own blogpost, but there is just not enough time to write about everything so I will just let some pictures speak and continue writing after.

Doug, a friend of Kerri’s, knows the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park, where I will be hiking, and offers to meet and talk through my planned route. I am happy about that, as desert backcountry hiking is new to me, and as we scan the area with google earth, Doug points out where to find ancient ruins, pictographs and granaries on my way. As a guide he knows the area all too well and I am grateful when he offers to give me a ride to where I want to launch with my packraft. As we ride along the bumpy road, he tells me about the potash mine that we pass on the way and I wish I could retell everything Doug tells me, but then this post would be endless. It will have to wait until my book I guess. We stop at a spot high on the rocks overlooking the Colorado River and the sight is spectacular. This is actually where the scene from “Thelma and Louise” was shot, when they run the car down into the make-believe-Grand-Canyon.

Now I am getting on the river and I am looking forward to the week of wilderness that lays ahead of me. I will be writing while I am out there, but I doubt I will ever have cell service to actually publish. So bear with me, I’ll be back with loads of stories to tell.

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