An Empty Park – Canyonlands NP, Utah

Jett, my border collie, nuzzled me awake before the sky even promised morning.

Jett refusing to come out into the snow
Jett refusing to come out into the snow

I tiptoed through the sleepy hostel and down the creaking stairs. The snow began falling as the day turned into a dull light. We pounded our systems with muffins and caffeine to wake up. The snow let up at noon, and we made a run for camp.

The two hour drive to Squaw Flats Campground was a constant game of dodging semi’s, slush, and ice as the canyons rolled by. My blue bug slowly inched through the snow covered highway as we followed two solitary tracks winding through the mesas and canyons.

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Newspaper Rock. Petroglyphs of the ancestral puebloans.

Camp finally arrived as the snow came to a stop. The tent nestled itself between the junipers and red rocks. The cold sunk into our bones as they begged for warmth. The sun failed to shine through the clouds so we took off down the lonely roads, forcing frozen blood to move through stiff limbs. The park was empty: not a single human or animal.

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Road to Elephant Hill

Icicles hung down from cliffs. Junipers hid behind cloaks of sparkling snow. The creek bed flowed with icy water. A desert that seemed abominably hot and dry in the summer had transformed into a muddy winter wonderland.

The dimming skies chased us back to the cozy camp.

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Home for the night

The stars popped into the night sky. I flawlessly browned my marshmallow, and bit into the perfect s’more. The fire danced on our faces. Our stomachs were full of s’mores and fire baked pizza. As smoke twisted up to the stars and our singing echoed into the empty desert, the frozen toes seemed a small price to pay for having this solitary peace all to ourselves. We let the fire die to coals and snuggled into the night.

Lonely roads
Lonely roads
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