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Jul 07, 2019
At the end of this wonderful field season I returned to Socorro winding my way southwards into Canyonlands National Park. I had grown up with images of the Grand Canyon but no idea of the scenery of Canyonlands. Walking to the rim near the visitor center for the first time and staring down into the labyrinth of canyons forged by the Colorado and Green Rivers I was transfixed by the awesome proportions of the canyons. Canyonlands gives the Grand Canyon a run for its money, and to this day remains my favorite canyonland landscape. At the Shafer Road overlook, I traced the road as it looped through a series of switchbacks down the near vertical canyon wall to the Colorado River far below. Now that looked like an exciting road to drive. However, there was a sign at the trail head ‘4WD Beyond This Point’.
Canyonlands, October 2018
Inside the visitor center I asked what the sign meant, and the kind ranger informed me that I needed four-wheel drive beyond this point. This did not clarify the sign to me, because I had four wheels and could drive my car. I could see that motorbikes and cyclists might have a difficult time. Fortunately, a little voice inside my head, the voice of reason, postulated that perhaps I should not take my car down the switchbacks, especially after my brake incident descending Teton Pass.
And if I had made it to the bottom of Shafer trail and then got stuck on the road out to Potash, would I have been able to drive back up? I had driven out east of Socorro earlier that spring on a rough ranch road and failed at two attempts getting up a steep incline and only on my third attempt did I succeed. So, I did not risk the descent into the Colorado river and enjoyed the hiking trails and magnificent panoramas from the canyon rim.
These memories tug at my heart as I plan a new route northward into Wyoming with my trusty Xterra and my cameras to photograph new scenes to transform into wild and wonderful digital art over the coming winter months. My Xterra can handle rough mountain 4WD trails and easily navigated Shafer Trail last October. Though I have to admit I think I would have got stuck in my Plymouth Valiant!
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