After a morning meadering through Arches, I drove an hour or so, to Canyonlands National Park. Whereas Zion had been overrun with buses and cameras and all their many peoples, and while Bryce and Arches were pleasant but still felt a bit crowded from time to time, Canyonlands was like hitting the paydirt of personal solitude. Of the four Parks I had inadvertently save the best for last. Canyonlands was my fave.
Like Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands had…well…canyons, and it did my heart good to stand at the edge of the canyons in Canyonlands and take in the open spaces as they spread out beneath me.
It’s way too much to properly appreciate in one mere afternoon, so I didn’t even try, I just drove around the Park, did a little easy hiking, here and there, and vowed — by all the old gods and the new — to return, one day, and spend some serious time here. It’s a great place for a long hiking trip, I often thought to myself, wishing I had more time…several days, or even a few weeks.
After one of my first good views of the canyon, I thought to myself that I’d like to do some cycling and/or mountain biking in Canyonlands, and as I was returning to my car to drive on, I crossed paths with a dude who was just finishing up a trip, loading his moutain bike on the back of his car. He looked to be in his 70s, possibly even older, but he was quite fit and was all decked out in his tight biker spandex.
He had that serene look of someone who has enjoyed his solitude. I said something stupid to the effect of “How was the ride?!” And he turned his lucid gaze on me, now a bit confused, perhaps, as though he had to take a moment to process the idiotic and unanswerable question and to also now come to grips with the fact that he would once again be encountering humans, humans who asked questions with no answers. It made me slightly sad, though I well-understand the feeling of having to relearn what it’s like to have a conversation after spending extended time in the wilderness, and particularly after an intense time of physical exertion.
As I proceeded on, I encountered a little rain, off and on, but it persisted and even clouded over and as I drove out of the Park, in the dark, my visibility was quite bad and I drove very slow until I had exited the Park and the fog dissipated. It was another night at the scenic rest stop where I had slept the night before, and the next morning I drove on, out of state.