|Mary, Keith and Milda (Mom) at The Desert Bistro (Moab, UT)|
|Lunch on the roof @ Ouray Brewery|
That evening we walked Grand Junction, stopped for a beer at the Blue Moon Cafe and then had dinner at an Indian place before calling it a night so we could be fresh for our early pickup by Austin Lehman at 730am.
Day 1: Colorado National Monument and Colorado White Water
|Colorado National Monument|
My Mom and I have done a rafting trip in the past. About 15 years ago we rafted the Snake River in Idaho for a week. It was exhilarating and we were looking forward to a similar experience. Since we recently discovered Mary is expecting she decided to sit this activity out. In hind sight she could have done it but, we simply did not know how the river would be and we also knew she would have no escape should there be a problem. She went to the Hotel and read her book for a few hours and waited for us to arrive. The early part of the day was calm and flat. The scenery made up for what the river lacked. I have never seen such majesty in person. Sheer cliffs of red and black. It reminded me of the fjords in Norway but without the lush vegetation.
|View from our room at the Lodge.|
Day 2: Canyonland National Park Ride and Hike
Day two was a perfect blend of hiking and biking through some of the coolest natural formations in the world. Canyonland National Park is a wonder of nature. What used to be an ocean floor hundreds of billions of years ago is now a play land for nature enthusiasts. We began the day with a short ride down from the top of a mesa which led us to our first hike, window Arch; it was a perfect start to the day. Short ride...to a short hike.... A warm up.
|Keith, Milda and Mary at Window Arch|
We were in a place called Island in the Sky. It is a mesa that is connected to the main land by only a sliver of land. We started biking at the outermost tip and worked our way out of the park. I used the GPS function on my cell phone over the entire trip and all our Google Earth KML tracks are available at the end of this post. We started at the top and rolled down through some incredible scenery to our next meeting point. Here we did a second short hike to give Matty and Katie time to load the bikes back onto the shag wagon so we could go to another spot to have lunch.
We had lunch at, Dead Horse Point; a most incredible vista which shows the power of erosion over the millennium. The view made you feel like a bird about to take flight. Soaring high above the world.
Lunch was a wonderfully created bowtie pasta salad with fruit salads and all the fixings. We are wondering if we will loose weight even with all the activity! (I did)
Mary and Milda riding across the Colorado River
After lunch we continued on our ride down towards the entrance to Arches National Park; where we made a pit stop to see a safety video on the Fiery Furnace. A protected place where only 60 permits are sold per day and require you to apply in advance. Of course this was no big deal because Matty K designed our itinerary to make sure we could ride our bikes directly there as one of our stops! I cant even begin to tell you how perfectly planned and executed our itinerary was. There was NO downtime. After watching the video we biked another few miles and stopped where we were able to see ancient pictographs painted on the side of a cliff. Matty just happened to have chocolate covered strawberries in his bag. We had another few miles to go before we crossed the Colorado river to finish the day's riding. That night we had a very nice dinner in town as a group and crashed out early as we knew the next day would be just as action packed!
Day 3: Arches National Park
|First view of the Delicate Arch|
|Hiking the slick rock|
|Parfait du Matty|
|Mary, Milda and Keith under the Delicate Arch|
|Mary and Keith at Landscape Arch|
We hike back over the slick rock, across the parking lot and immediately hit another trail. This time.... destination Landscape Arch. This is definitely worth the dusty tourist trail. A beautiful scene for sure; but it helps you appreciate all the special off the beaten path places Matty and Katie take us on the rest of the trip. Many days we saw no other people; only lizards, birds and serene nature.
|Milda and Hunt waiting for lunch|
Matty and Katie spent a lot of time discussing the Fiery Furnace. So the entire group was full of anticipation and excitement. Since we had watched the instructional video the previous day we were ready for this rare adventure. Matty was a trusted guide and he was able to lead our expedition into a very unique place on Earth.
|Mary and Milda entering the Fiery Furnace|
|Barb through a crevice|
|Keith under arch|
|Milda exiting the Fiery Furnace|
I slept like a baby that night as did everyone else I am sure!
|Surprise Arch - Fiery Furnace|
Day 4: Moab 4x4 Adventure and Fischer Towers Hike
|Milda and Mary in the Hmmer|
Everyone else sure seemed to enjoy it a lot. Our eventual destination was well worth the terror. A perfect vista over the Colorado River. After the 4x4 Adventure we went to the brewery Matty and I had dinner at the previous night and had a nice filling meal to round up our first half of the day.
Many in the group seemed to need a bit of a break, so the afternoon activity was a little less attended. Mary was tired so she went back to the room for a nap while my Mom, Ron, Barb, Elena, Hunt and I continued on the day with Matty and Katie to Fischer Towers.
|Milda on the ladder|
|Keith on the Fischer Tower Hike|
Day 5: Professor Canyon Hike
|Mary, Milda and Matty at the start of the hike.|
|Milda and Keith|
The end of the hike was well worth it. We discovered (as Matty and Katie already knew) that the stream was fed by a small waterfall out of the rock. Absolute beauty. We all walked under the waterfall and enjoyed the refreshing shower nature provided us on a hot day.
As always the hike in looks different than the hike out. A slight change in the shadows of the sun and the reverse perspective of everything makes it all seem brand new. This was another highlight of a trip full of highlights.
|Mary on the hike out.|
Day 6: Final Day - Castle Valley Bike Ride
|The view from the top.|
|Forest Fire remains.|
We really couldn't have asked for a better trip. My Mom, Mary and I had an incredible time together. It was a total blast meeting all the other group members. It would not have been possible without such insightful expertise from Matty K and Katie G. Their WOW moments every day were always timed perfectly as was the entire itinerary. Our comprehensive photo album can be viewed HERE. If you have Google Earth installed you can view our tracks: Track 1, Track 2, Track 3, Track 4 and Track 5. Download the files and open in Google Earth.
It seems as though Austin Lehman has this type of experience figured out to perfection. We had a number of people in our group who had done 7 or 9 trips with them. We can see why. I truly believe some, if not all of us; will again embark on what will be another great adventure. Thanks to everyone that helped make it possible. But mostly thanks to my Mom, Milda, who really made it happen for Mary and I. We love you!
|Katie, Milda, Ron, Barb, Deb, Sandy, Keith, Elena, Hunt and Mary|