~Saturday, April 16, 2022~
We’ve made a decision to go forward with our plans of leaving early tomorrow from Canyonlands to Moab. We thought if we had waited until Tuesday morning to move to the Goose Island Campground we wouldn’t get in at all. So we’ll just eat the $40, hoping to make up the expense somewhere else down the line. Our backup is staying on Forest Service land for one night near the campground if we don’t have success in getting in on Sunday. It’s hard to figure out what people are thinking about the holiday weekend. With the 4 sites available on Easter, will they be leaving early or take things at their leisure with the 12:00 check-out time? No matter, our goal is to leave by 7:30 a.m. to arrive at Goose Island by 9:30 a.m.
Now that we knew this would be our last day in Canyonlands, we had to go out with a bang; so Peekaboo Trail it was. It’s not everyday that the trailhead you need is right outside your door. Seriously, all we had to do was cross the street and let the journey begin. There are about 5 different trails that shoot off from the main trailhead, with the map pretty weak in directions. It looked like our trail veered immediately to the left, but we weren’t really sure until about the 2-mile mark where we came to a junction sign to tell us we were on the right track. Whew! The Peekaboo Trail was recommended to us by one of the rangers at the visitor center and it sounded so interesting with its slick sandstone rock trails and an added bonus of (3) 1,000 year-old pictographs on the canyon walls. Total miles…..10. The Peekaboo Trail explores the western section of The Needles (where we’re camping), with spectacular scenery.
This is the only extended traverse of high elevation terrain in The Needles, as other routes either follow canyons or cross basins. And it’s unlike anything we’d ever done before. Initially the trail meanders through junipers and pinyon pines on sandy turf, with occasional compact dirt. But after about 2 miles, the trail continues onto slick sandstone rock, with the trail markers designated by cairns (stacks of rocks). I’ve mentioned these before, and without them, especially on this route, you’d be lost. With Easter just around the corner, it was our form of an egg hunt, but with cairns. At one point, we came to a
vertical steel ladder (I prefer a more angled one) that connects Squaw Canyon to Lost Canyon. Most of the time, our ankles were put to the test as our feet were rarely flat but angled either upward or downward or side to side. A few sections were pretty dangerous, and very exposed. I say dangerous because without the grippy sandstone beneath your feet, you’d slide right off, assured a visit to Heaven. There is no way hiking poles would assist you up these faces of sandstone. You simply have to rely on your grippy shoes and strong calves to pull you up.
When we finally arrived to what we thought was near the end, we could see how the trail got its name by several slight openings (windows if you will) in the canyon walls, for people
to peek through; a good stop for lunch. But with it getting late in the day, we still hadn’t come to the 3 pictograph faces the ranger had told us about with the assumption (again not marked well) that we still had Salt Creek to get through to see them. A couple we met, from France, who spoke pretty good English, said according to their GPS there was still about another mile to go to get a glimpse of the ancient drawings. With an extra 2-mile round trip, we made the decision to not continue on if we wanted the assurance that we’d be back before dark. They too, would make this their turnaround point. Darn, and so close!
On the way back, the winds really picked up to the point of losing a hat or two. Luckily we retrieved both. We made excellent time coming back even with the equivalent ascending and descending terrain (usually trails are easier coming back), arriving back an hour earlier than anticipated. Maybe we could have hiked those 2 extra miles after all?
Nice to be back, deserving of an ice-cold one and some foot elevation…..at least for a few minutes. We had good intentions on making a delicious salmon dinner but opted for leftovers with being so tired and a lot to do. Between Jeff getting a headstart on breaking down camp for our departure tomorrow, and me defrosting the fridge and giving Sadie an overdue bath, it was quite a full evening.