Utah is blessed with five National Parks, two of them near Moab – Arches and Canyonlands. I decided to try and find somewhere else to stay for a couple more nights rather than having to “wait and see” if a camp site was available at Arches.
The road to Canyonlands is a few miles north of Arches but then it is a 30+ mile drive to get into the Park and the campground is a little further in. It is a magnificent drive however. Arriving at the Canyonlands campground I discovered that there are only 12 sites! 12. Of course, they were all taken. Ugh. But, the Ranger says “There is a BLM campground ten miles back from the park entrance.” I had passed it on my way in but didn't check it out because it was on an unpaved road. So I turned around and went back.
Horsethief Campground is on a high plateau with little protection from the wind and other elements but it is in a beautiful location. The amenities are few. A place to park, pit toilets, no water. If you put up a tent you have to use rocks to keep it in place – stakes just can't go through solid rock! But there were a couple of the 60 or so sites still available; I ended up staying there for three nights, using it as a base camp to explore the area – Canyonlands, Arches, and Moab.
It was early afternoon when I arrived at Horsethief Campground and as I was walking back to my site from dropping off payment, there was Hunter (the older gentleman with whom I had shared a site last night at Arches)! He was sitting at a picnic table in the site a short distance from mine. We talked for a few minutes then I headed back to my site. I had decided to spend the afternoon just lazying around, reading a book, relaxing.
It wasn't too much later that the sky quickly darkened and gray clouds moved in above us. I grabbed my chair and book and slid into the van just as rain came pouring down. It lasted a good while, well into the evening and cleared up shortly before sunset. Along with about a dozen other campers, I made my way out of the campground to a little rise for a good view of the sunset. I looked for Hunter but didn't see him. I stopped at his site on the way back to mine but he was no where around. I didn't see him again. In the morning I was just getting out of bed when I heard something hit the windshield. I looked out and Hunter was walking away toward his site. By the time I got out of the van he was gone, but he had left me a note beneath the wiper blade, now soaked by the morning dew. It said, simply “Becky – Happy Trails. Hunter.” What a touching gesture. What a sweet man he was.
If I get nothing else out of this journey, the joy and pleasure of meeting some wonderful people, will suffice. I find it truly amazing how quickly friendships form. We meet someone, spend a few minutes or hours together, then go our separate ways. But the thoughts and memories linger and I often wonder about them. Larry, at Big Bend. Sophia, on top of Angels Landing. Hunter, at Arches and Horsethief. I've been astounded by the people I've met on the trail who, after talking with them for perhaps half an hour, have invited me to visit them when I get in their area – they have given me their email and phone number and fully expect me to contact them. And I just might! This has been an incredible experience thus far – almost nine months on the road – and it isn't over yet!