Hitching From Utah's Red Landscape To Salt Lake City

After buzzing around Colorado Marilyn and I stuck our thumbs out on the road just outside of Telluride, now Utah bound. Moab and the Arches National Park seemed like a reasonable target, the rides began pouring in to get us there.

First came a climber who took us to the next junction, a friendly woman to Norwood who gave us her information in case we got stuck, then a short ride from a pot grower, just long enough to smoke us out and drop us only a pinch further down the road. A carpenter in a Camaro got us as far as Naturita, then a guy went out of his way to take us to Bedrock where we walked along the road until a quirky woman picked us up, driving us clear into beautiful red rocked Utah as she snapped off pictures the whole way.

She dropped us just shy of Moab, a local guy in a truck scooped us up for the final stretch, arriving into town at sunset. He dropped us off at a dirt road saying there was an area to camp just up the way. We thanked him and got to walking, eventually arriving at a sort of recreation area lined with "No Camping" signs and little in the way of hidden spots to tuck away on the sly.

We hadn't slept inside or gotten a proper shower since Michigan, so when Marilyn suggested staying at the local hostel it seemed like a good idea. We managed to hitch a ride as it got dark and saved ourselves what would have been a long walk to get there, the local guy knew where it was and happily dropped us off at the door.

We got there right as the one eyed owner was kicking out a drunk guy, we got checked in and even had a room to ourselves. A refreshing shower, a cooked up ramen meal and a cold can of brown ale from the six pack we grabbed in Telluride to seal the night, then knock out sleep on a bed for a change.

We got moving quickly in the morning, eating what was left from the last nights dinner and we were out the door. We paused at the grocery store to get the next round of food for any future camping, then made the obligatory stop into the nearby brewery before setting out to Arches.

The beer was mediocre, handicapped by Utah's 4% alcohol cap for beer poured on tap. Bottles can be served at bars and can be as high ABV as they want, which makes the first law seem silly. It is as goofy as it sounds.

A bruised up black eyed guy sat at the other end of the bar, unlike us who were coming in for a taste, he was there to dig in, bright an early and likely until late. He told us his story, he was biking in the national park and got in too deep, finding himself on a trail above his skill level. He bit it on a jump and wrecked himself where he found himself stuck, but able to call for help in the form of a helicopter rescue. His drinking now was for easing the pain, celebrating being alive and taking the edge off an astronomical rescue bill that needed to be paid.

We finished our beers and began walking through town to get to a spot to easily hitchhike, but before we could get to a spot there was a shout from a guy already pulled over asking if we needed a ride. Wayne was his named, a Minnesota guy and ultra marathon runner. He was really friendly and heading into the park himself, getting in for free with his military id.

He dropped us off at the first sort of trailhead, we thanked him and found ourselves engulfed in the red rock, mystical beauty of the park. We walked through a short hike called Park Avenue taking it all in, then catching a ride from a mathematician girl to the next thing, a rock formation that fit it's name, Balance Rock.

After taking that in we caught a ride from a couple to the end of the park where there seemed to be a series of longer hiking trails cutting through the rocks. We began walking into it, seeing enormous natural arches and amazing formations. Eventually we darted off the path a bit to stash our heavy packs so we could hike several more miles in more easily.

The hike was great, up and down carving through, walking on the spine of red ridges exposing vast views of the expansive textured landscape. Marilyn got nervous at times, her self admitted "irrational" fear of heights kicking in on the more narrow rocks we walked across. She loved it all the same, we both did, even beating under the roasting sun with dwindling water.

After some hours we'd turned back and arrived back at the bustling parking lot, we rested in the shade after loading up at the water fountains. We were in the midst of debating our next move, our next destination, when Wayne popped off the trail. He was done for the day and about drive to Grand Junction and eventually continue east.

Next thing we knew we were back in the car riding with him, we figured we'd ride as far as I-70 with him, Salt Lake City our new destination. We rode for a while, listening to his stories of running a hundred miles in Kuwait and the wildness of ultra marathon running.

Once at 70 he was east bound, we hopped out and headed up the opposite on ramp, walking up on to the freeway to thumb the westbound traffic.

Our ride came from Simon Taylor, a comedian on his way to Los Angeles. Originally from Australia, he was now doing standup and writing jokes for The Tonight Show. We all carried on for a short while until we came to our junction that broke off towards Salt Lake, thanked him and got back to walking.

We didn't walk far before an eighteen wheeler rolled to a stop, his destination was north of Salt Lake City, that made our day easy. We cruised and cruised and finally arrived in Salt Lake where he pulled along the shoulder of the highway where Marilyn and I finally hopped out and scattered on down to the road in what was now night time.

A bit of a walk down the street and we arrived at the Bohemian Brewery where a friend of mine used to work, we sat at the bar and ordered the Cherny Bock. Marilyn was completely beat, feet in shambles, she was only getting used to the sort of hiking and ravaging heat we'd just experienced.

Not long after we were getting picked up by my friend Cam, heading back to his place for a relaxing night.

We spent the next day in the city, catching the bus downtown while Cam was at work. In the center of the city there was the temple and the Mormon headquarters, for no charge we took the elevator up to the observation deck to get a great view of the whole city and the mountains beyond.

After some exploring in that area we later headed down to the little tap room for a brewery called Epic. It was easily the best Utah brewery I'd been too. Instead of putting beer on tap they only poured from bottles, thus getting around the 4% cap. They poured hefty sample glasses for forty and fifty cents a piece. We went through some twenty different styles of beer they made, an impressive amount for such a seemingly small brewery.

Towards the end we were getting pretty toasty, getting close to the time where Marilyn's traveling musician friend was playing a show across town. A guy named Ryan sat next to us at the bar, he was a traveler himself and had his own car. Not nearly as toasty as us he offered to drive and join us at the show which made life easy again.

Marilyn was happy to catch up with her friend and they rocked out the show, jumping up, around and into the audience, bringing us up on stage and generally getting wild with it. Cam came towards the end of it as well, finally we all headed back to his place, Ryan invited as well.

The next day we were ready to move south, the Grand Canyon among other things in mind and less than a week until we needed to be in California for my brother's wedding. More road, more good times.

June 25, 2014 to June 28, 2014