March 25, 2012

Day 54, 10th October 2011. Colorado - Moab, Utah

Had set my alarm for 8.15am this morning and thankfully woke up feeling a lot better. I had some breakfast, had a shower, and then we packed our bags up ready to leave by 10am. This was one of the only days on the 2nd half of the trip that I actually ate breakfast, which was weird because I never normally miss breakfast, I just didn't seem to be into it for a few weeks.
I was sad to be leaving such a nice house that we were staying in, but I was glad to be leaving Telluride and the bad memories of yesterday there. When we were on the way we stopped off a few times and Gary and I chatted for a bit about what we were going to do in Vegas. Before the trip we had discussed maybe getting married there but then decided that we probably shouldn't do it because we hadn't told our families. The idea suddenly popped into my head again, so I told Gary who said we should think about it before making a decision....
We had a really short drive today, to Moab, Utah. It was only 3 hours away and we were leaving the cold and going back into warm weather! The drive was really pretty too, we had some lovely driving scenery.

Got to camp and it was only lunchtime. It was so nice to actually set up our tents in the middle of the day without being tired and worn out like we usually were in the evenings. After we had set our tents up, and got changed (yay, it was warm!) we all sat and ate lunch while we discussed the activity options for the next day. There are 2 National Parks in Moab, Canyonlands and Arches, so there was lots of hiking that we could do. There was also the option that we could go and do a skydive and of course Gary straight away said he wanted to do it. I said there was no way I was going to do it but Gary was saying I should. 

No matter how much I love rollercoasters and other scary things, I always said a skydive is something that I would never do. ever. Gary was determined to do a skydive at some point in the trip so there was no way I could talk him out of it. He was begging me to do one too and told me to ring my mum because he knew she would encourage me. I spoke to my mum who said I had to do it, and then even my dad said he thought I should do it which I thought was really weird because my dad never wants to do things like that. For some reason I decided to do it. (I later found out that Gary had been texting my dad telling him to tell me to do it) 

I don't even know why I was agreeing to do it because I really didn't want to, but there was a group of 9 of us who were going to do it, including Justine in the other group who didn't even like Space Mountain, so I thought if she can be brave and do it then I certainly had to!

Mark said we were going to do a hike in Canyonlands National Park for the afternoon, so I just put the skydive thoughts to the back of my head and thought that I'd worry about it in the morning. Mark said Canyonlands was an hour drive away from camp, but surprise surprise, we ended up driving for 2 hours to get there. We were all hoping that it would be a short hike because it was already 4pm by the time we got there, and Mark said that it would take us no longer than 2 hours.

Canyonlands National Park is so beautiful. It was another place that I fell completely in love with. There are a ridiculous amount of photos here, but I couldn't narrow it down any more because they are all so beautiful. Some of the places we visited on this trip were so pretty that it was impossible to take a bad picture. The scenery was lots of red rock, it was exactly like in Cars. It's also the setting for the film '127 hours', the one where it's a true story about a man getting stuck in a canyon and having to cut his own arm off.

It was a really nice hike, it was kind of all over the place, going uphill and downhill, so our legs always got a break because we wasn't doing the same thing for hours. It was also a very confusing hike because there is not many signs to let you know that you are going the right way. At this point I'll add in that every place we hiked we used to see loads of mini rocks all piled up in funny ways, and Gary kept knocking them over, we later found out that these were trail markers to let you know you were still on the trail. 

The trail wasn't clearly marked out and it was very rocky and slippery with no actual path, so we were having to be really careful where we were stepping.

Cute lizard

Eventually, because we were all moving at a different pace, we all got seperated. Mark walked ahead with Kirsty, Matt and Amelie, with Me, Gary and Steph in the middle somewhere and the rest of the group were way behind. It was getting on for 2 hours that we had been walking for and the sun was starting to set so we were hoping we would get to the end of the trail soon.

Soon enough, me, Gary and Steph found ourselves completely alone, with half the group way in front of us and the other half way behind us, even shouting out they could not hear us so we were really quite far away. As there was no clear trail we did go off track a few times (when Steph was leading haha) but we always realised before it was too late and managed to turn around. It was starting to get dark so the 3 of us started walking really fast because we wanted to reach the end of the trail before it got too dark.

We saw a little snake

After 3 hours we were still walking with no sign of the others. The trail was really steep at times (like in the photo below) and we were getting quite worried as it was nearly dark. Eventually  when we were shouting for Kirsty and the group that were in front of us and we got a reply back from them. Kirsty was calling us so we realised we must be near them, but it sounded like she was saying 'We've gone the wrong way'. We thought that couldn't be right and she must be joking.... she wasn't.

A few minutes later we reached the front group and Matt said that we had definitely gone the wrong way. Mark had waited behind to walk with the last group, so we just waited there for them and about 15 minutes later they turned up, and Mark agreed that we must have all gone the wrong way (thankfully we ALL went the wrong way otherwise we would have been all over the place and I don't know what we would have done then).

It was almost dark now and starting to get chilly. We were all wearing just shorts and tshirts and had long ago finished our waters. As it was supposed to be a short hike we had no food, and of course no torches or form of light. Mark seemed completely clueless in the situation and Matt had to take charge of the situation to figure out where we needed to go to get back to the van. 

To cut a very long story short we spent 2 hours walking around Canyonlands National Park in the pitch black and it was freezing cold. We were tired, hungry and fed up. Mark was useless, he directed us down a one way car track the wrong way, and over some huge slippery rocks that would have been dangerous in the middle of the day let alone in complete darkness. Mark clearly had no idea where we were going (surely that's an important part of a tour leaders job?!?!?) and to be honest I was so angry with him, I actually still am now all these months later. It was totally irresponsible with no regards to the groups safety.

I 100% credit Matt with finding our way back to the van, and I made sure to make that known to everyone. Some people were quite casual about the situation, but once I got angry about it, unfortunatley there was no going back. I did spend the last 30 minutes ranting and raving about how we might die and how I would be dialling 911 if I'd had any cell reception (which I didn't). I slipped over so many times, and there were any number of wild animals lurking around. Mark said later that night that there were probably tarantulas there. Not that I would have seen one because it was so dark, but if I would have I think that would have been all I needed to have a complete breakdown.

We got back to the van at about 10pm I think. I was so tired and hungry and my legs were hurting to much. It was a long drive back to camp and I just listened to my ipod and tried to calm myself down. It was too late to make dinner so Mark stopped at McDonalds which I don't like so I had a frozen strawberry lemonade for dinner. (I can't even tell you how much I miss that now that I'm back in the UK, I wish our McDonalds did them). When we finally got back to camp I had a big moan about our experience to the other group before having a shower and going to sleep. Thankfully with all that had happened I had no time to worry about my skydive tomorrow.

Now that I think back on it I'm still not sure how I feel about this experience. It was a horrible thing to go through and I'm still mad at Mark for being irresponsible, but on the other hand, it's kind of a cool disasterous story to tell. When people talk about the film 127 hours I now say to them ' Well, I had a near death experience in that same place'... even though I technically wasn't near death, I really felt like I was at times, especially with all the slipping on rocks, and there were moments where I literally thought we would be there all night and no one would find us until the morning.

1 comment:

  1. I hope you wrote the TrekAmerica people and let them know how terrible Mark was. Your group was lucky, but imagine the next group isn't? I'm glad you made it out of there safely and that this was scheduled way after your hangover. lol