Friday, January 12, 2018

Finally … the Needles.

Friday, 5th January_Sunday, 7th January, 2018; The Needles, Canyonlands, Utah.

(Canyonlands, Utah)
Oil Sketch on Centurian Oil Primed Panel
5” x 7”


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After three nights in my clifftop camp I meandered on down to the Needles sector of Canyonlands National Park; meander being the word as my next campsite was less than ten miles from my previous, as the Raven flies, but was over sixty by road.  On the way down I explored a rough track near Jail Rock, following it to its end three miles deep into a canyon.  It was a sweet spot for some future campsite.  Upon nearing the end of the desperate track, in an alcove in the south wall of the canyon, several taller trees were spotted, and the a few more nearby.  I studied them through my binoculars, thinking at first they might be Ponderosa Pines, but they looked more like Lodgepoles, but I finally decided that they must be firs of some kind.  What you must understand is that the only trees I have seen hereabouts, since arriving in the Moab area, have been Pinion Pines and Junipers.  These trees must have a little microclimate going for them, and I suspect that their closest relatives lie some 15 to 20 miles south in the Abajo Mountains.


Onwards into the Needles, to the end of the Scenic Drive.  Here starts the trail to the overlook of the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers.  It’s a long trek which I was not prepared to do, but a few photos were taken of the formations and canyons, before returning to my truck.  Two Ravens were still rest atop my Thule carrier, and as I approached one of them crapped on the Thule and dropped down to the roof and then down onto the cover tarp on my trailer-hitch platform … Ravens have very sharp claws, as witnessed by the two rents shredded into the tarpaulin, as that one landed there and tried to get a purchase on the wobbly surface.  These two beggars were just that, a testament to the many visitors who do not follow the Park rules to not feed the wildlife.  As I got in and started the engine, one of them even landed on my wing-mirror in a last attempt to elicit a snack, until I began to drive off.  Two days later I was on this road again, stopping at various short trails, such as that at the picnic area, then Potholes Point, and finally at the end of the road.  In each of the places I parked a pair of opportunistic Ravens would appear.  I suspected that they might be the same pair at each spot; the road was winding and although the driving distance from my first stop to the last was about 3 miles, as the Raven flies it was much shorter.  At road’s end, as they stood on the ground ear the driver’s seat looking up at me, I told them that if they were outside the Park boundaries I might flip them a snack, but inside the Park I would abide by the rules, and then off I drove.  About half a mile up the hill I stopped in a lay-by to take a photo, and as I looked back down the road I spotted them flying across country towards the Potholes Point trail.  As I drove past that trailhead, there they were, so my suspicions were correct … that pair covers that stretch of road.  There was only another car or two during my time on these short trails, so they have learned that the car leaving one trailhead will soon be showing up at the next.  Ravens … smart birds.

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