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November/December 2005

From the Grand Canyon to Canyonlands: Hiking At The Speed Of Sound

Seven national parks in 7 days--starring a ragtop, Red Bull, and one scary rabbit.
Backpacker_Magazine_Zion_NPZion National Park, Nick Driggs/Utah Office of Tourism

©Jackie Ney

After a few days, we were really starting to get toughened by the road, which is another way of saying that Jackie was starting to crack. The drive from Capitol Reef featured a spine-tingling, hairpin dirt-road descent, a sketchy creek crossing, a long and winding conversation in which I detailed my deep but now departed lust for Winona Ryder, and hours of top-down speeding through kiln-oven heat–more than enough time for sore muscles and aching joints to get stiffer than 3-day-old jerky. All this before the weather turned, sagebrush suddenly whipping across the road, lightning crashing on this butte and that, and the ranger at Arches’ entrance gate saying something about 50 mph winds. In the visitor center, the ranger tried to deflect my request for a backcountry permit. (“If you want to camp backcountry, you should go to Canyonlands,” he offered. “And anyway, haven’t you seen the weather report?” Then he suggested a route that followed a buried pipeline past the park’s original boundaries where primitive camping is legal.)

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