// Weekend: (/ˈwēkˌend/) noun 1.) The period from Friday evening through Sunday evening, especially regarded as a time for leisure. //
For those of us that don’t currently have the pleasure of living out of our vans full-time, making a living by being professional athletes, freelance writers, and full-time photographers, we have to work during the week. Rough, I know. But don’t get too down on yourself. There’s hope for the work week tribe and that hope lies within the weekend. The weekend is something I’ve really come to appreciate ever since finishing my degree in college. Now that I have a career, I actually have the weekend to do whatever I want. No more worrying about studying or doing homework during the weekend. Now, I can really take full advantage of the hours that are packed into the weekend and make the most out of it before Monday rolls back around.
Pack your car with all the gear you’ll need for a wild weekend on Thursday night and leave straight from work on Friday. Think of how far you can get if you drive until midnight before setting up camp. The possibilities are endless.
Most of my weekends consist of a packed car and driving at least a few hours to some place in the mountains of Colorado. But one weekend in particular, some friends and I tried to push it further. We escaped work an hour early, threw in some last minute food and gallons of water, and headed west from Denver to the desert playground of Moab, Utah. The key to these big trips is a little bit of preparation. If you pack all your gear the night before, you won’t be held up by packing and grabbing last minute supplies before you hit the road. You also can’t let silly excuses get in the way. No, your place of work will not burn down if you leave a little early on a Friday, you aren’t THAT tired, and no, it’s really not that far of a drive. Just go.
Finding Solitude in Canyonlands National Park
Moab is an immensely popular place. It is surrounded by two glorious national parks; Canyonlands, 30 miles to the southwest, and Arches, only 5 miles to the north. For this reason, a lot of the popular sites in the parks can become very crowded and annoying. For us, we wanted to try to avoid the crowds, so we headed into the backcountry. It’s very easy to get away from the crowds in these parks. Even walking a mile or so from the road can give you complete solitude. We had decided to do a fairly short backpacking trip because of our time constraints, so we pulled off at a pullout parking area near the Alcove Spring Trail, strapped on our backpacks and were on our way. We quickly descended 1,300 vertical feet in the first mile or two, past an expansive alcove and to the bottom of a wide canyon with tall sandstone walls surrounding us on all sides. We made our way through roughly six miles of trails and dry creek beds until we reached the Moses and Zeus towers—two formations standing next to each other that resemble Moses wearing a long robe, slightly hunched over, looking at Zeus. That is, if you really squint your eyes and turn your head the right way. We decided to set up our camp here for the night, surrounded by canyons and no people. We watched the sun go behind the canyon walls, made dinner, and soon retreated to our tents to escape the crisp desert air. Finding solitude out there is easier than you’d think.
Milkshakes in Moab
The town of Moab is a breeding ground for outdoor adventurers. It seems as though everybody in the town is there to fuel up with some food and water, only to return back to the red dirt of the desert. Weird tan lines, body odor, ATV’s on the roads, and dogs wearing backpacks are abundant in Moab. I had to stop at the one and only, Milt’s Stop and Eat diner, especially after hearing Brendan Leonard talk about it on The Dirtbag Diaries podcast. And after backpacking through the desert, who doesn’t love a good chocolate milkshake?
Exploring Arches National Park
We had our fun in town and were soon headed to Arches National Park, a very short drive from downtown Moab. Since it was my first time in the area, I really wanted to see the famous “Delicate Arch,” so we headed to the trailhead and hiked toward the Arch. Upon arrival, I was initially impressed. It was much larger than I was expecting. Those feelings were quickly replaced with annoyance … with too many people, too many selfie sticks, and way too many people trying to take photos under the arch, it was nearly impossible to get a photo of the arch without people standing underneath it or in the foreground. We all had the same feelings, so we left soon after arriving and headed to our final destination for the weekend. We parked at another pullout in Arches and began hiking a short way down a different partially dry river bed into the backcountry. We found a flat area on some slickrock above the river bed with views of the steep red walls, the La Sal Mountains, and some other less popular, but just as beautiful, arch formations. “You guys wanna camp here?” “Yeah.” We had only hiked a mile from the road, but were totally alone. It’s that easy. We decided to go without tents this night for an easy cleanup in the morning and because the stars were in full-force that night. All of us retired to our sleeping bags and watched a few shooting stars fly by before drifting to sleep. This. This is how you spend a weekend.
I will use the weekend to my advantage by taking trips just like this one, spending more time away from the computer and more time out of cell service range. Trips like this revive me from the work week, allow me to clear my mind for the week ahead and arrive at work refreshed. Weekends are important. Use them wisely.