Over the course of a road trip there are plenty of lessons that we learn. Some of these lessons are simple, like don’t eat a chili dog from a food stand before a six hour drive. Some are a little more nuanced. Like even though Canyonlands and Capitol Reef appear to be touching on the map, it is still a two hour drive because there are no roads in Utah.
A couple of lesson’s I have learned are good to pass on. For instance, if you are driving through Wyoming or Utah and you see a gas station, stop and get gas. Some of these western states can go long stretches between a single building let alone a gas station.
Another important one to know is that if you are visiting Ouray, Colorado in April there is a very real chance of hiking one day in shorts and a t-shirt and having to put aloe on a sun burn. There is an even more real chance that the next day you will have to drive home through six inches of snow.
Old School Lessons
Another good lesson is that cell phones don’t really work around most national parks. Nothing would ruin a geologic marvel than a giant cell tower. While this is one of the amazing parts of being in a national park it can also become a challenge when driving between two. Anyone under the age of 35 probably won’t believe this but I actually had to drive between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon using only street signs. No map, No GPS, nothing.
For those of you curious how this is possible let me explain. The metal squares along side of the road sometime have arrows that point to where things are. If you pay attention to those, it is possible to make it from one place to another! (Hint: the brown ones lead to national parks and monuments!)
These are all good lessons to know and think about when you are planning a road trip. This last lesson may be the most important one of all and it is one that I had to learn the hard way.
Can’t Beat Nature
One morning I decided to go see the amazing sunrise at Bryce Canyon. Well I was so inspired by the glowing rocks below that I decided to go right into a hike down to the base of the canyon. The hike was amazing and I was basically by myself for the entire time. Everything was going well until nature decided to make a collect call.
I sent nature to voice mail as many times as I could but eventually it caught up to me. I had to pee. Luckily I checked the map on my app and it said that I was only about a half mile to a bathroom on the trail. Hallelujah!!!
As I got closer and closer to the marked spot for the restroom my body began to realize we were getting close. I am convinced that my bladder is connected to some sort of bathroom Wi-Fi network and as I get closer the signal gets stronger. Well as I walked up to the small pit toilet in the middle of the park the signal was at full strength. I grabbed the door and saw the sign, “Restrooms closed for the season”. Network failure. Uh oh.
Best Laid Plans…
It was now too late to negotiate with my bladder and something was going to have to happen. I had opined on the merits of this in a previous post, To Pee or Not to Pee, so I knew what I had to do. I moved away from the structure and away from the trail and I was careful to walk on rocks as much as possible to avoid stepping on small plants and grasses. Eventually, I found my way to some trees and a rock wall. I was completely covered on all sides by the trees or the rock wall. I looked around one last time, didn’t see a soul, and decided to take care of business.
A faint shriek of “Oh my God!”. You see, as a hiker in Colorado I don’t often think to look up before finding a spot to go. I definitely would have noticed that about 600 feet directly above me was an observation platform on the rim of the canyon that looked down directly at me. Have you ever made eye contact with a stranger on a observation platform above you while you thought you were alone on a hike? It isn’t pleasant.
Well now I had a choice to make. Pinch or waddle. I had good cover around (except directly above me it seemed) so I decided to do a waddle. Backwards. Down a small incline.
It went surprisingly well and I was able to continue my hike in peace with no more calls. I was however, keenly aware of the canyon rim from that point forward. The lesson, you are never as alone as you think you might be.
More From the Fatman
If you enjoyed this post you may enjoy my Fatman’s Ramblings page. It is full of my light hearted, and hopefully entertaining, thoughts from the trails. Some of the gems included are, “Screw it, I’m Trying.“, “Bad Days and Bidets: Just wash it off“, and “Hiking alone is not Lonely Hiking“. If you have any questions or comments feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also keep the conversation going by following me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!