After a morning in the snow, Matthias and I decided it was time to see a different part of the park. In this vein we headed to the rangers station and got advice on the southwest desert area. We only had a few hours of daylight by the time we left the rangers station, so we decided to take the shorter trail to the campsite we had chosen. When we arrived at the trail head for the Coalpits wash trail, we discovered than neither the trail we hoped to take or our campsite was marked on our map. Thinking that there would be no way to get lost, we decided to just figure things out as they happened.
After a few minutes of hiking, Matthias stumbled upon a tumbleweed and (as you can see in the above picture) was incredibly excited by the find. We managed to find the canyon we needed to traverse with no difficulty, but it was a strike of luck that allowed us to find the cairn marking the connecting trail that would take us to the ridge trail and our campsite. The only problem was we could not remember which way we were supposed to turn when we got the ridge trail. I was fairly confident from my glimpse at the map in the rangers station that we had to go west, so the decision was made. What I had not remembered was how far we had to hike to get to the campsite, so after a few miles we started to wonder if we had really chosen the right path.
As luck would have it, we had chosen correctly and just before the sun set we found our campsite. It was one of the more exposed places we camped in the park–situated on top of a hill with almost no vegetation, there was nothing to break the wind. So, we tied the tent between two trees with the hope that it would not blow away. Speaking of my tent (EMS Star 2+); it is wonderful! One can tell a lot of thought went into designing it and it didn’t get destroyed by the wind that night.
When we woke the next morning, we had the view pictured below. If you want a great place to camp in this part of the park, I highly recommend campsite 4. It is fairly easy to get to and the view is spectacular. Also, the site is exposed to sun early in the morning, so your tent will be nice and warm when you decide to get out of it. Since there was no that much to see in this area of the park, Matthias and I decided that we should hit the more touristy areas of the park. We finished the trail we were on and then just headed back to the car.
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