Needles in Canyonlands August 9, 2012
Approaching the Needles Needles in Canyonlands
High Rock Formations #1  

When we got up in the morning, we found that one of the front tires was flat. It was very strange, because the tires still had a lot of tread. As usual, I wanted to patch the puncture myself, but together with Matt, we could not locate it easily. After some time, it turned out that the cut - not more than 1 mm in length - was in the sidewall of the tire. It was tiny, sharp like a needle piece of rock that stuck there the day before. I gave up the plan to fix this flat. Puncture was too tiny and the location was inappropriate for this type of repair. I decided to fix the tire, when the opportunity arises, at the tire service.

High Rock Formations #2 Cracked Cave
Cairn Cave  

When we hit the off-road trail, the sun was already high in the sky. It was time for a short hike. We took the Joint Trail and came to the area of caves and cracks in the rock. The most impressive were the Cairn Cave and 30-feet or more in height vertical cracks, long as a hallway, and at the same time narrowing down, to the width through which it is impossible to pass. These were not the canyons carved by force of flowing water as slot canyons are, but simply colossal cracks in the rocks.

At the crack entrance Inside the crack
Rock Art - Palms Heading up S.O.B. Hill

After returning to our Jeep, we continued very slow off-road journey through Canyonlands. It was extremely hot around. We had enough hiking for the day. In the vehicle, we were overcoming the obstacles on the way, climbing up the steep Elephant Hill. Our JK performed superbly. Matthew was happy and relaxed when he saw the end of the off-road trail down the hill in close distance. A little inattention and we hit the big rock hard. Balios took it bravely on his skidplate and fortunately, there was no serious damage. However, it was necessary to use a jack to remove it from under the car. After two days of off-road driving in the Needles District of Canyonlands, we finally saw the asphalt. Our average travel speed of the last 8 hours was not more than 1.5 mph.

Corridor #1 Corridor #2
Down the Silver Stairs #1 Down the Silver Stairs #2

The next day, while filling a tank in Balios on gas station in Moab, a man approached us. We started conversation and soon became apparent to us that this was the one of the three park rangers (hard to recognize because of this civilian clothes), whom we met two days back. He was very curious, if we drove the trail through Canyonlands, the road he discouraged so much. "Did you do the Bobby’s Hole and Hill Elephant? Was it hard? Many times did you hit boulders?" - asked the ranger. After we answered to all of his questions, an employee of the national park changed the tone of the conversational. He even started to smile. When we finally shook hands, he congratulated on our successful journey on one of the most technically challenging 4x4 trails in Utah.

4x4 trail in Needles District On the top of the Elephant Hill