On the weekend of January 16th, the tentatively named “GG Jamboree” took place. Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassadors from all over the country descended on the town of Moab, Utah for a weekend of hiking and camaraderie. Gatherings like this have happened in the past, but never before has such a large and diverse group been drawn to a single event. Our itinerary would take us to the canyons, craters and arches of two national parks. After a Friday evening of hugs and handshakes, we all hit the sack to rest up for the following day’s hike.
After breakfast on Saturday, the GGTA’s drove to our first trailhead of the weekend. Trail Ambassador Will Rietveld would be our fearless leader on all of our hikes this weekend, and today he was taking us to Jeep Arch.
We began by walking through a culvert pipe and following some railroad tracks to Gold Bar Canyon. After following the canyon for a bit, we arrived at the arch. Under the Jeep-shaped hole in the rock, we used the opportunity to take photos of each other, the desert landscape, and the distant La Sal mountains before continuing to hike.
After a break to shoot some promo videos and scramble on some rocks, we continued on to a cliff, which provided breathtaking views of the La Sals and into Arches National Park. The trail then led us down Culvert Canyon and back to our cars, where the group then split up to do some smaller hikes to Delicate Arch, Corona Arch, and Balance Rock.
On Sunday, Will led us into the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. Our goal for the day would be some ancient rock art at the end of the Peekaboo Trail. Hopes were dashed when the frosty slickrock trail became too slippery to traverse, although the braver among us did give it the old college try. Not all was lost, though! We had a blast scrambling along the canyon rims and playing on the various boulder formations. Once we were satisfied that enough of the canyon had been explored, we hiked back out to the trailhead and began discussing the most important topic of the day: Dinner.
Our Monday morning began with a drive into Canyonlands National Park’s Island in the Sky District. The road climbed steeply to the top of a 6000-foot plateau, where we would find our trailhead. Today’s itinerary would eventually take us around and into the crater known as Upheaval Dome, but first we trotted out to an overlook, which have us a great view into the crater. An informative sign presented two theories on the crater’s formation: a meteor strike or a salt done upheaval. There were also a few among us who weren’t ready to discard the possiblity of UFO activity.
The trail slowly wound down and around the crater’s edge before turning into a fun rock scramble to the bottom of the canyon. From here, many of us opted to take a side trail into the very center of the crater. The rock formations inside Upheaval Dome were beautiful, and the black “desert varnish” on the red stone walls around us created a breathtaking panoramic view.
Upon returning to the main trail, we wove around the bottom of the canyon, following the wash as it continued to circumnavigate the crater. Then, the time finally came that we had to make the steep 1500-foot ascent up the canyon walls. The trail was steep and challenging, but spirits remained high. At the end, it was unanimously decided that Upheaval Dome was our favorite hike of the trip.
Tuesday meant that our intrepid group of thru-hikers, peakbaggers, ultra runners, and weekend warrior hikers would have to part ways, but not before we went on one last, short hike. Will led us up the Portal Trail to a beautiful vista overlooking the town of Moab and the Green River. We took our last photos, gave our last hugs, and all wished that the trip didn’t have to end.
Never before had I hiked with such an experienced, adventurous, and friendly group of hikers. I found a whole hiker family on this trip, and I hope that it won’t be too long before our next reunion.
This post was contributed by Trail Ambassador Dan Bortz