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Canyonlands National Park, (The Needles District) Utah

The road that leads to The Needles District of Canyonlands reminded me of the scenery of a western movie. All I wish I could do is jump on a horse and ride into the open land. Wow, this is an absolutely breathtaking view!

I'm starting my hike at the head trail of Squaw Canyon. No cars are in the parking lot, meaning no one is on the trail. I did see a few cars driving on the main road, but this park belongs to me! Ten minutes into the hike, fear starts gripping me straight in my gut. I'm trying to understand why. Why is this space giving me this creepy feeling? I've been hiking for so many years by myself but never had this feeling. I keep moving forward, trying to be very alert. When I hike, I often find myself in la la land. I can't do that now. On top of being scared, I also noticed it was tough to follow the trail. The cairns are too far from each other and blend into the rocks. I have AllTrail on, so I'm comfortable finding my way back to the trail. This is crazy. I never got off a trail so many times as I am now. I watch my phone constantly to ensure I am on the right path.

I start a conversation with myself, trying to get a hold of my fear. Most of the time I am in the woods when I am hiking. The trees around me honestly feel like a friendly big hug for me, and here I am, feeling very vulnerable in this open land. Understanding the source of my fear is helpful, and the only way to get over it is by putting one step in front of the other. I usually love silence while hiking, but this is the first time I decided to turn on my music. The animal footprint I notice in the mud doesn't help either. I move fast!

Since I left Moab, I don't have service, and I also realized how remote I am, so I sent a message with Garmin to my people to let them know my location.

This hike is absolutely insane! How amazing is it to be on top of the giant rocks! The rock formations are stunning. I love rock scrambling; it is so much fun! However, some sections are challenging, and I wish I had another inch on me. I don't like when I get to a spot when my first reaction is, "oh fu**! How am I supposed to do that?" When swear words come out of my mouth, I know I'm in a pickle, but somehow I did it!

I see the footprint again, and this time I am in a better state of mind. Fear is no longer my primary emotion. At this point, I am back to enjoying the silence around me. I turned off my music a while ago. I take the time to examine the footprint, and without a doubt, it belongs to a deer (later, I learn it is a Bighorn sheep).

Lesson learned, try to stay focused while in fear mode. Then, you might realize there is a simple answer to your creative imagination.

I still have time to do one more hike, so I hike the Slickrock Foot Trail, where I have a good view of The Needles in the distance. Today was a good hiking day with 10.5 miles. I will sleep well tonight!

I decided to change my plans, and I am camping in the park for the night. My original plan of spending half a day in this district is out the window. It's so beautiful that I don't want to leave.

I know it's going to be very cold but being folded into the night with this beauty is worth it. I will layer as I did in the past. I hope my power station will last the night to power my heating blanket. It's going to be a good test. I send another message to my people about my location and my decision to stay and camp.

A note regarding the AllTrail app: I always carry a power bank with me since I know it will drain my phone battery quite quickly.

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