Today we decided to see what things looked like from the bottom up rather than the top down.
The Lower Monument Canyon Trail starts at the east side of the park just off the highway. You first walk for about 1 mile along the boundary fence behind some massive houses. Then you hug a mesa wall as you climb up about 500 vertical feet moving up Monument Canyon to the point of the mesa to see Independence Monument. We could have returned the same way but we took the rougher trail back down Wedding Canyon to make a 5 mile or 8 km loop.
We went counter clockwise in the path above.
It is pretty flat until you get to the canyon and again once we were out of Wedding Canyon. Those two bumps at the end just about killed us. By then we were saying “Are we there yet?” and first one hill then another appeared.
It was another hot day with a projected high of 37C. We started the hike at about 8:30. On the way in there were some high clouds that protected us from the full sun. As we headed back the skies cleared. Since we were on the other side of the mesa we got the occasional bit of shade but as we exited Wedding Canyon to come back to the start it was full, blazing sun just when we were the most tired. We were back to the car at 12:30.
Heading into the canyon. We didn’t realize it at the time but that bit of a spire in the distance is the peak of Independence Monument.
As you can see from the topo map we hugged the edge of the mesa, going in and out of three valleys, always climbing.
Jennie spotted a lizard.
And later a fatter one.
Looking back on our path in one of the valleys.
The last valley, target in sight.
As we walked up the side of this valley a pair of Desert Bighorn Sheep walked along below us, always just a bit ahead.
They eventually crossed the path to go up the hill, sit down and watch us go by.
As we got closer to the monument we could start seeing down the canyon to all the viewpoints we had been at yesterday.
Every canyon had a spire on the end.
And we are there.
I took a lot of pictures from different angles.
There was a path that climbed up to the base. I made it part way up before I decided I didn’t need to go all the way.
Looking back on the point of the mesa that we are walking around.
From here the Monument Canyon Trail continues another 3.5 miles and 600 feet up to the canyon rim at the trailhead for the Coke Ovens that I was at yesterday. Too long for us. I read one guy’s blog and he started at the bottom at sunrise. He made to the top and back down by noon.
We could now look north in the main canyon to see some more of the side canyons.
We can see them but they probably didn’t notice us.
We sat, had a snack and nice long rest before heading on. Normally we would eat lunch at the turnaround point but it was only about 10:30.
Wedding canyon was not as interesting. We just walked along the base of a straight high wall.
A last look back.
Part of the time the shade was oh so close, just 10 feet up hill.
Then for a lovely but all too short section we were out of the sun..
Looking across the canyon.
The visitor’s center and a campground are up on top.
Jennie spotted another sheep. This time a lone younger male.
He came quite close to use before heading off again.
Trying to look majestic.
Back up the canyon at the entrance.
We passed a wildlife official heading in with what looked like an antenna. I wonder if he was going to try and track the sheep we had seen but they didn’t seem to have radio collars on.
As I said it was very wide open and hot here.
“We have to go over that? ^%&^%&*&^”
Finally that little patch of red in the parking lot.
When we arrived there were 5 cars in the lot. Most of the people were better at getting up early and we saw them heading out as we went in. When we got back the only one there was for the wildlife guy.
We retreated back to the RV for lunch and an afternoon siesta.