Confluence Overlook Trail

When I arrived at Canyonlands National Park, I spoke with one of the rangers and she gave me some very good advice about hiking in the desert.  Carry water with you when you hike and carry something to snack on to keep your energy levels up.  She also told me about several of the trails I could hike as long as I could do ten miles (16 kilometers).  In the desert!  Um, sure!  I can do that!  My first thought was, I haven’t done ten miles since I’ve been having trouble with my knee.  Then she mentioned the name of one of the trails—The Confluence Overlook trail.


When the ranger mentioned the trail’s name, I knew I would be hiking it.  If you remember, when this trip began, I stayed at Wyalusing State Park in Wisconsin.  Wyalusing is located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers.  Then I drove down to stay at Pere Marquette State Park in Illinois, which is located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers.  The Confluence Overlook trail here in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park leads you through the desert to an overlook of the confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers.  I couldn’t pass on this hike because it seems confluences are a recurring theme to this trip.  The best part is, from the ground, this is the only way to see this particular confluence.  There is a four wheel drive road that leads you to a picnic table about a half mile from it.  I chose to hike.  Ten miles (sixteen kilometers) through the desert.


From the trailhead I hiked down into the canyon below, all the while thinking I would have to hike back up when I got back.  The temperatures at the bottom were very cool almost to the point of being cold, but I knew that would change so I pressed on.


I left on my hike very early in the morning, 6:00 AM my time.  The temperatures in the morning are not so bad and the first three hours were nice.  Flowers bloomed all along the trail as I hiked through canyons, rocky tops and the various cracks in the canyon walls that allowed me to pass from one canyon into another.


By the time I reached this grass-filled canyon, the temperatures had risen noticeably.IMG_8451a

The trail is marked with these piles of rocks known as cairns.  Following them isn’t difficult most of the time, but does require a lot of trust, which is what I thought about as I followed them.  I don’t trust government or politicians, yet the people who placed these cairns work for the government.  No government anywhere in the world truly cares for its people, they’re only trying to keep them happy or in-line for that day when they need them.  Politicians are the same way, they’re only trying to make you happy long enough to get your vote or to get your support.  And anyone who believes a government or a politician is the answer to their problems is only fooling themselves.  So why trust the employee of any government?


This district of Canyonlands National Park is known as the Needles.  While you hike up and down and through the canyons of the Confluence Overlook trail you will get dramatic glimpses of the various rock formations.  Maybe I trusted the employee of the government who placed these cairns because I believed that person saw the beauty in this place and wanted to lead me and those who follow to that beauty.


Including this rock formation which is visible, in the distance, from the slickrock trail.  The Confluence Overlook trail runs east and west, while the slickrock trail runs north to south.  The trailheads for these two trails are about five hundred feet (less than two hundred meters) apart.  So while hiking on the Confluence Overlook trail, you hike toward the rock formation, eventually passing it as you hike toward the confluence of the Colorado and Green rivers.  Then when you hike back toward the trailhead, you hike toward and pass this rock formation as well.


The Confluence Overlook trail in Canyonlands National Park is not for beginners.  The trail winds through the desert over rough and varied terrain.  It passes over and then through several canyon walls, climbing several hundred feet (100 meters or more) in some places, there are crevices to negotiate and some scrambling is required.  If you don’t already know what scrambling is before you hike here, don’t hike here.  The weather this time of year, by 10:30 AM is hot and keeps getting hotter throughout the day.  The ranger I spoke to on the first day told me to hike early in the morning and try to be done by 1:00 PM.  It was advice I heeded and I’m here to write to you today, so I would consider it good advice.


The reward for this difficult hike is the scenery.


And seeing a sight very few people have ever viewed.


The confluence of the Colorado and Green rivers.


Now all I had to do was hike back 5 miles (8 kilometers) through the desert.


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