15 April, 2016

M is for Moab, Utah

This is the story of how I ended up lost and dehydrated in the desert.

"Lost" as in, I (we) had gotten off the trail and didn't know how far we were from civilization, but we were in a National Park, we could hear traffic on a road - like a mirage, it was always too far away - so we knew we were... roughly in the southeastern corner of Utah.

"Dehydrated" as in, according to the sign in a park restroom, I was exhibiting the signs: headache, irritable, loss of focus, and we did not have much water left.

"Desert" as in, the high desert of Utah - glorious to look at, fantastic weather, high enough altitude that the air is thin and temperatures moderate, and arid enough that you never seem to sweat! 

THIS view. Was so worth it.

This is also the story of my "preparation" for a day of hiking: I had a 32-oz. water bottle (for the two of us) plus some homemade fruit jerky. I felt prepared.

This was the first time I "failed" at a hike: The trail was sort of an inverse horseshoe, so at the most distant point from the Nature Center there was a structure with a lovely stone wall overlooking the view, where people could drive up and get pictures, if they didn’t want to hike.

Drive. So, there was a road.

We rounded that point, and continued back the other side, listening to cars on the road just out of sight, hiking on the primitive trail marked only by stacks of flat stones.

It was exhilirating. It was beautiful. We took a million pictures. I started getting a little discombobulated, and kind of cranky about it. Was I dehydrated? Or was I just hangry? We had about a quarter of our water left, so I drank some of that and we kept going, trying to guess how much longer we’d be out here. It seemed never ending. 
I was SO exhausted.

There were signs all over in all the parks: STICK TO THE TRAIL! We tried, but finally got to the point where I could bear it no longer. We could hear the road off to our right, so decided to take a "shortcut" across to that road and take it back to the Nature Center. That must be quicker.


How could the road be so far off? We could HEAR it! Maybe the thin air makes sound travel farther.

We wound around cluelessly through the high desert, vaguely in the direction of the road until at long last we were there.  

Walking along the road seemed to take forever, though, too. At least we knew we were in the final stretch, so we finished off the water. At the Nature Center, I refilled at a water fountain, drank it all as we looked around, and refilled again. I think I was thirsty

I have since read that a general rule of thumb is to bring a quart of water for every hour hiking. (not counting altitude, heat, personal hydration needs, etc.) We had one quart between the two of us for some three hours of hiking at high altitude, in a desert. Oops!

Moral of the Story: Bring ample water and snacks into the desert!


  1. I'm taking that advice, for sure. How terrifying for you.
    Melanie Schulz from
    Melanie Schulz.com

    1. Believe me, now that I know, I'm taking that advice too!
      I wasn't really "scared". I was just so worn out I was on the brink of tears the whole time.. I married a saint.

  2. I'm visiting from A to Z. Great pictures. I've read several of your posts. You have quite an eclectic collection. Cool.

    1. Thanks Ann! I'll be sure to go check out your posts, too.

  3. I've never been in Moab, Utah. Looks much like the Grand Canyon, I think, thanks to the Colorado River. The farthest north in Utah I've been is Bluff, but that's a beautiful area -- and it was June and it was hot, very hot, and dry, very dry. My daughter was 4 1/2 mos. old and I had to watch her very closely so that her little face didn't get red and so I could keep her hydrated. Thanks for bringing back that memory for me. My daughter survived; she is 49 now.

    1. Oh yeah, I would not want the responsibility for a young one. Thing is, I've SEEN dehydration in others before! I should have known better.
      But, now I know.

  4. And always stick to the trail! I'm glad it had a happy ending, though. It's amazing how easily and quickly we can discover how much we're at the mercy of nature.

    It looks like a lovely place! I don't do well in heat, I tend to wilt.

    1. I'll never know if staying on the trail would have been quicker or not. I'm a former Park employee, so very much a rule follower, but really wondered how long I could make it.

  5. I remember that when we finally made it back to the car, those dehydrated apricots were the most delicious things I had ever eaten.

    1. That's right! You thought I was crazy for bringing them!


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