Wow, what a day! I slept in as late as I could, and ended up leaving camp at 7:30. First up, drive, drive, drive! Not bad though. Under 4 hours through Ute reservation in New Mexico then into Arizona and a brand new National Park! Petrified Forest!
This place is beautiful. The painted desert and petrified wood are so colorful, making a hugely dramatic landscape.
And! Free backcountry permits! Yay! I talked to the woman at the front desk and she recommended the southern district, so why not? That way I could explore the park all day, then start my overnight trip fairly late in the afternoon. A late start is definitely usually what you’d want to do, but here it’s ideal! Why? Well, there’s no water or even trails, for starters, lol. You’ve just got to be over a mile from your car and the road. Done!
This park is interesting because they close the whole thing every night! Why? People steal the petrified wood! I’m sure I’m guilty of this sometimes too, but humans are crazy. We tend to think “well if it’s just me it doesn’t hurt anybody, right?” But the thing is, usually it’s not just you, it’s lots of others as well, and it really does make a difference over time. Anyway, just interesting. I will definitely not be taking any petrified wood as a souvenir...
So, this place is awesome. I checked out viewports, went on several short hikes, took photos and had a grand old time. Freaking sunny here! Dang!
At the end of the day, when I went on the backpacking part of my journey, I stopped hiking rather quickly. Why? Shade! Glorious shade. It wasn’t super hot today, but there was barely a cloud in the sky. Just beats down on ya in the desert!
After my break I decided it’d be cool to set up a sweet sunset time lapse in this very cool environment. “Hmm, why don’t I climb that over there? Hmm, this is quite a little knife edge. How am I going to get down? Hmm, I can t really climb up either! Well I guess I’ll just have to go down this way...” and I fell as soon as I tried it. Thankfully just a few small cuts on my hands. Probably good to do something stupid on day 3 so I’m ready to avoid those situations in future days. I set up camp and now I’m going through and looking at the photos and videos I took today. I’m excited to camp here, but it’s a full moon. Going to be sooooo bright in this exposed terrain. More exploring and driving awaits tomorrow!