Moab Happenings Archive
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Some Good Outings When You’re Not One Hundred Percent
by Kathy Grossman

Not everyone out on Moab’s trails is in tip-top physical condition, bombing along bike singletracks and scrambling up fins and things. A friend recently told me he was too out of shape. Another is recovering from surgery. One of my sons’ friends is seven months pregnant, and I myself am recovering from Covid-19. Is there a way for all of us to get back out into nature without compromising our health or recovery? Here are some suggestions for some outdoor fun and renewal for less-than-perfectly-fit visitors, relatives, or you.

Define your own personal hiking goal, not a guidebook, a park ranger’s suggestions, or even this column. Enjoy, drink in, unplug, and participate in a physically appropriate way in nature, with the natural view- and soundscapes the main attractions.

Stay very local. You could walk Mill Creek Parkway, Rotary, Old, or Swanny Parks, and the paved, multi-use non-motorized Moab Canyon Pathway that runs along the Colorado River next to Utah State Route 128, the “River Road.” The Scott Matheson Wetlands on the west side of town is also a fabulous place to wander, especially on early morning weekdays And, down below the Mill Creek Canyon Trailhead at the end of Powerhouse Lane, is a lovely beach area with boulders and logs for contemplative sitting. Just be cautious about the construction work going on along the lane itself.

Go to Arches. Even those with small children can putter around the little nature trail behind the Visitor Center. Then, feel your spirits rise as you pass The Penguins formation on the main road up into the park. Trails to and around Balanced Rock, Broken and Skyline Arches, and Double Arch all have minimal to moderate elevation gains. Even the more challenging trails to Landscape or Delicate Arch are doable if you only do part of them.
If you can tolerate longer car rides (and I recommend not driving yourself), Dead Horse Point Loop Trail at the State Park has a modest elevation gain. Back in the valley, Dinosaur Tracks and Copper Ridge Dinosaur Trails have the added attraction of some fascinating paleontology. Sand Flats Recreation Area east of town also has plenty of slickrock-and-sand areas for cautious walking, especially this time of year when there are fewer ATVs and Jeeps. The Pinyon Trail Primitive Hiking Loop is also a tame lollipop of a walking exercise.

Watch the weather.
October is famously fabulous in Moab, but November can also be delightful, especially if you like things a bit interesting and blustery. Trust your favorite weather forecast sources and, like the old cowboy I live with, keep your eyes on the clouds. Thanksgiving Day can also be great for hiking: a jug of water, a turkey sandwich, and thou beside me on the trail, as you let your soul drink in the glories of our area.

Assess parking lots and trailheads. Lots of parked cars could mean avoid this trail! Hiking in the time of Covid might also mean avoiding carpooling and limiting your hiking partners to those who will respect your limitations. Hiking early or hiking late may also reduce your exposure. Though I’m now testing negative, when I do come upon other people, I put on my mask.

Dig out the trekking poles. This might be a time for extra support as your balance and footing could be compromised during phases of recovery and pregnancy. Plus, you just might not be thinking straight. Run your hiking ideas by with your doctor, a friend, or physical therapist before charging off. As one blogger noted, “Exercising too soon can really mess you up.”

But also remember, like last month’s solar eclipse, this time may feel physically dark and difficult, but the sun of recovery will return. Pregnancies don’t last forever, and they do have a delightful outcome. Take things slowly and stay safe. Delicate Arch isn’t going anywhere..

Kathy Grossman

Kathy Grossman is a southern California native, a cartoonist and writer, and lover of deserts. Now living between Mill and Pack Creeks, she has been in Moab since 2011.

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