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Two Words, Cosmic Ashtray

Utah is a pretty great place to live when you love camping, hiking and adventuring. We have access to the most diverse terrain and it's all free if you're willing to go that route. Two weeks ago we were asked to go camping with three other ladies for our friend Katie's birthday; of course we said yes! We had just bought a new tent, and had polished off our gear collection so we were more then excited to go. Come Friday we loaded up the Tiguan and drove the 5 hours south into the desert.  We arrived to the gravel road to take us to a site at around 10:45pm, then had to trek down and around a gravel Bureau of Land Management (BLM) road to find an area to turn into our campsite for the weekend. By the time we gathered rocks and bumbled through the construction of our new tent, it was midnight. 

The next morning we woke up in awe because we couldn't see where we actually were the night before. We were atop a point of a rock formation that overlooked a stunning view of the desert before us. Then we cooked breakfast. As we ate we discussed the days activities. One epic hike into the desert was our task. Katie was on a mission to find this monument, somewhat known as the 'Cosmic Ashtray'. We had to drive down to a fork in the BLM road, drive down that road a little bit farther, park, then start our journey. Now, to get to the Cosmic Ashtray, you have the luxury of following a trail for oh, let's say 50 yards, after that its all reliant on GPS navigation. That being said, we continued onward...and upward. We were quite a site to see, 5 ladies, 3 dogs, and the vast open rocky desert of Southern Utah. We traversed up and down sand stone formations, crossing over the wind eroded lines. We trusted Katie to find the monument with just her GPS and reading the landscape. There was a peak in front of us that Katie was sure was the Ashtray, when we made it to the top after meandering a steep sandstone side, it was no where to be found. So we kept of trekking. Two and half hours later we went up over and down one more formation, when we heard, "Oh my god we found it!" At this point the dogs were tired, our dog, Lucy, in particular didn't want to walk anymore, and we found and removed a cactus pricker from her leg. I picked her up and carried her the last little bit to finally reach the Ashtray. Walking up to the hole in the rock was astonishing. The towering walls on the side and the dark red sand were unbelievable, making perspective hard to decipher. To actually get down into the thing we had to set up a rope for support because the angel of the rock face was so steep. Once I got to the sand floor it felt unreal, I felt so tiny, it was kind of eerie. After I got my picture taken I scaled back up the wall to safety, the sand very likely could've been hiding sand traps everywhere. Once we relaxed, cooled the dogs and ate our snacks, we started heading back to our cars. Retracing our steps from the previous GPS tracks, and the dogs noses to help, the way back was just as hard. Getting back to the actual trail was a blessing and a curse. The whole thing was deep, loose sand that made walking that much harder, something we paid little attention to on the way in due to our 'can do' attitudes. We kept thinking the road was just around the bend, never stopping of fear we couldn't get back up. Until finally I saw them in the distance, and we powered through.  Once we got back to the cars, ten miles later, we were all exhausted, took off our hiking boots to relieve our toes, and cracked some beers. It was all worth it. Later by the fire we toasted ourselves; 5 ladies, 3 dogs, and only relying on a GPS to get us to such an amazing formation in the middle of the freakin' desert.