Way back in June, after my spectacular collapse at the Steamboat Marathon, Greta, Nora and I embarked on a series of day hikes that are way too cool not to chronicle here. However, in the interest of getting this done, I’m going to be fairly brief and mainly let the photos speak for themselves.
First up is our fourth hike, because I’m waiting on some pictures of the other hikes from Nora and Greta. At this point, Nora and I had dropped Greta off in Denver so we could do some “more extreme” hiking in Utah.
The first hike was based out of Escalante, a tiny town that’s off the beaten path of major national parks in Utah — Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonland — but in an area that’s no less spectacular. After a drive down a knife-edge ridge to get to the town, we checked in to a local motel, and awoke at the crack of dawn for our hike.
Even getting to the trailhead was a bit of an adventure, involving 45 miles on a gravel road, through a herd of cattle (driven by genuine cowboys riding genuine horses and shouting genuine cowboy orders to the cows, like “hyah” and “git along”).
The hike was supposed to be a 11-mile loop involving two cars parked at two separate trailheads, but since we only had one car, we stopped at the second trailhead (where we’d be exiting) and started to walk 2 miles down the road to the first trailhead. Amazingly, within about a minute a truck driven by a very friendly scoutmaster came by and offered us a ride to the first trailhead. After a hilarious incident involving Mormon crickets (which will have to wait told some other time), we were dropped off and started on our way. At first we were walking along the open desert, which was beautiful in itself:
Then we hit the side of Escalante Canyon, and it wasn’t immediately apparent how to get down. Fortunately our guidebook showed us how to do it — it involved descending a crack that was just wide enough for me to squeeze through, after removing my backpack. Here’s Nora scaling the entry:
And here’s a picture that shows how close to the edge of the canyon this gap is:
After plunging down to the bottom of the canyon and wading around a bit in the Escalante, we began our hike back up Coyote Gulch. There was a little creek running through the whole gulch, and most of the time, the easiest hiking was just walking in the water.
All along the way were fantastic rock formations:
As we wound our way up the canyon, we saw three separate arches, which were cool, but not quite as photogenic as the ones in Arches National Park.
It was a hot day, but because the gulch was so narrow, we were usually able to find some shade along the way.
Finally we reached the point where our guidebook said we’d be able to clamber out of the canyon. The book suggested bringing a rope for hauling up your backpacks, but I was hoping that since I just had a small day-pack, I’d be fine. There were a couple hairy moments, but we ended up making it out without incident. Here’s a shot of Nora making her way up the final stretch of the climb.
I tracked our entire route using GPS — not so much because I thought it would help us navigate, but just to get a sense of where we had gone. Indeed, the satellite view of the route is pretty neat:
Here’s the entire GPS record of the hike.