May 23-31, 2010 - Continued

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is 1.9 million acres of sandstone canyons, plateaus and unique rock formations and we are now on the north end of the monument – it reaches south all the way to Lake Powell.

On Wednesday we drove 26 miles down the Hole-in-the Rock Scenic Backway, a 57 mile rough dirt road that dead-ends at Hole-in-the Rock near Lake Powell. In 1880 Mormon settlers who were seeking a shortcut to the San Juan area in southeastern Utah, encountered a 1,200-foot cliff. They cut a passage and lowered their wagons over the cliff to the canyon floor and the Colorado River. We didn’t make it all the way to the end of the road as we stopped at Devil’s Garden and also stopped to hike into some slot canyons.

Devil’s Garden is a picnic area and a “garden” of unique rock formations and arches. We had a great time hiking among the rock formations and trying to get pictures of some of the lizards we saw.

This Yarrow’s Spiny Lizard wouldn’t sit still long enough for us to get a picture but we were finally able to catch him resting in the shade.

We also stopped at Dry Fork Coyote Gulch where we hiked back to some slot canyons. We first hiked (or climbed) into Peek-A-Boo Canyon. Peek-A-Boo is a hanging canyon with the opening about 12 feet up on the wall.
Rex easily climbed up using the small hand and foot holds, but Nancy had some difficulty – finally making it with Rex’s help after scraping and bruising her knees. After the first climb you are immediately faced with another climb but this time there are no hand and foot holds to help. Rex made it up this climb with difficulty but Nancy was not able to negotiate the climb. Rex continued on into this beautiful, sculptured slot that extends approximately a quarter mile while Nancy rested and pondered how she was going to get back down out of there.  Can you see her way back at the mouth of the canyon?

The rest of this beautiful canyon was just as difficult to negotiate as the first part with lots of climbing and jumping.

When we finally exited Peek-A-Boo we hiked a half mile down to Spooky Canyon. Spooky is different from Peek-A-Boo in that you can just walk into it with no climbing, but it is a very narrow canyon. We had to go through most of it sideways and suck everything in to squeeze through. Rex found a spot where his chest was too big to get through, but was finally able to squeeze through when he took off his outer shirt. We were both able to get through the entire 0.3 miles of the canyon and back out – beautiful, but not a canyon for anyone who is claustrophobic!


The third canyon we hiked into was the Dry Fork narrows, a much wider canyon that goes for several miles. We hiked up this beautiful canyon for over a mile before we turned around.

There is a fourth slot canyon a 1½ miles down from Spooky called Brimstone Canyon but the description said it was very difficult and had numerous places where you can jump down but it is impossible to climb back out without climbing gear. A hiker was stranded in Brimstone Canyon for 8 days after jumping down one of these places and could not climb back out. Not a canyon we even wanted to try!

When we were through with the slot canyons it was too late to drive any further down the Hole-In-The Rock Road and we were also getting tired so we headed back.

Thursday we drove down the Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Backway, another rough and rutted dirt road. We stopped at Grosvenor Arch, a double arch. We had to bribe that Falcon to pose for this picture.

Further down the road we stopped to hike the Cottonwood Narrows, a narrow Navajo Sandstone canyon. We parked at the north trailhead and hiked 1.5 miles to the south trailhead. You can either hike the road back a mile to the north trailhead or retrace the 1.5 miles in the canyon. We decided going back through the canyon would be much more scenic than the road.

Friday the wind blew hard all day so we decided to take a break from sightseeing and hiking. Rex did some needed maintenance on the vehicles and the 5th wheel and Nancy got caught up on the blog and other necessary chores we have been neglecting lately. It also gave us a chance to rest and relax. We met Richard and Julie camped next to us in the campground and went out for some great milkshakes at Henri’s Drive In in town. We spent the rest of the afternoon visiting with them and restringing a couple of their day-night shades.

Red Canyon

Saturday and Sunday were beautiful warm days and we spent them hiking in Red Canyon, which is just a few miles down the road from our campground. Red Canyon is beautiful and has a lot of hoodoos and rock formations. Saturday we started out on the Arches Trail, a short trail with 15 small arches. We were able to find all 15 of the arches.

After the Arches Trail, we hiked the Losee Canyon Trail.

Sunday we went back to Red Canyon and hiked the Birdseye, Hoodoo and Pink Ledges trails.

We found this camel laying beside the trail!

This is the ultimate way to travel and camp. This bus has sleeping cubby holes for 26 people – kind of like sleeping in a honeycomb. The kitchen pulls out from the back end. We don’t think we would like to travel this way!

The dogs were totally worn out (or dog tired!) at the end of our hikes - Cody is never this quiet.


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