Well today has been an eventful day. I have a few more tan lines and a few more scratches, but also a few more good hikes that I can say I have been on. Once again I found myself in Escalante National Monument out side of Bryce canyon with my dad and a friend of mine. I have mentioned this place earlier when I spoke about Calf Creek Falls. If you haven’t been, I suggest you change that. 🙂
Anyways this wonderful little hike begins about 15 miles down a dirt road. I don’t feel like giving the directions when it can be found at a dozen other web sites so here is a link to a place that has the directions. If you come from the south, the road is better maintained but not as interesting. If you come from the Cannonville side which follows highway 12 you have more scenic views, but you sacrifice road quality. Something with a little clearance is a good idea and or a necessary depending on the year and weather. Also I keep reading at other web sites that the trail is not marked from the road, well that is not correct anymore. They have updated that and there is a sign that points to the parking lot and trail head of the hike.
The hike begins at the mouth of the canyon, which starts off narrow but quickly opens up to a large scenic view of the sandstone canyon. The rock is interesting to look at because you can see the geological effects of many ages upon it. There are layers that are eroded, shifted then stacked on once again by many more layers of rock. Also a few fault lines can be seen. Hopefully by the end of this next semester I can talk even more about this. Over all this hike remains open and scenic for about 4 miles before it intersects with another wash and ends, but we did not go that far.
The river bed winds back and forth through the canyon. Its mostly sandy and can be somewhat tiring. Along with this, the hike is almost entirely in the sun. Bring a lot of water and sun screen. I carried about 60 oz of water and went through most of that, so bring that much or more. Also bring a snack and enjoy the silence of the canyon. There are plenty of areas where you can stop and appreciate nature a little.
We were tipped from a local that when hiking down the gorge we need to investigate some of the side canyons or in his words “If it looks interesting take a minute and explore the thing.” It took a while but we did begin to find little washes that took us off towards the canyon wall. The first few that we explored turned out to be duds and ended abruptly or just provided a few cool rock formations but nothing more then that. It was not long before we found a little gem amidst the canyon walls.
About two hours down the canyon there is a wash that cuts back into what looks like be another canyon to the right. Its quite noticeable so it wont be to hard to find. The little white sanded slot canyon that we found is exactly that. Its about 20 or 30 feet at its deepest, but the thing is narrow. Its about 200 or 300 yards long of shoulder to shoulder, back to back shimmy action. Its actually a blast. There are points that you have to clamber under a rock (it actually looks kind of like a brain) and hop from rock to rock that were jammed into the slot. The two hours down the canyon is actually worth it when you find this little canyon. After doing some research I found out that the canyon is called slythern slot. The fun little hike quickly comes to an abrupt end after a technical two rock hop, but there is also one other cool thing about this canyon that I have not mentioned yet.
As we entered into the canyon we noticed this white stand along hoodoo with a cool red cap called Lost Spire Hoodoo. My friend had this extreme desire to go climb it so we worked our way out of our fun little canyon and climbed our way up to the hoodoo. After crossing a few hundred yards of white sand stone we were at the base of the hoodoo. From a distance it does not seem all that big, but when you stand next to the thing, you realize its about 50 feet tall and quite dangerous to climb, so he didn’t. We rested here for a bit, then once again headed back to the main canyon.
After getting back to the main wash it was not long before what appeared to be another slot canyon could have formed. But don’t be deceived, it actually turns into nothing exciting and ends with a dangerous 12 foot climb and another 10 foot climb that leads no where. Hence my few new scratches. After this we sat down and had a quick snack, watched my friend do some yoga and then headed back. The total round trip is about 4 hours. So plenty of time to hit up the another canyon just a few miles away. That’s the story of next weeks blog though. 🙂