Monday, June 8, 2009

Hite, Goblin Valley, Capital Reef

Sunday, May 31
We got up before sunrise and went to the other side of the canyon to watch the sun paint the mesa and goosenecks below us. After breakfast we all piled into the Jeep and went down the Moki Dugway and drove through the Valley of the Gods. We stopped frequently for photographs.

We tried to drive into Johnson Canyon. We could see the road below us from Muley Point and I saw places where we could get to the edge of mesa and look down into the San Juan River. Unfortunately, we found the road gated and posted ‘Keep Out’.

The odometer reads 26,725 less than 2,000 miles so far. About 80 miles a day. Ed and Jeanne enroute to Alaska are averaging 542 miles a day.

We drove an hour north to the Colorado River. I had heard Farley Canyon was a good place to paddle the boats. We first stopped at Hite and dumped and took on fresh water. The CG here is not up to our usual standards. It is not scenic, plus we are at 3,700 feet and it’s 90 in the shade.

We heard that the road to Farley Canyon was high clearance. Maybe. The road to the camping area was first class. The road that may or may not go to the river from there was not appealing. Plus the canyon was all on dry land. I wanted to paddle a narrow canyon, not the river. The yaks stayed on top of Pelli.

While dumping I noted the fellow ahead of us had several fiberglass boxes on his trailer, each stenciled with the contents. For example, Utensils. One was marked Lizard Box. I had to ask. He said it was his name for his ex-wife’s attorney. He said the attorney and his ex were full of shit and that he carried his sewer hose in the Lizard Box. Satisfaction is sometimes easy.

My good friend Walter writes: “Where are you in Utah? What city are you near? Why lack of water? None in the parks? Don't put so much in the scotch, then you will be OK.” I am never sure if Walter reads the Blog or just the emails. I am not sure if he knows to click on the Blog link at the bottom of my email notes.

I will try to address his questions. We are in and will be in the southeastern and south central part of the state for sometime. We will gain elevation as necessary to keep cool. Cities? There are none, just a few very small towns.

On lack of water. If you bisect Kansas north to south and extended the line to the Canadian border and south through Texas, the area west of the line is mostly desert - an area lacking in water. Without the mountains to capture the moisture from the clouds drifting east from the Pacific, it would all be like Nevada. Utah has vast tracks of land without nearby high mountains and so little rainfall.

In re water with my scotch, I have enough water for that, but not enough really good whisky.

Today. we drove about 90 minutes north on UT95 and UT24 to Goblin Valley SP. We stopped along the way for a short side to Little Egypt. [See pictures]

After lunch and a nap, Dorothy wanted to check out the facilities, specifically the showers she plans to use tonight. I said I would walk with her. Bad idea. On the way back, I noted that Jim and Gayle, parked next to us had their awning part way out. I also noted how well not only the awing, but both rigs, looked with the Entrada and Navajo sandstone behind them. A great photo op! So I unrolled the awning, but did not bother to put in the support arms. There was not a breath of breeze. I got the pictures and went inside to see if I could get on the internet. Almost immediately I heard a rattle outside. In a second we had a blast of 40+ plus wind. The awning acted like a sail and broke both arms. One arm came crashing down and put a small hole near my ankle. Good thing we seldom need or use the awing.

There are 24 sites here. Only two are occupied by rentals. Most every RV we see on the road is a rental. It does not compute.

We said goodbye to Gayle and Jim who headed north today, first for a much needed Wal*Mart shopping binge in Price. We enjoyed our short week with them. The damage. KoKo broke their windshield and they broke our awing. Jim has the same cell amp and Verizon modem that we do. He connects when ours will not. We offered to trade.

We headed back south to Hanksville and turned west to Capital Reef NP. We arrived about 11 and that was fortunate as the CG was filling up fast. It was full by 2PM. It is nice to have water and dump, plus big red rocks, fruit trees and green grass for $5 a day. We have stayed in many National Park campgrounds, but I think is probably the best. May have to stay more than four days because we like it so much.

Our neighbors are Don and Elizabeth from Montrose, CO who are here for their 29th anniversary. We both plan to dine at Café Diablo. We picked up a menu this afternoon on the way back from marketing in Loa – the closest grocery. [The grocery also sells vacuums and yard goods]

Dorothy slept until 7:45 and I was real quiet to not wake her. We had wanted to get away early for a hike in the early slant light and before the heat arrived. However, the sun had other ideas and it hid behind full overcast until almost noon. So we lazed around until almost 10.

We took the scenic drive to Capital Gorge. When we got to the parking lot, we realized that the last time we were here, the gate into the gorge was closed due to high water. So we enjoyed seeing new wonders even under overcast skies.

We got back for lunch, napped and lazed away the afternoon mixing in a few maintenance chores.

Note to file, nylon deteriorates in sunlight. Replace annually. Dorothy noted one of the tie-down straps for the yaks on top of the Jeep was hanging down. The strap had parted in the middle, rotted by sunlight. Kindly the yaks had stayed in position.

Tonight we dined at Café Diablo. We decided to order starters and forego an entrée. I ordered the starters: Rattlesnake and Empanadas. Dorothy selected Duck Mariachi and Painted Salmon. Each dish has multiple flavors. We each tasted the others dish. I though Dorothy’s were even better than mine.

Back at the CG, we stuffed down a small strawberry-rhubarb pie with whipped cream.

We got away at 8 with Don and Elizabeth to Cathedral Valley. This is a 60 plus mile all day drive on dirt roads to areas most visitors to Cap Reef never see. We saw two vehicles all day and one was a NPS vehicle. This sort of drive is the reason we bought the Jeep.

The weather was not all that cooperative, it was overcast all day. The forecast for coming days was worse as a new Pacific front is coming in. Still, it was enjoyable and incredibly scenic. The topography changed more times than we could tally.

The goal was in the middle of the loop drive, the massive cathedral rock formations - monoliths 500 feet tall. We captured the images, but the pictures do not come close to describing what we saw in the valley. It’s all on such a large scale.

Catheral Valley

There are other ways into Cathedral Valley, we took the long way today. We hope to be able to enter from Ten Thousand Lakes Mountain when we move there. The decent from the 10,000 foot mountain to the 7,000 foot desert is supposed to be spectacular

We were tired puppies before we made it back to the CG. The wind picked up mid-afternoon – remember that front. Happily, there is NO dust blowing in the green CG. The temps for the weekend are forecast to be 10-15 below normal.

Dawn brought bright blue skies. We joined the Ranger led hike into Cohab Canyon. This hike started from the campground and went up 400 hundred feet to the mouth of the canyon. We had done the canyon before from the other end avoiding steep slope. It was chilly when we started at 8, but by 9:30 the sun was warm and we were over-dressed. So when the ranger left us, we returned to CG to change clothes.

Other than going into town for mail, we lazed the rest of day away. By cocktail time, the sky was overcast.

Sunday, June 7
Dawn again brought bright blue skies. Dorothy was up for a hike and suggested Cassidy Arch. Since this is listed in the park brochure as ‘Strenuous’ - 3.6 miles with a 950-foot elevation gain – I was delighted and challenged with her selection. The first ¼ mile goes UP from the floor of the wash. The trail then begins a more gradual ascent following ledge walls. At all times you have good views.

At the turn to gain access to view the arch, it’s still a half-mile. The trail is not as kind here and Dorothy elected to snooze on a rock while I tempted death crossing the slick rock. At one place I almost turned around. You have to cross slick rock going down steeply. What gave me pause is if you fall, you will probably not recover. The rock is shaped like a funnel to the cliff edge. I reconnoitered it several times and talked myself into and out of it more than once. I finally did it. Funny thing, I did not even notice it on the return. Uphill is better than downhill.

Dorothy’s rest did not make her feet recover, but somehow she made it down the trail. She said her motivation was for a glass of ice tea and a pain pill.

We decided to stay at Cap Reef CG for another four days. This is one of the least visited parks and also one of our favorites. [Glacier is number one and Cap Reef may be number two] Since it is sandwiched between Zion and Bryce to the west and Arches and Canyonlands to the east, perhaps people are just in a hurry and bypass one of the most scenic parks?

On our hike this morning, we saw three other couples, four Italian men, a back country ranger and gal (off duty ranger?) who ran over two miles up the trail to give him a message and then ran back down. That’s only 12 people in 4.5 hours. From the overlook, we could see all the cars on the Scenic Road. A quick drive through of ten miles of a huge park is about all most people see of Cap Reef.

Tonight is our 360th in KoKo. Figuring a low residual value for KoKo, this night will be $166. At this rate soon KoKo will be dispensing Grants to us every morning.

I have heard the average RV owner drives 6,000 miles a year. That means most owners use them for weekends and vacations. We are doing 15,000 miles a year and over 200 nights a year.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you guys are enjoying Cap. Reef. Keep up the hiking! Was the rhubarb pie any good?