Follow by Email

Friday, March 31, 2017

Joining Forces Again - 4x4 / High Clearance Recommended @ GSENM

From my experiences at the southern part of The Grand Staircase- Escalante NM, getting to The Wave Trailhead, the road conditions do change with the weather.  

I was glad I had rented the 4x4 Jeep for the day of our hike to ensure I could get there, as it rained the day before.

I had been cautioned about the slippery clay spots on the road when there is rain, the washboarding of the road, and the deep ruts from vehicles and runoff, by the rangers at the visitors center.

I knew going to the northern part of Escalante in UT, I was going to face the same road conditions. 

When I told Joanne that I was going north she was also interested in seeing the area and she offered to use her high clearance Sprinter van where needed for both of us to explore what there was to see..

I take my Prius many places in my travels.  There are some places I just can't go due to clearance height and there are places that if I'm careful I can make it.

The biggest risk of problems with the Prius is bad roads.  Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument has the worse roads I have ever tried to drive on with my Prius.

Above I'm at the Hole In The Wall Road disbursed campground.  The roads in the campground were heavily rutted in sections, uneven, and gullies.  It was better for me to drive off-road than to use the road, as they were so bad.

The woman we met at the Visitor Center was proud to say they had just graded the northern section of the Hole In The Rock Road.  I found the grader had left a ridge at one entrance to the campground that made it impossible for my Prius to get over it.  I needed to use the rutted road into the campground in it's place.

The other choice would have been to find a shovel to break the graded brim down as I did at the RTR.

The first day of exploring we decided to drive the Hole In The Rock Road as far as we could. We didn't know if the Prius could make it so Joanne drove us in her Sprinter and it worked well from a high clearance over and around deep ruts.

The last 20 or so miles of the 60 mile road my Prius would not have made it.  Her van with its high clearance did very well until the last 10 mikes and we eventually turned around believing it should only be attempted with a 4x4.

The side roads to Devils Garden and Dance Hall Rock were well maintained and the Prius would have made it on these roads if I had taken it.  All other dirt roads to locations and trailheads needed high clearance and in some cases 4x4.

My message to those that wish to explore GSENM is that you need a high clearance vehicle.  All wheel drive crossover vehicles did well even where 4x4 was recommended, but the roads were dry for our visit up there.

If the roads are wet they are impassible where there are clay patches or sections that turn so slippery that getting through with 4x4 is not possible at times.

It's a beautiful area to visit but planning ahead to have the right vehicle is important.  I was lucky to have met up with Joanne, not only for our wonderful hikes to Havasu Falls and The Wave, but we got to also share our efforts and vehicles to see as much as we did.

When I return to UT Escalante I may plan on renting a 4x4 for at least two days to access trailheads that were too hard this year, or use my Tacoma pickup truck for my 2017 Travels and go to as many places that require clearance or 4x4 that I wouldn't take my Prius.

It's a thought I am still thinking about.


Days 87 & 88 3/30 & 31/17 - Storm Sends Us Back to Page, AZ

Spring in southern UT can bring rain or snow or both.  RT 12 is the only viable road in and out of the Town of Escalante with 8000 + elevation to the west where Bryce Canyon, NP is, and northeast through Boulder, UT to the west side of Capitol Reef, NP also at high elevation. Both are predicting over 6 inches of snow.

Even if The Town of Escalante proper got cold rain many of the dirt roads off Hole In The Rock Road, where we wish to go and hike, will be impassable even with a high clearance vehicle, like Joanne's Sprinter. 

We decided to head south to Page where rain was a sure thing and we would be on passable roads.  It was also getting time for me to head east on my last month of travels to other places.

It's a 3 hour drive to Page, AZ and we got dinner in before a wind storm came up in front of the coming storm.  At times it was impossible to see and staying inside our vehicles was the way to survive it.

Joanne had flattened her outdoor table to keep it from the wind, only to have to chase it before blowing into Lake Powell. Unfortunately she had to go out and get pelted by the sand.

This wind and sand is a test to see what crevices you have for dust and dirt to get into your vehicle.

The car rocking wind and rain came overnight.  Clearer and cooler weather were what was offered the next day but it was snowing in southern UT still, where we had left.


Havasu Falls Hike - One Set Of Links

Blogspot, my blog software, uses my blog start date to chronicle my posts.  This means that my Havasu Falls Hike Posts may not fall into proper sequence and you may miss one or two.

Here are all the links in one place so if you want to look at a missed post you can find it.

How Did I Learn About Havasu Falls

Joining Forces To Get Permit To Havasu Falls

Long Awaited Hike To Havasu Falls

Tomorrow's Hike / Havasupai Campground Parking Lot

Havasupai Canyon Waterfalls 

Havasu Falls

Mooney Falls

Havasu Falls Camping

Hike Out Of Havasupai Canyon

Havasupai Hilltop


Lower Calf Creek Falls - Grand Staircase- Escalante NM

Joanne and I went to hike the slot canyons today, about half way down the agile In The Rock Road.  When we got there there was a steep rock face that you need to climb down after a 4' drop and it wasn't safe to take her dogs, so we opted to drive back to RT12 and head east a few miles to Calf Creek Falls where we knew we could hikevwith the dogs.

I'll start you off with the beautiful waterfalls that you are treated to after hiking 3.2 miles.

I was able to get this picture with no one in it even through it was well visited the day we went.

At 6.4 miles round trip and nearly 900 foot elevation it was a good hike with significant vertical gain.

Joanne is a bit more observant than me often pointing out things before I see them, or should I say if I see them.  Above she commented in the vertical stripes and how they look like a pattern you would see on a shirt.  Then I capture her suggestion to share on my blog.

As with all the hikes here in the Grand Staircase - Escalante,  there is more wonderful rock formations than I can put in my blog.  If you come here this hike is a good strenuous hike that is also kid friendly as well as dog friendly.  Both the dogs and the kids appreciated playing in the water.

This is one of the more popular hikes in the area and there is a park fee.  With my National Park Pass I do not have to pay.


Dance Hall Rock - Grand Staircase- Escalante NM

Can you imagine being part of the Morman "Hole In The Rock Expedition" stopping here to rest and then play music and dance in celebration? 

This natural amphitheater with flat dancing surface provided an entertainment location for the tired Mormon travelers that came to settle in Utah.

Most wagon trains had people that could play music.  The would entertain everyone at night.

Accounts relayed from the people that first came here that the sand in this area made travel difficult, requiring wagons to be pulled a 100 feet or so before getting bogged down.  It was necessary to go backwards and take another running start to make it another 100 ft.  They needed to do this through heavy sand areas like at Dance Hall Rock.

These markers with a picture of a covered wagon show the location of where the wagons traveled. 

The Dance Hall Rock is on the southern end of Hole in the rock Road that came across the Colorado River up into southern Utah.

Sandstone here has a number of smaller holes that have eroded over time.  It is one of the best locations in this area to take children as they can hide and climb for hours.

Dance Hall Rock is also one of the few stops that provides pit toilets on the very long Hole In The Rock Road.

Above and below is where water is carving a slot in the sandstone. 

Over thousands of years the slot gets deeper and wider forming the larger slot canyons to the north of Dance Hall Rock.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Days 84, 85, 86 3/27-29/17 - Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument

At over twice the size of Rhode Island and just under the size of Maryland the Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument, is truly not one thing.  GSENM is light purple in the map above. The dark purple is the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Utah is known for its 5 National Parks, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion, but Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument ranks right up with the National Parks for a place to enjoy in southern Utah.

For more information about GSENM see the following wiki link.

The following is copied from wiki:

"The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a U.S. National Monumentprotecting 1,880,461 acres (760,996 ha)[1] of land in southern Utah."

"There are three main regions: the Grand Staircase, the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Canyons of the Escalante - all of which are administered by the Bureau of Land Management as part of the National Landscape Conservation System. President Bill Clintondesignated the area as a national monument in 1996 using his authority under the Antiquities Act. Grand Staircase-Escalante encompasses the largest land area of all U.S. National Monuments."

Back to my comments:

I've been coming out to the great southwest for 4 years now and I've wanted to come to find out about GSENM and finally made it.  This was not a trip to see everything as that would take a month to do so.

This trip to GSENM was kind of a scouting mission for future visits, since there is so much to see.

From as far south as northern AZ and my visit to The Wave, to yesterday's hike to a beautiful waterfall in the northern part of the National Monument, there is so much to see.

The Wave is in the lower reaches of the GSENM, actually in Northern AZ, south of Kanab, UT.

Dance Hall Rock in the center of GSENM off Hole in the rock road south of the town of Escalante. 

Toadstools in southern GSENM between Page and Kanab.

Burr Trail Road to the northeast of GSENM, as in the picture below.

Burr is a tar road over to the eastern a GSENM border.

Devils Garden in the center of GSENM on Hole in the rock Road south of the town of Escalante.

To Lower Calf Creek Falls in the north of GSENM between the towns of Escalante and Boulder, UT.

 This is just a small sampling of what Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument has to offer.

It's on my plans to come back in future years to experience more natural wonders.

I will cover other aspects of visiting GSENM in other posts.  


Monday, March 27, 2017

Hiking "The Wave" - "The Second Wave"

About a half a mile away from The Wave is the second wave.  It is totally different than The Wave, as you can see in the picture above.

I find the contrast amazing within the raised lines of the sediment, and as it compares to The WAVE's smooth surface.

From this angle you can't tell much other than colored lines.

The technique I used to take the picture is to get down low and bring out the raised texture to give a 3 dimensional view.  This provides for a whole different perspective. 

Still the colors are beautiful at The Second Wave, but the textures of the lines is what makes The Second Wave unique. 

I have my shade hat in now at mid day to keep the strong sun off my head.

Rick, the other guy from MA who won the lottery for The Wave, just before me, took this picture.  Joanne and I met him up at The Wave and we hiked together to The Second Wave and back to the trailhead together.

He spent the winter skiiimg up at Jackson, WY and headed down in mid March to do some hiking in the area.  The day of the lottery he drove down from Zion NP to take a shot at the lottery.  He won on his first try.


Hiking "The Wave" Part 2

The following are some additional pictures of The Wave and some of the surrounding area between The Wave and The Second Wave.

Time of day with light angles changes the coloring and the shadowed areas.   

This group below won the lottery too as the group of 6.  They took some pictures of me standing up on the wave.

Joanne was taking some pictures of me and took some on an angle to make it look like I was trying to sit up from a laying position. 

Rick, who also won the lottery with me, took this picture in a section of the wave that was shaded so the color is a deeper red.

Above this picture gives some texture and various coloring of the sediment layers.

Above the lines on the bottom get a bit washed out under direct sun but the wall maintains the color.

Rick had the idea of using this rain pool on top near the wave for its reflection in the water.

Another view of the pond at a different angle. 

From the above picture you can see that some of the sandstone got twisted at one time many millions of years ago.

Another view up close.

Another section of sandstone mounds are adjacent to the edge of the canyon rim.

Since The Wave is on a high hill there is a canyon on the edge that causes the water from rain to roll off continuing the formation of the sandstone for future visitors.

The roundtrip hike is listed as 6.2 miles.  We hiked 7.4 miles by adding in The Second Wave.  We spent 6 hours for our hike.  2 hours to and from The Wave and 2 hours there.  The hike is moderate with a significant amount of hiking in soft sand that can drain your energy.

Hiking up the hill that The Wave sits on is a tough hike up in this soft sand.  For each step forward you slide back some only to do it all over again until you are at the top.

Bring a good amount of water.  I took just under 4 liters.  Also plan to snack or lunch there before hiking back.  Don't rush as your not coming back soon.  Yiu are actually able reapply in two weeks from the last time you won.

Good luck if you try to obtain a Wave pass at either the online or the in-person lottery.


Hiking The Toadstools

After winning The Wave lottery at the Kanab, UT BLM office that morning, I decided to head back to Page, AZ and go for a hike at the Toadstools.  

The Toadstools Trailhead is in the Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument, just off US89, so it is easy to access.

The hike is through a wash until the end where there is a short climb to see the toadstools. It is also not a strenuous hike.

This picture above is the first and most prominent toadstool you come to.

Make sure you climb up to see it at different angles of this tall toadstool.

You can see the rain clouds that were in the area this day.  Thunderstorms will arrive later after this hike.  

On this small plateau above the wash, there are other toadstools looking for your attention too.

When driving to this hiking location there are other toadstools you can view from US89, but there isn't any void places to pull off to look at them.

Not to be left out, is the shortest toadstool of them all.

If you look up high you get a glimpse of this toadstool looking out over the rest of them and the hikers that come to visit.

As you travel the west there are trailheads on the roadside that are often easy to access and may only take an hour of your time to see.  Don't pass them all by as they are here for your enjoyment and some will be gone over time.