The Great Southwest Trip 2017


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Monday, September 25

We woke up to a beautiful day. Sure, it was cold in the morning, but it was sunny, and by 10 am it had gotten over 50 degrees, which is where I'm pretty much okay with the temperature...and it actually got up around 70 or so that day; with the wind gone, it was BEAUTIFUL, and we had a whole day to explore Capitol Reef.

On the left is our campsite; on the right is a picture of the turkeys that went walking and running through the campground after they were done in the orchard.
During breakfast, we talked about what we wanted to do. We both wanted to go to the geology talk at the Visitor's Center at 10; I was full of energy, so I walked over early; it's about a mile along the road, but it's really pretty, orchards and old buildings and rocks and such. These six pictures are from my walk to the Visitor's Center.
So I've said that Capitol Reef is a monocline...here's where we found out about what that means. The first picture has made-up park brochures from the different kinds of environments that were here over the millenia; first there was a desert, then a swamp, then a lake/seashore, then a dense jungle. This was over millions of years, mind you, not very fast at all. All of these different environments left layers of rock that were covered by the next environment that came along, until you had a whole lot of layers. The geologist was thrilled and did a fist-pump when she told us that someone had found two more layers here at Capitol Reef, which brought their total up to 19, which was more than any National Park except the Grand Canyon. She was a very enthusiastic geologist!

So then after these layers were created, much later, the rock was heated and folded; this is a monocline, which means it has two bends in it, making it like a road that goes level, then up a hill, then level again (a syncline is a V shape, an anticline is an upside-down V.) So the rock was layered, then folded, and then erosion started exposing the layers, and is continuing to this day. In different parts of the park you'll see different layers, but the geologist said the five most visible and easy to spot are the Navajo sandstone (white), Kayenta (red), Wingate (lighter red), Chinle (red shading to blueish greenish white) and Moenkopi (brownish). And she had a great acronym for remembering them: No-one Knows Why Cats Meow.

So from then on anytime we saw one we'd say, That's Navajo sandstone! It was great knowing a little bit about this awesome place.

The contour map of the Waterpocket Fold (the name of the monocline that makes up Capitol Reef) and the outside of the visitor's center, which is made up of local rock. Walking back to the campground with Kelly. A lovely lizard, a beautiful sunny day.

When we got back to the campground, we talked about what we each wanted to do. Kelly wanted to try some hikes near the campground, and I suggested she try the Cohab Canyon trail, which starts out steeply but is gorgeous. I wanted to hike to Hickman Arch, since it was near dusk and rainy the last time I was here and did that hike. So we split up, and agreed to meet back at 3 or so.

From the Hickman Bridge parking lot. And Boudika is waiting patiently! Trail sign. This part of the trail has signs that tell you not to stop to take pictures for the next 500 feet because a rock could fall on you and kill you. No joking. Obviously, I didn't see the sign til I was on my way back...luckily, no rocks fell.
It's a 2 mile round trip, and the first part is all rock staircases, which were actually kind of fun. There were some beautiful views down the canyon as well.
Here are the pictures of the arch itself; the trail splits, and makes a loop, so you actually walk under the arch, out the other side, then back to the trail you came in on. A very nice hike. The day was beautiful, and some nice Dutch people took my picture. You'll notice that I'm wearing a long-sleeved shirt over my tank top, but it's warm enough to at least leave it open. Lovely.
Heading back. A nice man who had had a hip replacement and stopped to rest took my picture. The trail, after all the stairsteps, goes down into a wash then climbs up out of it to go around the arch.
At the top between the stairs and the wash is a slanted meadow, and there is a side trail that takes you out to look at the canyons, which is the first picture. The second is the falling rock warning sign on the way back.
After I got back to the truck with no rocks falling on me, I went to a pullout/boardwalk where there are petroglyphs on the rock face in two or three places. It was about 2 pm, so not the best time for petroglyphs, but they looked pretty good.
We met back up at the campsite. Kelly had hiked the Cohab Canyon trail, and then had visited the museum, where they sold homemade loganberry pie. It was SO GOOD!

Then she rested her back, as well as giving an excellent example of a monocline.

Here are Kelly's pictures of the Cohab Canyon trail.
So after we had chilled a while (but not quite literally; it was still, if not warm, then not really cold) we decided to hike the Fremont River trail. This was the river that went by our campground, so the trailhead was literally sixty feet from where we were. I was all about hiking by a river and seeing birds and fish and insects and stuff, and the hike was about a mile and a quarter each way. Perfect!
More adorable deer, some pretty rabbitbrush, and we're at the trailhead!
The trail map, the irrigation system for the orchard and a view across the orchard, and a HUGE bunch of spiderwebs. Didn't see any spiders, though.
Western White Clematis seedpods So no, we weren't wandering along the edge of a river so much as in a corridor of trees and shrubs...this is the trail, with Kelly as far as one can see ahead... And once we got away from the river the trail went straight up the mountain.
Once we got above the trees, the view was pretty sweet. As was the little bird that flew down to say HI! The third picture is looking back the way we came. There's another trail along the river on the other side, but it goes for MILES. And a really nice tree.
A tiny, adorable lizard...and...is this the top? No, but it's a nice place to rest, with a beautiful view. Kelly decided that was far enough for her; the next part (we could see it from there) looked steep and awful. I decided to give it a try, and it wasn't as bad as it looked...it went up and over a ridge...
And on the other side, after you walk down the trail a bit to the overlook, gave really gorgeous views of the main road and valley of Capitol Reef. You can also really see the rock layers.
On the way back to where Kelly was waiting, I took a picture of her...what? you can't see her? on the right is a closeup.
You can see the ridges in the rock where there was a lake or seabed long ago. Kelly is on her way back to the campsite! And K took a picture of a lady painting the beautiful scenery.
Back in the campsite. Aaaah.

Kelly took this during the afternoon sometime. I think these are boxelder bugs, aka red shouldered bugs. The red ones are the nymphs, and the ones with black shoulders are grownups.

Well, we were tired but happy. It had been great staying in one place, drying out and having a lot of time to hike and relax. It was just as cold this night as last, but at least the wind wasn't blowing. We both went to the ranger program on slot canyons, then when we came back the guys in the next campsite had a fire and invited us to join them. Their names were Al (dad) and Keith (son) who had rented a Jucy rv and were doing the same tour we were but backwards. The fire and the company were nice, but we finally hit the sack, ready for civilization the next day...or at least Salt Lake City.