Monday, February 19, 2007

Back all in one piece...

Unfortunately, this is not actually the picture of the slot canyons I hiked down this weekend; Tyson thought it better to take the camera to Texas for thirteenth-birthday-party photos rather than leaving it for me. I did buy myself some drafting pencils and a set of india ink pens in various sizes for practicing some drawing; maybe I will scan in one of them.

But anyway, I left Saturday morning for Utah, stopping south of Cannonville (about 30 minutes east of Zion NP), and drove down this little red dirt road to Willis canyon, where the runoff was covered in sheets of crumbly ice and packed snow. I hiked in maybe half a mile, just to a pouroff where I didn't feel like going around. Then I tried to find Cottonwood Canyon, south of Kodachrome Basin SP, but the road got really rocky and I didn't want to get into trouble on my first day out. (Plus I think I may have taken a wrong turn somewhere.)

So I made it back into Escalante, which is just about one of my favorite towns anywhere, about an hour before sundown. I had planned on sleeping on a foam mattress in the back of the car, but when I went back outside after eating dinner, it was freezing!

On Sunday, I had planned to hike Fiftymile Creek, a 5-mile hike from Hole-in-the-Rock Road down another slot canyon all the way to Lake Powell, but then I learned that the reason it was called"Fiftymile Creek" was because it was 50 miles from pavement on what would become a pretty gnarly, rocky road that far from civilization. It was a disappointment, too, because my hiking trails book promised beaver ponds and quicksand which sounded like a combination for a rather interesting afternoon.

I decided instead to head to the interestingly and inexplicably named Lick Wash, about 10 miles farther down the dirt road from yesterday (the less rocky one). Rather than rocky, it was muddy in places from snowmelt, but me and the car made it through allright. As I was hiking out of the canyon, I stopped to talk to a couple who had come in from the south, overshot the turnoff to the trailhead, and continued a few miles up the road I had come in on. "The road seemed really bad," the woman said. "I don't think we'll go that way when we leave." I almost laughed out loud when I got back to the trailhead and saw a big 4x4 pickup next to my little Matrix. (That's not my actual car in the photo, mind you. Mine is, for reasons that should now be obvious, dirtier. It's also missing a big chunk of front spoiler, thanks to Tyson, and probably to our off-road driving habits.)
The dirt road popped me out WAY south, on the 89 in between Big Water and Kanab. I passed a road signed for Toroweap, which, after talking to the nice Paiute ranger at Pipe Spring, I decided to forego because
  1. Tyson would be jealous.
  2. The road was 36 miles long.
  3. I couldn't get in and out before dark.
  4. It was supposed to rain overnight.
  5. The last three miles were rock that would smash up the underneath of my car.
  6. I don't technically know how to use my jack to change a tire.
  7. I figured I had pushed my luck pretty far already.
To make a long story short, I drove and drove and drove until I was back in Nevada near the turnoff for Beaver Dam State Park in a little town called Caliente, where I stayed for the night, then went to Beaver Dam looking for fish, or for the lake that used to be there before they blew the dam a couple of years ago. I got snowed on in the pass between Caliente and Alamo, quite a surprise considering I didn't even remember that there were mountains between Caliente and Alamo, a distance of about an inch on my map. (Unlike almost anywhere else I know, Nevada has mountain ranges that may only be 50 miles long, 20 miles wide, and 2000 feet higher than the valleys in between. People from real mountains, like the Rockies or the Sierras, might feel more comfortable imagining air quotes around some of Nevada's "mountain ranges.")
But I am back, and getting ready to be back in class tomorrow. Hope everyone had a pleasant long weekend.


Deidre said...

Have you forgotten that my life is one sprawling, loooooong weekend for the moment? Jealous?

Sounds like you had a lot of fun. Wish I could have been there. Hiking through unplowed parking lots is fun, too, I guess.

Erin said...

Yeah, I was just thinking that it's probably lots easier taking a vow of silence when you aren't, you know, employed.