We rolled out of bed about 8:30, had pancakes in the cabin, and got on the road about 10am. The plan was to drive back to Escalante, fill up on water and gas, and drive 36 miles down Hole-in-the-Rock Road to Dance Hall Rock where the Pioneers held a dance. Along the way we'd stop at several different places to hike and explore. Our first stop, though was at the Visitor's Center in Escalante. Dax was super-excited that he'd get to be a quadruple Junior Ranger. The real ranger told us that the road was wash-boardy, but makeable, and the hike was not too bad, so we started on our way.
As it turned out, the ranger may have used a bit of understatement. The first five miles of the road almost shook the fillings out of my teeth. It was like driving over, well, a washboard. The road did get better and we were enjoying the adventure. In fact, the first stop was great. We drove out to a little picnic area called Devil's Garden. It was very much like Goblin Valley, and the boys loved it. We climbed, explored, and played hide-and-seek for over an hour. We took tons of pictures of hoodoos, arches, and the boys hiding in crevices and peeking out of cracks and windows. We also spotted a ton of lizards, including a checkered whiptail (at least that's what Mark told me it was).
|We saw hundreds of lizards this trip.|
|The boys like to take shady pictures, which don't always turn out.|
|Their all-time favorite vacation is Goblin Valley, so Devil's Garden didn't disappoint.|
|We climbed hoodoos and chased around for an hour.|
|This little window had a 10 foot drop in front of it.|
|Seth likes to jump out and yell "Boo!" when he is hiding.|
|Dax is a bit of an acrobat.|
|It wasn't too hot on this day, which was nice. The slickrock could've baked us!|
|We climbed up on the shelf to find the dinosaur tracks.|
We didn't realize how big of an adventure these two slot canyons would be. At the trailhead, there were at least 25 other vehicles, and we passed a whole slew of people coming up. The trail dropped straight down into the bottom of a small canyon, and then we followed a dry wash to the entrance for Peek-a-Boo slot canyon. We were surprised that it was a sheer climb of about ten feet into the canyon. Seth was ready to be done before we even got started. But Dad hauled everybody up and we were on our way. In the first 40 yards, Dad had hoisted, lowered, and swung everyone, including Mom over 4 different obstacles. At one point, he was straddling a large pool of brackish water lifting people through a tiny crack in the wall. We were having a great time. The slot canyons are as hard to describe in words as they are to take pictures of. You really do have to see these canyons to believe them.
|That's not a slot canyon, Dax!|
|See the arches in the background? It is very beautiful.|
|Other hikers were pretty impressed that Dad got us through this obstacle without getting anyone wet.|
|This is one of the nicer pictures before the canyon narrowed down and lighting was a problem.|
|Peek-a-Boo Canyon is considerably wider than Spooky.|
|Mark and Dax did okay, but we needed Crisco to get Dad through a few of the tightest spots.|
|We took a rest in the limited shade at the top of Peek-a-Boo.|
|Then we descended down into Spooky.|
|If you are at all claustrophobic, this hike is a bad idea.|
|At about this point, Dad was glad he took that dime out of his back pocket and left it in the van.|
|The boys were real troopers on this crazy hike.|
|Collared lizards are large, beautiful, and plentiful in southern Utah.|
We followed him for about half a mile. Mom and Dad had long since stopped drinking, and the boys finished their water with a half mile to go. Mom's pocket odometer said we'd come 4 miles when we reached the bottom of the climb out of the canyon. That may not seem like much, and it may not seem desperate, but Seth is 3, it was probably near 100 degrees, and those 4 miles we'd come had been very strenuous: squeezing, lifting, jumping, and climbing. But our boys pulled together and made that last climb. Dax got carried about 50 yards, and Seth less than a half mile. Other than that, they did it all themselves, and it was no small accomplishment. (Mosiah 24:15)
We were pretty excited to get back to the van, and we dumped a quart of sand out of our shoes and then drank a few quarts of water each. We had no intention of going on to Dance Hall Rock, so we made another short drive to the Batty Caves. We had fun exploring the caves, but the boys were past their limits, and we still had 28 miles of brain jiggling roads before we reached Escalante.
|This is the first of 3 manmade caves. There are still artifacts inside.|
|The last cave really didn't require headlamps, but, you know...|