Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Bryce Day 3

So, we almost died in the middle of the desert today, but not quite. After our adventure in Escalante yesterday getting lost at Cedar Arch, you'd think we might have gotten smarter, but I guess those things don't happen over night!

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.
Our next stop was to look at a huge dinosaur trackway. This was much less impressive. The dinosaur footprints were nearly impossible to find unless you were a professional paleontologist. We found one really nice one and a whole lot of impressions that might have been where a dinosaur stepped. Still, we had plenty of energy for our next stop.
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 drove out to mile marker 26 to the trailhead for two slot canyons: Peek-a-Boo and Spooky. This side road was a whole new adventure! We could have parked a little over a half mile away, but that would have added over a mile to our 3.7 mile trip, and we weren't sure that was a great idea. So we drove along the deeply rutted road while the boys sang, "We all live in a tippy submarine!" and Dad tried not to leave the oilpan lying in the middle of the road. Luckily, it wasn't far, and at the end Mom made sandwiches for lunch, even though it was after 1 o'clock.

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.
Peek-a-Boo turned out to be really long, and as we neared the top, Dad was getting worried, because there would be literally no turning back through some of those obstacles. We finally climbed out of the canyon and started across the top of the butte toward Spooky Canyon. This slot was unbelievably narrow. We had to take off the backpack and at one point Seth even cried, "It's too skinny! It's too skinny!" Again, it's indescribable, but there were places that you were wedged in the rock, shimmying along through a gap 8 inches wide. Mom even ripped the pocket off her pants in a narrow crevice. The biggest drop was a ten foot tube with a rim halfway down. This required Dad going down halfway, Mom dropping the kids in to him, then passing him to the bottom, and then Dad dropping the kids to her. It was amazing, but very stressful and difficult. We were more than wondering what we'd gotten ourselves into!

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 were still okay as we exited Spooky Canyon, though our water was running low. The problem was, we turned the wrong direction. We hiked for about a quarter mile and the trail petered out. There were no cairns anywhere, and all those people that we'd been passing were gone. Mom bravely volunteered to climb to the top of the ridge. She found nothing. There was a dead end. Now Dad was more than a little scared, so we stopped and said a prayer asking for help. We stood up and far across the canyon we saw a man climbing up and out. We hurried toward him and got to where he'd started up just as he started back down. He said we couldn't get out that way, but he'd seen the trail farther around the wash. It was still a long hot mile up and out.

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...
It was after dinner time when we reached a little restaurant called Nemo's in Escalante. They had wonderful hamburgers, and the boys certainly deserved ice cream. Mom and Dad just wanted to forget how close they'd come to becoming a statistic somewhere in the middle of the desert! But every prayer tonight was full of thanks for our lives, and a great vacation!
We're alive!

1 comment:

  1. Still can't believe this story! Glad you made it out!


Total Pageviews