Saturday, May 6, 2017

Slot Canyons in Southern Utah

Utah is one of our favorite states for outdoor recreation and natural beauty. After 10 days of incredible mountain biking in Moab (which deserves all the hype it gets), we headed to the canyons of Utah in and around Capitol Reef National Park and Escalante National Monument. If you are curious, here is a link to somewhat explain the differences between a National Park and a National Monument.

Morning coffee with this view at San Rafael Swell

The geology of the area lends itself to numerous canyons where some of them are so narrow, they are called "slots". Since we were visiting in the spring, there was still water left in most of the canyons.

The water rarely sees the sun, and is usually so cold, that it hurts to walk through. We went through great pains to avoid getting in the water.

Some of the canyons required us to wade in the water. I'm not embarrassed to admit that Scott carried me on his back for many of the swims because the water was so cold. Also, there were a few instances where Scott waded, but I bridged across, using every ounce of strength, flexibility, and determination to keep from falling into the cold, murky water.

Turning around almost immediately due to extreme cold.
Next time we visit "Tunnel Slot" we will have our wetsuits and booties.

Shrinkage? Check.

Enduring the cold water for the photo op

Exhausting bridge section - I made it! 

This area is such a wonderland for the kid at heart. We were enjoying the area during spring break which meant that we saw (and heard) many kids exploring, just like we were. Occasionally, instead of cursing the fact that there were so many school-aged kids everywhere, we talked about how it was a perfect and amazing place for them.

Lower Calf Creek Falls

Moqui Marbles! These black, iron oxide balls filled with hardened sandstone absolutely fascinated me (picture below). I couldn't stop picking them up. I wanted to collect them (big no-no) and do something with them (but what!!?). The details of their existence is still unsettled.

We were lucky to arrive at the Golden Cathedral (pictured below) in Grand Escalante National Monument just as a group was rappelling through. They had started their hike from above, and the final descent was through one of the 2 holes. All three of the guys wore 7 mm wetsuits and were still shivering. Just to put this in perspective, my thickest wetsuit is 5 mm and it is THICK as far as wetsuits go (if you plan on walking in it).

One day, we got really off the beaten track by simply following a topographical map to a formation called the "Cosmic Ashtray". The picture (below) doesn't do it justice. In the middle of undulating sandstone hills, is this hidden crater containing fine, orange sand and a cinder cone. It felt so out of place, totally random, and eerie.

That is sand, not murky water

Our time in the area inspired us to buy some canyoneering and rock climbing gear so that when we return, we can explore even more. Next blog post...

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