TOURING AND EXPLORING

4 04 2010

First of all I would like to thank everyone for their wonderful comments and encouragement, please keep them coming, it helps us feel connected to our life at home. Second of all I would like to say how wonderful and infuriating technology can be, let me explain. Two nights ago we decided to stay in a hotel because we did not stop driving until well after dark and it was getting really cold and was it forecast to snow again. We also planned on catching up on all things electronic i.e. email, picture downloads, charging and posting on the blog. Well it wound up taking me over three hours to publish my post with constant internet problems and lost connections in the middle of every up load I tried, well needless to say I was livid and I wound up having to get up at 6AM to get it finished. Well here I am two days later sitting outside under the stars at a campground, which may possibly be closed,  poaching WIFI from a high-end lodge nearby on the shores of Lake Powell. In a nut shell I am not sure if I love technology or hate it but that discussion is best left for another time and place.  

So to catch up we have had a wonderful couple of days out in the desert. We continued our tour of National Parks by visiting Capitol Reef on Thursday. We had taken a road trip back in 2002 and visited many of the parks of the West but never made it to either Bryce or Capitol Reef so it was really great to get back and see some of these wonderful places. Capitol Reef is the counties least visited national park likely due to its remote location and minimal development. The whole park is based around what is called the Water Pocket Fold a 100+ mile long stretch of up lifted strata that has been eroding away. We first took the scenic road to the end and then continued on down one of the most amazing stretches of road I have ever driven on, through the Capital Gorge. I said through because yes you are driving right down the center of a canyon with walls of rock rising 500′ or more above you. The wild thing is that most of the time you are driving in a wash or dry creek bed and if there where a sudden rain storm the entire canyon could become a roaring torrent called a flash flood likely washing most of what is in its path.   

The Road Through Capitol Gorge

 

We also took several moderate hikes in the park including a trail that continued down the Capitol Gorge to see some water holes used by the early pioneers  that passed through this very spot as evidenced by what was called a register, a stretch of wall where travellers had carved names and dates of passage into the rock.  

Water Storage Or Tank

 

The Register

 

One of the really interesting things about the register a was the height of the markings on the wall. Most of them dating back to the 1880’s-1900’s where a good 20′ above the canyon floor. This was a good indication of how much of the canyon bottom has eroded away in the past 100 years or so, which pales in comparison to what has been done over the millions of years since the layers of rock had first been exposed. It is really hard to visit this portion of the country and not take an interest in geology, it is almost as if you are taking a walk through a real world text-book. I feel like I know so littleabout geology but we are trying to learn more as we go and it really helps to be able look right at such premier geological examples as we learn. One thing that is almost beyond comprehension at first is that just water and wind have created almost every one of these diverse and wild places we have visited. At initial glance one is led to believe that catastrophic events must have unfolded to create such a twisted and tormented landscape but in reality it was really the relatively benign forces of the wind, water and a whole lot of time. By this I mean that even a trickle of water left to run over a soft rock like sand stone for millions of years will eventually carve a canyon several hundred  feet deep. The same goes for wind. Combine these two forces together with a bit of seismic activity and you wind up with some amazing landscapes. Well there I go on another tangent again and the wind is starting to pick up and the temp is starting to drop so I will get back to recounting where we have been. After Capitol Gorge we hiked another canyon called The Grand Wash and more specifically an area called the Narrows, an area where the 500 foot walls of the canyon narrow down to 30 feet wide or so.  

The Narrows

 

 Following this hike we found another trail that took us up to the cliff tops and to a spectacular arch named Cassidy Arch. An arch is a bridge of rock that has been hollowed out underneath by water but because this particular example had been eroded away solely by wind it should more accurately be named a bridge but the old name stuck so that is what we will call it.  

A Big Horn Sheep On The Way To Cassidy Arch

 

Justyna On Top Of The Arch Named After Butch Cassidy

 

This One Is For You Mom

 

Justyna Taking In The Scenery

 

From Capitol Reef we started driving south not sure of our destination. After a quick stop in Hanksville to have a Hank Burger we found out that a ferry across Lake Powell was closed. After learning this we knew we where going to have to drive around the east end of the lake and we chose to make up some of the time by driving into the night. We drove for 3 1/2 hours passing through some of the least populated areas of the country out side of Alaska. We passed by the end of Glen Canyon and I was very excited to be in Edward Abby Country. After reading Desert Solitaire and The Monkey Wrench Gang upon our return from our road trip in 2002 I have long since dreamed of coming back out west to see the land he wrote so passionately about. We eventually wound up at a camp ground at the Natural Bridges National Monument. This is just about the darkest place you can find in the lower 48 and with a clear cold night like we had the sky was breathtaking. It was as if the longer you watched the more stars you can see. I have a deep interest in Astro Physics and Cosmology so to be able to lay there literally staring off into space was a real thrill until I couldn’t feel my fingers any more at least. It got quite cold over night and I know a couple of  towns had set records for low temperatures in the low teens over night.   

We woke in the morning and made our breakfast before touring the park visiting the bridges the park was named for, as well as exploring some side canyons and discovering a neat little water fall.  

Horse Collar Bend

 

Kachina Arch

 

Exploring A Side Canyon

 

A Natural Amphitheatre

 

The Waterfall We Found

 

From Natural Bridges we headed south eventually coming across what can only be called an astounding feat of engineering called the Moki Dugway. This is where the road descends off of the Colorado Plateau into monument Valley. The road is gravel and is cut right into the cliff side it also has no guard rails and drops over 2000′ in 3 miles with close to 20 switchbacks  ending essentially directly below itself. From the Dugway we took a side trip through the Valley Of  The Gods which is a smaller version of Monument Valley. With many spires and buttes of red rock all with creative names like The Setting Hen, The Battle Ship and The Seven Sailors.  

Driving Down The Moki Dugout

 

From The Top Of The Moki Dugout

 

The Mexican Hat

 

 Even though it frustrates Justyna I was excited because I got to take the car off-road. To me it really doesn’t feel like a proper trip until I have taken my rental through a couple of water crossings.  

Yeah A Water Crossing!!!

 

From there we continued in to the Navajo Nation Lands to visit the Monument Valley Tribal Park. This park was like the Valley Of The Gods but on a whole different scale. There is a 17 mile scenic drive taking you by some amazing scenery some of which you may be familiar with, Window 7 has been released with a picture of the Left Mitten as one of its default wallpapers. Unfortunately they do not really allow hiking in the park so we just made the loop and took a lot  of pictures .  

The Road To Monument Valley

 

The Mittens

 

Justyna Feeling The Spirit In Monument Valley

 

Another Monument

 

And Yet Another Monument

 

We then headed West again to points unknown. We continued until well past dark finally finding this campground I am posting from in Glen Canyon on the shores of Lake Powell only a mile or so from the Dam, Abbey was so passionately against.  

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit”  

Edward Abbey 

PS I had to finish this in the morning. Everyone have a happy Easter.

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7 responses

6 04 2010
adam

Hello All,

And Super Happy B-Day to you Justina!!!!!!

Sorry you both missed out on Easter goody foods and talking at my place. Wish we could of had an Easter egg hunt in some canyon some place with you.

Hope all is well.
And if you are west of Utah it looks like pretty good weather for the day.

Best,
Adam

5 04 2010
aunt gail

Happy Easter (one day late). Enjoying the adventure with you.

Hope I have the correct date to wish Justyna a Very Happy Birthday today !!!!

4 04 2010
Jodi

Edward Abbey country, sooo gor-ge-ous! Thanks for hanging in there and getting your posts out to us, Andrew. I know it’s a labor of love…

That Register rock was really neat. Your night at the campground at Natural Bridges National Monument sounded amazing–all those stars. Ahhh… And I love the picture of Justyna striking a yoga pose.

Happy Easter to you, too!

4 04 2010
Craig and Karen Richey

What beautiful photos. How much better it must be in real life! Happy Easter.

4 04 2010
Cheryl

Hello, wow, just found this and I love it! I recently drove to Colorado and didnt see so much amazing scenery! I love your pictures!
I miss Justyna at work! Have a safe, fun trip! What a great adventure!
Cheryl (from the Emerson, Coffee Bar)

4 04 2010
Jim & Steph

Happy Easter Guys!!! The pictures are amazing!!!!

4 04 2010
marta

Happy Easter !

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