Posts Tagged ‘Natural Bridges National Monument’

On Tuesday, we drove up Moki Dugway. It rises from Valley of the Gods up to Cedar Mesa, somewhere from 600 to1,000 feet. The views are dramatic, but we made no images as I was lead car in the Rav with Dave following in the Lazy Daze. The gravel road is actually pretty wide except for the hairpin blind curves where you can’t see what’s coming. Nobody wants to have to back up on Moki.

We got to Cedar Mesa and drove across it for 20 miles to Kane Gulch Ranger Station. They gave us information about some day hikes that the Rav and us can handle and told us we could dry camp at “the gravel pit”. The gravel pit turned out to be right at the intersection of Highways 261 and 95 and right next to a cowcatcher that is noisy when vehicles go over it. Depressing, but convenient to our hikes.

After a little confusion, we found the road to South Mule Canyon and started a nice hike to find the “House on Fire”, an Anasazi ruin that looks like it’s blazing when the low sun reflects off the rock overhang. We met Randy and Crystal there, who were very into photography and Crystal lent me her wide angle lens. That made a dramatic difference from my lens. We kept the hike down to 3-4 miles as we were going on a long one the next day.

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Randy and Crystal also told us about the dispersed camping on a side road off Highway 275, the road going into Natural Bridges National Monument. We checked it out with the Rav and quickly decided to move. There are several primitive campsites carved into trees and we squeezed into one about 300 yards from Highway 275. Much nicer! We celebrated with Cuba Libres and potato chips.

Wednesday was the day of our long hike -10 miles. It’s been a long, long time since we’ve done one that long (intentionally). The trail goes 4 miles through Kane Gulch before it reaches the Grand Gulch Wilderness Study Area. Then there are a couple of ruins and an arch in the next mile. We took 3 quarts of water, more than we usually take. It was mostly gone by the time we returned, eight hours later.

We thought the first 4 miles would be boring, trekking across sagebrush mesa country but after half a mile or so, we found a narrow tunnel, one side black rock and the other with incredible patterns on it. After that, great walls with overhangs and bare aspens. We made a turn and began a gradual descent into Kane Gulch. A little bit of flowing water added interest to the scene as we climbed up and over the canyon sides or crossed the wet or dry creek. It was quite warm in the sun but wonderfully cool in the shade.

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We met a nice couple from Ojai, California and they proved helpful to us, walking much faster than we did and finding the ruins that are tucked away in side canyons. Junction Ruins were okay but not anything spectacular.

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We tried to find the next ruin, Turkey Pen, and went up a side canyon that wasn’t it. I was tired and preparing for a 4.5-mile return hike, so I chose to sit in a shady cool spot while Dave looked for Turkey Pen. It turned out to be another 5 minutes up the trail, but I got a nice half hour rest while Dave got some great pix of Turkey Pen. Check out his blog for pictures of…yes, a turkey pen and some great unreconstructed ruins.

Then it was trudge, trudge, trudge. After 4.5 miles, another 4.5 miles is a long way. And it was hot. But we had a lot of water and took many sit-downs in the shade. We also had Ibuprofen that helped our aching backs. We finally got back to the car at 5 p.m. and drove the 2.5 miles back to camp.

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We turned on the hot water heater – showers! While waiting, it was beautiful under the trees, gazing at the Abajo Mountains, sipping on the last of the ice cold, gasp-inducing Lemoncello. Once again, thank you Mary and Rick and Jeff and Betty. We had a group of adolescent girls camping next to us but they were fine, practicing a camp song and chatting.

Thursday was a down day, enabling us to catch up on the blogs and our books. Phone reception out here isn’t great so Facebook isn’t a temptation. Dave had asked our friend, Rick, to check our mail, looking for a check from Cordelia RV that would pay for all the expenses incurred from tire damage. He reported that he found no check in the mail. But he did find jury notices for both us. Rats!! I hope we haven’t already passed the report date. It’s pretty easy to change the report date to a time when we are back home but we haven’t had to do it if the report date has already passed. Something else to do when we get home.

We did take a drive into Natural Bridges National Monument since we were camped 4 miles away. It was a hot afternoon and it wore us out just walking to the overlooks. (Hey, some of them are long!) The cloudy weather set off some of the bridges nicely. We reminisced (argued) about which trails we took on past visits. We drank our coffee and ate our cookies. That was enough activity for that day.

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On May Day, we went to town, Blanding, Utah that is. We got an okay full hookup for $38 per night. Our scenic back window looked out on a berm protecting us from US-191. Actually, the noise wasn’t that bad, but it certainly wasn’t an idyllic site. We decided to stay 2 nights because we were going to the Needles section of Canyonlands and Saturday wasn’t the best day to go looking for a campsite there.

On Saturday, I called Jan Curley and arranged to meet at Lockhart Basin, a dispersed campsite outside of Needles. Janet lives in La Sal, a small town on the south flank of the La Sal Mountains. We wanted to do something but still felt lethargic – the aftermath of our hiking extravaganzas. We lumped ourselves into the Rav to explore some areas in the Abajo Mountains we hadn’t had time for on earlier trips. It was a nice day, warm enough for air conditioning in the car. Butler Wash Ruins had a pretty short trip to the overlook but it was uphill on glaring white rock most of the way up and it was hot. There were a couple of benches in the shade on the trail that we gratefully utilized.

Butler Wash Ruins is a large installation with structures in three different alcoves that I could discern. Unfortunately, we were about half a mile away at the overlook, but that’s what long lenses are for. After satisfying ourselves, we traipsed back to our blessed, air-conditioned vehicle and bagged it for the day.

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