Neither sun, nor rain, nor hail...

Trip Start May 09, 2009
Trip End May 29, 2009

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Where I stayed

Flag of United States  , Utah
Sunday, May 24, 2009

I glanced out the motel window after jumping out of bed to see sun breaking through the clouds. Perhaps it would be a sunny day after all. We showered, packed Charlie, and checked out. As we drove out of Escalante, we briefly detoured down Hole-in-the-Rock Road which had begun to dry. We proceeded about 3 miles, just to say we did, before hitting some steeper, muddier sections that I feared could lose the Focus.

We were welcomed back to the Kiva Koffeehouse again for breakfast. This time I had the oatmeal pancakes and Jane had the spring scramble.  The weather had turned so we sat out on the patio overlooking Escalante Canyon. A dozen buzzards circled ominously above.

After bidding adieu to Kiva, we proceeded back up and over the Hogsback. We were finally going to tackle the Upper Calf Creek Falls. The trail pushes through juniper out onto slickrock, quickly descending a few hundred feet. Our trail guide book noted this as the roughest part. They also noted we should be at the falls in about 30 minutes, but we've learned the authors are insane. I help Jane down, figuring we would shortly be on a bench above the canyon where the hiking would be easier. At some point during the hike we lost sight of the cairns, but we weren't the only hikers to do so since we were following a sure-footed couple scampering ahead of us. We were soon on a section of slickrock that Jane wasn't comfortable climbing. She decided to sit and relax while I clambered over the slickrock to the canyon falls. We could hear Calf Creek below. I ran ahead, blazing a trail, and quickly arrived at the lower section of the Upper Calf Creek Falls. The pool was overgrown with tamarisk which didn't afford great photo-ops. I snapped a few quick shots to show Jane and ran back to rejoin her. I heard her yell my name and realized she was now hiking on a slickrock bench above me. I again scrambled over the rock to rejoin her. She had seen other hikers coming this way and we realized she was on the correct trail for the upper viewpoint of the falls. We were soon at the upper section of the Upper Calf Creek Falls, a series of small falls that emptied into the main falls. The uppermost pool was deep and clear enough for swimming. After sitting for a few minutes we spied three young men nervously eying us as they sat by the pool's edge. We left them in peace to go for a dip.

As we left Escalante and Boulder behind, we also left the sunshine. The Henry Mountains to the northeast (with peaks over 11,000 ft) were shrouded in threatening storm clouds. Climbing up and over Boulder Mountain - about 9,600 feet at the road summit but the mountain climbs even higher - it first began to thunder, then rain, and finally hail and sleet. On the way down we pulled into the ranger station for a brief rest and had a lovely chat with Wayne and Wanette, camp hosts who blamed the unusual weather on us Seattleites.

Later, sitting in the Torrey Schoolhouse Bed & Breakfast, I am listening to thunder rolling off of Boulder Mountain to the south while a beautiful sunset shines through our windows to the west. A rainbow briefly appears as a shower passes through. Simultaneously there are occasional lightning strikes up on Boulder Mountain and the Aquarius Plateau. The recent rain has closed some roads and canyons in the Capital Reef National Park due to flooding. Tomorrow's plans are up in the air.
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