A Jewel -- In The Middle Of F*&#ing Nowhere

Trip Start Mar 02, 2011
Trip End Jan 25, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Utah
Sunday, June 19, 2011

Driving on from the morning hike at Mary Jane Canyon, we headed toward a very small national park called Capital Reef.  The road to get there should not exist, as it is in the middle of no-where.  The few teeny-tiny communities in this area have all been deserted.  But the vista before us was gorgeous.  We arrived at Capitol Reef just in time to snag one of the last campsites and met two lovely women, Mary Lou and Karen, who were in a supped up version of the Mark Ark. Truth be told, I like our version much better, although I did envy their refrigerator.  We've had a really, really difficult time keeping food cold in our small cooler.

As the sun set, we headed over to the evening program with Ranger Andrea.  Many parks offer these family friendly programs during the busy summer months.  Tonight's program:  Bats.  It sounded interesting ... and wasn't.  Poor Ranger Andrea was just a terrible public speaker and poor lecturer.  Mark was certain she was filling in for someone else and just not familiar with the program format.  I think she was just really bad at giving these programs.  There was one great moment in the program.  Just as she was wrapping up the talk (not a moment too soon), a bat swooped out of the sky and flew in front of the giant projector screen.  The entire audience, at least those remaining, gasped and applauded.  The ranger was obviously proud.

Most parks in this area have strict lease laws and limit dogs to only campgrounds and major roads within the park.  No trails.  This has proven more than a little frustrating for our four legged friends, Quincy and Samson.  Today, Mark came up with a great plan to help us both get some exercise and give the doggies some time to run around.  He figured out that you could link sections of 3 hikes into a 5.5 mile traverse from the campground to the Cassidy Arch Trailhead.  He started out running from the campground while I drove the van and the dogs to the trailhead.  There, I was all alone and able to let the puppies run off lease.  After 20 minutes, I loaded the pups into the Ark and started up the trail with water.  Shortly thereafter, I met up with Mark as he was running down the canyon side.  We swapped the water and the van key, and I continued up over the ridge and into a deep canyon.  I'm so glad Mark was the one who ran up this side of the canyon wall, although I still had to work my way out the other side.  The scenery was spectacular, as it has been throughout this trip.  It did take me much longer than I would care to admit to finish the traverse, but it was well worth it.

After the hand off trek through the canyons, we headed out of Capital Reef toward the Lower Calf Creek Campground and recreation area.  There was a trail to a 128-ft waterfall from this spot.  Unfortunately, Quincy and I didn't start the hike until mid-afternoon, and it was scorching hot.  The trail started out on sand that must have been really uncomfortable on Quincy's paws, as she laid down in every small spot of shade we came across.  I had to urge her along, which was getting more and more difficult.  When we neared a creek, I let her jump around in it for a bit.  But, once we headed back to the trail, she defiantly laid down and refused to budge.  That is, until I relented and headed back toward the van.  Then, she was dragging me behind her -- regardless of the hot sand under her paws.  Funny dog.  Mark and Samson met us back at the van after undertaking an epic journey themselves.

Since the campground here was full, we drove on to a Forest Road, called Spencer Flats in the hopes of finding a good place to camp for the night.  Did we ever.  Check out the video of our view from the edge of our campsite and the top of the canyon wall.  It was AH-mazing.  The drive out to the site was a wee-bit sketchy, but we made it in and out just fine.  All worth it.

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