Hiking down canyons and trying to dodge the rain

Trip Start Jun 01, 2011
Trip End Jul 31, 2011

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Where I stayed
Fruita Campground
What I did
Capital Reef National Park

Flag of United States  , Utah
Saturday, July 9, 2011

Woke up around 8 – I seem to be sleeping more and more as the trip goes along – and turned on the gen to charge things up. Then I took a small little walk along the Freemont River trail to this old homesteader's house in the park called the Gifford House. It was built over 100 years ago and today half of it is a period museum while the other half is a small bakery with home baked pies and breads – yum! Since we were not eating out today I decided to get some breakfast from here. For Pooh I got her a cheese and spinach wheat bread. For me, I got a strawberry and rhubarb pie. I use to eat rhubarb pies when I was a kid since my grandpa would grow it in the garden. It must have been 30 years since I had one. It was so good. And I’m not really that big of a pie fan. While I was gone to the store, Pooh took Quique on a little walk down the river trail

I turned the gen off at 10 – that’s the rules – and we got ready for our first hike of the day. We drove a few miles up the Scenic Drive and hung a left on a gravel road called the Grand Wash Road. It went steadily downhill for about a mile and a half. Lots of twists and turns and a few bad spots where the truck was bouncing all over the place. At the end of the road was the Grand Wash Trail. It was not really a trail – you just follow the wash or wadi 2.5 miles to the highway and back. This is only one of five canyons cutting through Capitol Reef. And whoa, was it a canyon to walk through. On both sides of the dry steam bed was mostly 1,000 ft. high cliffs – not as high as the Grand Canyon or Zion, but more narrow. There were many twists and turns and at every one was a new massive rock that went straight up. The one thing you have to watch out for while walking in a dry stream bed are flash floods. Yes, it was overcast and the farther we got the darker the clouds became. Before the end of the trail there was some thunder also, but no lighting.

Even though the weather was looking ominous, we took our time walking down, taking pictures, checking out small caves and holes in the side of the rock, and faux rock climbing. We reached the end of the trail at highway 24 in about an hour and a half. Now the weather was looking real bad as if the heavens might open up on us. And we still have 2.5 miles to go back up the wash. Right away we got a little rain that turned into medium rain here and there. We walked with some big steps to get back a little faster than when we came. Pooh did not bring her rain jacket which is why I said it rained. It’s just like leaving your umbrella in the car. If you take it with you it won’t rain. I gave her my jacket since this type of rain is OK for me. I just hope the downpours stay away. To shorten the route I found trails on the floodplains besides the wash that made the path a little more straight. Back and forth the rain came and went, from light to medium, but never heavy. Before we knew it we were back at the truck in very good time – 45 min. Wow, we were slow going down. From here we took the truck back up the Grand Wash gravel road and headed back to the RV for the afternoon.

For lunch I made a dirty rice. Since I made it with ground beef I had to cook that outside on our little camping stove so the beef smells would not permeate the RV. I added the rest of our mushrooms and peppers (they barely had a day left in them) and some onions (we still have a ton of them left). I though the food was good and Pooh said it would have been great without the beef – then it would not be dirty rice. During the afternoon the same light rain, medium rain came and went. I did a little reading and then took another rare nap – rare at home but getting more frequent on this trip. I know I can’t do this back at work.

Woke up around 4 and we started to get ready for our next hike which was up Capitol Gorge. The drive took about as long as the trail. The rain was still touch and go but we decided to do it anyway since this was our last day here. To get there we took the Scenic Road all the way to the end of the paved section 10 slow miles away. The speed limit went from 15 mph (in the many construction zones along the way) all the way up to 25 mph. At the end of the paved section was the gravel Capitol Gorge road which went four miles down a wash. This gravel road was not too bad – just had to watch out for other cars or RVs coming the other way around curves. The trail was not very long – just 1 mile down to a place called the tanks. The weather was still touch and go but since this was a short trail we went for it. This trail had more people than the first one, but not rush hour crowded. Part of the trail had some petroglyphs that were in not too good of shape. Next, about halfway down, was a place called the Pioneer Register. Back in the early days about 100 years ago, the pioneers tried to build a road through here by moving giant boulders from the wash. To mark their accomplishment, they etched their names in the rock 20 to 30 feet above the road. Before the park service took over, other people did some etchings too. You could tell the difference between the old and new etchings in that the old etchings were nice and neat while the new ones were sloppy. At one mile the wash went on but this was the turnaround point for most people including us. This is where a geological process called the tanks were. Tanks were like small ponds in the rock caused by runoff. Since the bottom of these ponds were rock, water stayed awhile longer here than in the soil. The cool part about this was you could hear the bullfrogs going crazy right before you got here. There was a 0.2 mile trail up the side of the hill to get a better view of all the tanks as you could only see one from the trail. Since it was around 6 now it was time to get back. I could only have the gen on from 6 – 8 and now I’m in the middle of a trail far away. So we did another power walk back to the truck. Now we were the only ones on the trail left – which is what I like.

Back at the truck we drove the 4 miles out of the wash back to the slow scenic road and back to the RV in a little bit of rain. By now it was 7:15 and I only had 45 min. worth of gen time. I just needed it to get the fridge a little cooler and to charge up our electronics. Plus, it was a good time to take showers since the water pump took some electricity to run. At 8, I decided to take Quique for a walk along the Fremont River trail for a bit. Since no one else was on the trail I let her off the leash so she could run around and make-up stories. The setting was so nice on this walk – rain-swollen river on your right, orchard and then horse pasture on your left with the high red rock mountains just beyond that. The deer were here and there, eating the apricots off the ground. And Quique running all over the place. On the way back I decided to wander through the orchard. One small problem – they like to flood the orchard with water. I tried to tiptoe around the water but to no avail. My sandaled feet were going to get wet. Quique tried to do the same thing, but once her paws and legs were wet, she started to run all over the place. Now besides the trees, the grass was very tall so Quique would leap over this grass like a deer – sometimes landing right in the middle of the water. The wetter she got, the more playful she became. Now all through this there were several deer just watching to see what she would do. The deer in Fruita were almost tame to humans, but not to four legged wild dogs like Quique. As Quique was playing around, I picked some apricots off the ground and stuffed them in my shorts pocket. Sometimes I would lose her in the grass. Finally, she saw the deer and went on a tear. The deer jumped very high and fled the scene. Quique came back proud of her accomplishment. We finally made it back to the RV – my feet soaked and Quique totally soaked. I had to give her a bath to wash all the orchard mud off. Then I took the apricots out of my pocket but unfortunately some of them got squished in my pocket.

Pooh made a nice dinner of homemade fries and vegetable stir-fry. We gobbled this down in order to make it to the 9:00 ranger talk in the ampatheater which was just a 5 min. walk away. Quique went with us also like our little baby and held her in our lap the whole time. The ranger talked about all the native peoples that lived in this area. Since we have now been in the SW for almost a month and a half we knew almost all this info – but the ranger really concentrated on the Natives from this area which were a little different. Now I’m not that interested in Native American history as I am of Asian, Middle Eastern or African, but the ranger had that knack of making it interesting. What I’ve noticed about most National Park Rangers is that they make good teachers. Back at the RV we cleaned up from dinner and took our nightly nap.
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