Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Escalante, Utah and Capitol Reef National Park - Hiking

I spent Labor Day weekend in familiar territory exploring some new places that I haven't seen before.  Without any real plan for Labor Day, I noticed that my favorite camp site at Singletree on Boulder Mountain was available for a couple of nights and made a reservation.  Shawn and Christopher decided to join for a couple days of camping and hiking and Roger and I met them at Singletree on Friday night after work.  Shaw had a fantastic fire going by the time we arrived and we enjoyed some good beer and conversation before heading off to bed.

Roger setting up his tent at Singletree

It was a bit rainy on Saturday morning, but we enjoyed a nice breakfast and spent some time setting up Roger's new canopy shelter.  This proved to be a great purchase as the rain became more prevalent throughout the weekend.

 Roger's new canopy shelter

Christopher and Shawn

Shawn and Christopher making breakfast

I have hiked to Upper Calf Creek Falls several times, but I have avoided Lower Calf Creek Falls as it tends to be more popular with a lot more hikers.  We decided that this would be a good day hike for everybody and drove for an hour over Boulder Mountain and through the town of Boulder before reaching Calf Creek Falls Recreation Area.  The trail was busy, but not annoyingly so, and the reward was a spectacular waterfall with beautiful canyon scenery.  Shawn and I could not resist the urge to swim in the waterfall pool, and eventually the sun came out to make for a really pleasant visit to the falls.

 Lower Calf Creek Falls

Swimming in Lower Calf Creek Falls

With Roger at Lower Calf Creek Falls

It was still early in the afternoon by the time we completed the Lower Calf Creek Falls hike so we decided to hike for a few miles along the Escalante River from the Highway 12 bridge trail head.  There is a large natural bridge a couple of miles from the trail head that I have passed backpacking, but this was the first time I've seen the bridge up close.  Roger and I spent quite of bit of time relaxing and enjoy the views under bridge before heading back to Singletree.

 Shawn and Roger cross the Escalante River

 Natural bridge along the Escalante River

Roger at the natural bridge

Roger crossing the Escalante River

Rain began to fall as we settled in to camp for the evening and became heavier throughout the evening.  That spoiled plans of cooking dinner over a campfire, but we enjoyed sitting under the canopy shelter and watching the rain as we ate dinner and had a few beers.  Eventually, the rain tapered off later that night.

Roger under his new canopy shelter

After a quick campsite change on Sunday morning (our original site had been reserved by someone else for the night), the rain began to fall again.  We packed up some hiking gear and headed down to Capitol Reef with hopes of doing a good day hike.  The rain stopped as we entered the park, but my plan of hiking the Golden Throne trail changed when we found out that the access road was closed due to a flash flood.  My backup plan of hiking the Rim Overlook trail and Navajo Knobs wasn't possible due to a rock slide and trail closure near Hickman Bridge.  Instead, we walked across the road and began to hike the Cohab Canyon Trail, followed by the Frying Pan trail, with a destination of Cassidy Arch.  The weather held out for most of the hike and the views were spectacular.

Shawn on the Frying Pan trail

Christopher and Shawn near Cassidy Arch

Roger at Cassidy Arch

View from the Frying Pan Trail

Still dry at the end of the hike

With perfect timing, the rain began to fall as we finished our hike to Cassidy Arch.  Shawn and Christopher decided they didn't want to spend another rainy night at camp so they headed back to Salt Lake.  Roger and I drove back to Singletree after spending some time in the historical Fruita area of Capitol Reef.  We were greeted by clearing skies just in time to make dinner and a campfire.

Capitol Reef National Park

Pears in Fruita

Clearing skies on Boulder Mountain

Finally, a camp fire

Sunrise was beautiful on Monday morning and Roger and I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before breaking camp.  We decided to drive the 45 mile Hell's Backbone Road between Boulder and Escalante before heading back to Salt Lake.  Some of the views along the road were spectacular and we made a quick stop at Posey Lake to find a nice campground that would be nice to use in the hot summer months. We drove back to Salt Lake that night, happy that we were able to do some great hikes despite the rain.

 Henry Mountains at sunrise

 Henry Mountains at sunrise

Roger loves breakfast time

Hell's Backbone Road

Posey Lake