Posted by: athike2011 | July 22, 2011

Day 10–Capitol Reef

My phone started buzzing around 8 this morning, today was the first day I didn’t wake up from the sweltering heat. I got up reluctantly as it felt nice to not need to get out of the car as fast as possible. A granola breakfast for me, kibble for sierra, and a big bottle of powerade. I made my lunch, a turkey and cheddar sandwich with onion, sweet and spicy mustard and cucumbers, I know it sounds weird, but it’s delicious. I filled all my water containers and headed out for Capitol Reef.

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We got to the trailhead just around 9:30. I got all my gear in order, got Sierra’s cooling vest on, and headed out. The trail started steeply up towards chimney rock. After a mile or so of climbing it splits off. You can either take the chimney rock loop, or keep going towards spring canyon. We went for the canyon as it was a longer hike and sounded like it would be pretty cool.

As we reached the other end of the loop trail we ran into an older gentleman who was talking to himself quite loudly. I asked if he had gone down to the canyon, to which he replied, “yeah, I don’t know what the big deal is, I didn’t think it was that special.” I told him we were going to check it out none the less and do the other part of the loop trail on my way back. We headed down into the canyon, which really didn’t have much of a trail. For the most part we just followed the path of the water that continues to form the canyon every time it rains.

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There were a number of junctions along the trail, and I could tell at the beginning it would quickly become confusing when I turned around if I didn’t mark my path. At each junction I stacked a pile of rocks next to an arrow I carved in the dirt with my trekking pole pointing in the direction I needed to go. I we made our way deeper into the canyon I could hear the echo of every scrape of my poles. It wasn’t until I was caught off guard by my own sneeze that I felt the real audible power of the canyon. It was as if I was being watched by sand people from the cliffs and they all sneezed with me. I stopped and played with the echo for a short while until I noticed Sierra’s confusion turn to mild concern.

There were a few places with some of the most precariously positioned rocks I have ever seen. I tried to capture it in photographs, but it was quite difficult to show. One was about the size of a large monster truck, which was completely supported by a rock no larger than Sierra.

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After a while we turned around and headed back towards the other part of the loop trail, following my stone markers the whole way back. About half way I noticed that the moon could be seen perfectly just above the canyon wall. I took a sat and took a few pictures while enjoying this seemingly rare view. The rest of the loop was quite strenuous. A large climb led to some fantastic views.

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360 of Spring Canyon

We got back to the car and headed east. We had a quick stop at the visitors center to fill up some water, pick up a map and grab a Capitol Reef sticker. The drive to Moab was quite beautiful at first, but eventually as we neared I-70 it turned back to flat empty desert. Moab itself was a pretty cool town. I stopped at the post office pick up a package. I happened to find a nice shady spot, so I put the sun reflectors up and opened the windows and left Sierra while I went to a coffee shop to used the internet and headed to the local gear store for some trail info and a few snack bars. The 99 degree heat with the UV index of 10 was enough to have me feeling the burn of the sun through my 100spf sunscreen and had me wishing I had a full brimmed hat instead of just my Sharks cap. After an agonizing 10 minute walk I got to the store, where the people didn’t seem to know anything about anything. When I got back to the car Sierra was sitting quite happily, somehow it was cooler in the car than it had been in a long time. Quite jealous I was happy that Sierra was comfortable.

We set out for Canyonlands, which turns out is way farther than I thought it was. There is a north entrance, which would have been really easy, but the hikes didn’t look nearly as good, so I chose the east entrance to the park. We got about 50 miles from Moab by 7pm and were still a ways from where I intended on finding a camp spot. I decided to try a few different roads. The first was a total bust, but the second proved to be quite nice. There was a short side road that went up a steep climb to a small round bluff with a nice breeze, a beautiful tree and a great view. I had my solar shower all filled up and in my roof box all day, so without delay I pulled it out and strung it from the tree. This is the first solar shower I have ever taken and was the first shower in quite a number of days as well. I was really happy with how well it works, and though even now at 10pm I haven’t seen another car or person, something about showering within view of a road was a bit awkward for me.

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After the shower I cooked up a delicious meal of a “Soup-er Noodle Bowl” with a packet of tuna, some chopped garlic, a little Mrs.Dash, some avocado, and green onion. After dinner I retired to the car for a little reading and sleep. Tomorrow will be Lost Canyon Loop, I’m pretty excited.

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