Friday, April 4, 2014

Coyote Gulch

Day 2

I was up just after the light hit my tent, I slept rather well considering I was using a new sleeping bag and wasn't sure I trusted the temperature rating. It was rated for 30 degrees and a comfort level of 39 degrees. The temperature evidently dropped below freezing as we found ice on my buddies rain fly. I was excited that I stayed warm and shaved over a pound of my sleep system. It was a early night for us and we all managed to get up and moving by 7 am. Breakfast consisted mostly of oatmeal and/or snack bars; previous experiences with dehydrated breakfasts kept them from our shopping carts. Not sure what they put in some of those meals but it's not pleasant to be stuck in a small backpacking tent with an upset stomach. There was quite a bit of condensation on everything and we ended up exploring the large area around our camp while waiting for the sun to burn off all of the dew from our gear.

Up a short hill we ran into this:


Not sure if they are actual petroglyphs or if someone was screwing around. There is supposed to be some in the canyon but I am a little dubious of these. Here is some of the scenery were lucky enough to enjoy while waiting for the sun.

 Around 11 am we finally gave up waiting and packed our wet tents and started off towards Coyote natural bridge. The wind was gone and it was high time I started taking some more pictures. With our packs reloaded and shouldered we were off!

Coyote Natural bridge!


Along the wall of Coyote bridge we discovered some small minnows, even without our poles we can catch fish. Its amazing how well they seem to do in this environment as we tried filtering this water and it still tasted like sand. Luckily there were a few seeps in the canyon walls we could collect sand free water to filter.

Again, we hit the trail excited about getting out of this canyon to visit some others!

I believe this is the broken arch I read about before our trip, but I am not completely sure as we didn't search the entire canyon. It sure looks like a broken one to me.


Good thing Coltin was there to hold up this small pebble!

Wait for me!

We seen a couple of these large cottonwoods through out the canyon. 

I love this waterfall, I'm a sucker for a beautiful waterfall and will travel many miles to see them.

One more look at the arch from the bottom before we climbed out.

I took this picture about half way up the canyon wall; remember the one you "don't need a rope for". If I would have had some coal with me I could have made some diamonds!

We had the kids go first and I was the last one to climb out.

 A few more pictures at the top of the gulch; if we weren't so excited to see Peak a boo and spooky slot canyons, I would have wanted to explore the rest of Coyote.

A little camera play on the way back to the trailhead.

We made it back to the trailhead about 5 pm and loaded the truck, we had a 20 mile drive up that awful wash board road to the dry fork trailhead. Every one of us were dying to see these new to us slot canyons. On the way to them I checked the GPS and realized we had traveled 17 miles inside the gulch. It only felt like five due to the almost non existent slope. The terrain was easy to negotiate other than the occasional sandy hillside you had to walk up or down. A little after 6 pm we made it to the Dry fork trailhead and there's two parking areas. One for cars and the other of high clearance vehicles. There are some mighty gnarly ruts so be careful. Everyone grabbed some water and I grabbed my pack with only some fleece and my tripod.
Off we went!

Its about a mile to both entrances from the trailhead, very easy to follow the cairns. Half way we ran into this cliff and everyone took turns horsing around.

The entrance to Peak a boo; Spooky was just behind us. We decided to do Peak a boo first and this turned out in our favor.

 Right about the end, which is only about a mile and a half, you can leave the canyon at a cairn. IF you are not very proficient in land navigations, DO NOT follow the cairns, we lost them about a half mile out and had to reach high ground to find Spooky. Besides it was a 2 mile jaunt though thick sand, however we do not regret going in at the top versus the bottom.

It was about 8 pm when we reached spooky and we had no more light for pictures. This is the top and as one of the boys declared it was spooky going in with just a headlamp. There are numerous 12 inch wide areas and I had to take my pack off and carry it most of the way. Several drops reach more than 8 feet so you have to be very careful. If you are in this canyon and a flash flood hits you will not make it out. Spooky is the greatest slot canyon any of us have ever been explored! Walking this canyon with head lamps just made it even spookier. At the bottom of the canyon you reach a 11 or so foot climb down. I wish I could have taken more pictures but I vow to return as spoon as possible.

After leaving the canyon we had a heck of a time finding our way back to the truck as looking for cairns in the dark isn't easy. As I stated before do not do these canyons if you cannot navigate without a trail or at night. All we could talk about the whole way back to the truck was spooky and how much fun we had. It was only a 4 mile round trip but it almost over shadowed Coyote Gulch! We made it to the truck a little after 10 pm and decided to stay at the State park in Escalante and have a Prospector's breakfast in the morning. Once at the park we set camp and were fast asleep; the next morning we had our breakfast and started our long drive home. Now what are you waiting for? Get those boots on!

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