After flying to Spokane we made the drive to Rossland via the very scenic State Route 25. Route 25 originates in Davenport and ends just before the border with Canada so we were able to travel the entire route from start to finish. Lots of great scenery as much of the route hugs the river following the many bends and also rises above for spectacular vistas. The ferry is the Gifford-Inchellium Ferry. The church is located in the “town” of Hunters, WA.
On Thursday morning we made an early drive into Zion NP for our final hiking of the trip. We started with a walk along the Virgin River following its winding path until we reached the narrows where the flow of water due to winter snow melt makes continuing further too dangerous. We then hiked the steep climb up to Hidden Canyon. This is a fairly strenuous hike with a 1000 vertical climb along steep narrow switchbacks and exposed cliffs. Well worth the climb with outstanding views and exhilarating moments holding tight to the chains bolted to the rock.
On Wednesday afternoon we drove the Kolob Terrace Road to take in the views of the terrace and Zion NP to our east. The road ends at the Kolob Resevoir after 24 miles and an elevation gain of over 1000 ft. We traveled to mile 18 where the road is still closed due to remaining snow making the road impassable. Great views and a refreshing drop of about 10 degrees in temperature from the desert floor below.
On Tuesday we hiked the Middle Fork of the Taylor Creek in the Kolob Canyons district of Zion NP. We accessed the hike from the trailhead on Kolob Canyons Road. We followed the middle fork crisscrossing the creek multiple times. The canyon narrows and deepens until ending at a double arch alcove. Along the way we stopped to see two long abandoned cabins built by homesteaders around 1930.
On Tuesday we drove north 40 miles to access the much less visited Kolob Canyons area in the northwestern section of Zion NP. The road is paved and winds up along the western side of the canyon providing spectacular views of Nagunt Mesa, Gregory Butte and Burnt Mountain.
On Wednesday we hiked in the Box Canyon within the Box – Death Hollows Wilderness Area which is located in the Dixie National Forest. The Spring Creek flows through the canyon and requires numerous crossings of the creek to proceed up the canyon. This area is very different from the nearby Escalante desert with a mix of red rock canyon walls and towering Ponderosa Pines. The creek was running high from late winter snow melt so we eventually had to get our feet wet on several of the creek crossings. Our hike took about 4.5 hours in which time Maria and I had the canyon completely to ourselves.
On Saturday we hiked down into the Fairyland Canyon from the rim of Bryce. This is one of a kind scenery with towering hoodoos reaching straight up into the sky throughout the canyon. As typical of Utah at this time of the year at 8000 ft elevation the weather can and does change dramatically within minutes. We started this hike under cloudy skies and then encountered heavy snow as we descended from the rim down into the canyon. Within an hour the snow moved off and we enjoyed blue sky and sunshine for the remainder of our trek through the canyon. This is a long hike with over 2000 ft of vertical but well worth it to experience these other wordly formations.
Thursday proved a most exciting and satisfying day as we spent the day canyoneering with Escalante based guide Rick Green. Rick took us to Egypt 1 Canyon where we had the opportunity to work with him to better our canyoneering skills and also learn a great deal about the history and geology of the area. Rick showed us a number of friction techniques to allow us to make steep vertical descents where there are no hand or foot holds by wedging our bodies between the rock walls to descend via friction. Don’t where your best clothing for this activity. We also had our first opportunity to rapel down steep canyon walls. By the time we exited the canyon we were quite wet and muddy because several sections required us to rapel or slide down into knee deep water. A great day with a terrific guide. We are looking forward to our next opportunity to take on more challenging canyons.
On Wednesday we ventured down the Hole in the Rock Road for 26 miles to canyoneer in several exciting slot canyons. This environment was a dramatic change from the tall Ponderosa Pines of the Box Canyon in Dixie NF where we hiked on Tuesday. The road is a washboarded bone rattling dirt track but fun to drive none the less and provides dramatic views of the Straights Cliffs section of the Fifty Mile Bench and Fifty Mile Mountains. Once at the trailhead we tackled the three slot canyons which can be accessed from the Dry Fork Gulch below the trailhead. We hiked Dry Fork first as an out and back as the slot became impassable due to water. We then made a loop by climbing up through the Peek-a-Boo slot and then traversed across to Spooky Gulch and then down climbed Spooky slot exiting into Coyote Gulch and returning to the trailhead from there. As you can see from the photographs below the slots provide some challenging terrain with the tight spaces and chimney descents but make for great fun and excitement.
We traveled from Torrey to Escalante on Scenic Byway Route 12. The views from the sinuously curving road with were breath-taking, especially from the summit at 9,600 feet. Stopped at Lower Calf Creek to hike to the falls, and, finally in Escalante, a good capuccino (with a view) at Kiva Koffeehouse–Stephen’s vacation is complete!