Monday, March 30, 2015

Gorgeous Gorges Trip, Day 6

Spring Break Day 6
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Torrey to Moab, UT
Capitol Reef and Little Wild Horse Slot Canyon

Breakfast isn't always a big deal for us (unless we're talking about breakfast for dinner!) but on this trip it was. We made our own granola and brought that along for easy breakfasts. We used yogurt from hotels to mix with the granola, and the Red Sands Inn just happened to have peaches that I thought paired well. Yum!

We began today's adventure by driving back to Capitol Reef for one last hike, and to treat ourselves to some pie! The sky was overcast today and it was cool outside, but thankfully it never rained on us.

The Gifford House

There was pie this morning!

We treated ourselves to a peach and a mixed berry pie to go. 

We stopped across the street from the Gifford House to look at the giant cottonwood trees. This is what Curtis remembered the most from the last time he visited here. I personally really liked the fruit trees with the pretty white leaves though!

While we were there, this turkey gang got all up close and personal to us. We were concerned that they would find a way to steal the pie...

Our last stop in Capitol Reef was to hike the 1.7 miles to Hickman Bridge. The trail gained about 300 feet, but it really wasn't too difficult and we'd recommend it if you're looking for a shorter, easier hike with a cool destination.

Hickman Bridge is huge! The only way I could get a picture of the whole thing is by using panorama mode. It was such a cool feeling walking around and under it.

However, this type of geological feature has given me a new question. On vacation, we saw many natural bridges, windows, and arches like this, and what I want to know is how do they decide what to call each individual one? Why is it "Cassidy's Arch" and "Hickman's Bridge"? Hmmm...

The view looking through the bridge

Looking the opposite way from the other side of the bridge

After a quick hike back to the Jeep, we said goodbye to Capitol Reef and headed East on highway 24, stopping a few times for letterboxes. After leaving the national park, the scenery really isn't quite as interesting as it was before, but on a positive note the drive went faster because we weren't constantly going up or downhill!

One last picture of the beautiful snow capped Henry Mountains

There's not a whole lot to see between Capitol Reef and Moab, but we had decided to set aside a good portion of our day to hike in some slot canyons that were a little ways off the road. When driving on highway 24, we followed the signs to Goblin Valley State Park until just before entering the park and paying the fee. Instead, we took a different road to Little Wild Horse Slot Canyon. This was also recommended to us by Paul, Holly, & Mitch. There's another slot canyon called Bell Canyon, and we had the option of hiking through the entirety of both canyons on an 8 mile loop. Having nothing else to do that day other than drive, we went for the 8 mile loop!

We just love hiking through slot canyons! We saw our first one last year on spring break, which was Buckskin Gulch on the AZ/UT border. Of course there's a little bit of concern when it's very cloudy, as being in a slot canyon would be very dangerous in the event of a thunderstorm, but thankfully that wasn't an issue today. 

We started by hiking through Bell Canyon, hiking the loop trail clockwise, and that is the way we recommend doing it. The first half mile of the trail takes you from the car park to the beginning of the loop trail, and that section is mostly easy aside from one drop off which you must climb up. Don't let that stop you, because the views are worth it!

The slot canyon began not too far from the beginning of the loop. The canyon walls got higher and higher, and the canyon grew more and more narrow. It felt so cool to be walking through!

The trail itself is mostly easy, with a few technically challenging parts. We came across a couple large puddles that we had to make our way across. (Maybe it really isn't that difficult and I'm just pathetic? I'm not sure.) But when you're walking on the trail, it stays relatively flat making it a fun hike.

Curtis had all sorts of fun with the GoPro. That is going to be one awesome video once we get it edited, let me tell you! ;)

My awesome husband.

This puddle was a bit more difficult to get around - the water was deeper here and there weren't rocks to help. Don't worry, we have a 2 minute video of me struggling to get across. Thanks Curtis! :p

This is what I mean when I say "technically challenging".  After a while you get used to it and it becomes quite fun.

Bell Canyon went on for about 1.6 miles, then we had to take the ATV road to get to Little Wild Horse canyon. This part of the trail was just less than 2 miles as well. We had been warned that it was difficult to follow, but didn't find that to be the case. There seemed to be a lot of people going the opposite way that we did, and we were okay with that - when we were hiking through the canyons, we always had them all to ourself! 

The trail went up and over a hill and descended into Little Wild Horse canyon. We stopped there for a quick snack. The canyon was less impressive from this side, and we were anxious to hike through and find why it seemed to be more popular than Bell Canyon.

This time, instead of having to climb up challenging sections, we only had to jump down them, which was much easier. There also weren't any large puddles in this canyon. 

We decided that we liked the red canyon walls of Buckskin Gulch better. However, being able to see it all on an 8 mile loop trail was easier than hiking through all 40 miles of Buckskin... :)

For a while, we were unsure of why Little Wild Horse was so popular. The canyons just weren't as narrow as Bell Canyon. But finally, with about a mile left of the slot canyon, it finally met our expectations of what a slot canyon should be! We decided that the last mile was probably the coolest, so if you want to visit an awesome slot canyon but don't have a lot of time, just go a ways into Little Wild Horse and you won't be disappointed!

Our favorite section - this stretched on for a while!

One last drop off

We finished the whole loop in less than 4 hours, then rewarded ourselves with the peach pie. The entire peach pie. Yum. We then continued our drive to Moab, driving 24 to interstate 70,  70 East toward Colorado, and then 191 South to Moab. We found that the stretch of highway between the interstate and Moab was the busiest we had seen since...well... Phoenix traffic last Friday at noon. 

We found our hotel and grabbed dinner at the Denny's next door. We went to bed early so that we could be up long before sunrise for the next day's adventure!

Day 6 Wrap Up: Drove 200 miles, hiked 10 miles, got 3 letterboxes.
Highlights: PIE... and the slot canyons!

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