Day 182 – Utah Byways, May 28, 2011
We started our morning drive to Capitol Reef National Park, a park we quickly passed through at the beginning of the week while traveling to Bryce. I recalled seeing a trail to Chimney Rock, so I stopped there on the way into the park and started the trek that ascended 240 feet in the first quarter mile. It was already relatively late in the morning and a somewhat warm day, so after reaching the plateau for a panoramic view, I returned to VANilla to rescue Petey instead of continuing on the 3.5 mile journey.
Before leaving the park, we made one more stop at Hickman Bridge. The two-mile roundtrip to the bridge briefly followed the Fremont River, turned upward for a steep climb at least half the way, and finally leveled out across the sandstone. While most the kiddos on the trail were skipping along to the bridge or exploring the nooks and crannies of the surrounding canyon, the one I was following spent most the time crying because he wanted his mom to carry him on her back since his dad was carrying his younger brother on his shoulders. His older sister finally shouted, “Feed him to the rattlesnakes” as she marched forward.
As I returned from the bridge, a group of older folks, winded from the steep ascent, found nearly the only shaded area, and with a hopeful look in their eyes questioned me, “She wouldn’t lie to us, we’re half way, right?” Frankly, I couldn’t recall the half-way point in distance, but they had at least completed the “half-way point” in effort.
Upon leaving the park, we again passed through the most fascinating, geological landscape that I described at the beginning of the week: multi-colored mesas, grey buttes with sand cones beneath them giving an appearance they have been mined, and sandstone lifted at angle from the earth’s crust. Eventually we passed by some farmland, spotted a few bison, and later entered into canyon land where we stopped at the overlook for Lake Powell.
Lake Powell, some 200 mile long, took 17 years to fill Glen Canyon after the Colorado River was dammed. In the process, the water wandered into so many side canyons that its shoreline extends 2,000 miles, longer than the West Coast. For some reason, I was expecting the lake to appear blue in color, but it fashioned the nice Gulf of Mexico brown color from local dirt.
We took the bridge at Hite Crossing to enter into Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, where we found a primitive campground and got an up close view of the lake. To camp, I paid a $6 fee and drove onto the red sand land surrounding the lake and parked wherever I felt like it. I aimed VANilla perpendicular to the strong breeze coming from the Southwest as I wanted a cool, crosswind for the evening. With each hour, the wind intensified. It was at least 30 mph, gusting to much higher speeds. White caps formed on the lake as a layer of sand sprayed through VANilla’s screened windows. Hopefully this won’t be an all night affair. ETB