Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hiking in Natural Bridges National Monument

It rained steadily the evening before, so I had no interest on dirt road access to hikes on Cedar Mesa. I was already camped at Natural Bridges, and decided to do the 8.6 mile loop hike to see all three bridges up-close-and-personal. The trail starts at the overlook for Sipapu bridge, the second largest natural bridge in the world...

A half-mile down to Sipapu bridge, then 2.3 miles along the creek in White Canyon to reach Kachina Bridge.

From Kachina Bridge, it is another 3.0 miles up Armstrong Canyon to Owachomo Bridge. Unfortunately, there had been a flash flood in the canyon recently (within a week or so). About a mile up the canyon, the flood formed a debris dam that blocked the very small creek at a narrow cliffy section. It was too wide for me to jump across, and deeper than the length of my hiking pole. It was a cool day, and I had no interest in swimming. I didn't see a likely bypass route so I turned around and called it a day.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Moon House ruin

I had a couple days for hiking in southern Utah after the San Juan trip. Since I'd never been to the Cedar Mesa area and it was right nearby, what better time. My friend Sue told me that Moon House was her favorite, so I got directions and the required permit from the BLM Kane Gulch ranger station and off I went. Eight miles of dirt road (high clearance in spots), and another mile of 4wd high clearance (easy, though), and then about a mile down into the canyon and up the other side. Very cool place, some painted decorations that I hadn't seen elsewhere. There are a number of other ruins in this canyon, and probably most of the other canyons around here as well.

I also had time for a hike from Kane Gulch RS down to the Junction at Grand Gulch, about an 8 mile round trip. I finished that right at dark, and 10 minutes later it was raining. Perfect timing, but the evening rain made me wary of any dirt road travel for the next day.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Picking up on the San Juan

I connected with a group from Durango doing a volunteer clean-up trip on the lower San Juan River in southeastern Utah. For six days on the water we had mostly excellent weather, picked up lots of trash, cut down some invasive ravenna grass, and generally had a good time. Great group of people, and a lovely river canyon that I'd never seen before.

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