Upper Muley Twist (again) May 2014

We decided to make another attempt on Upper Muley Twist in Capitol Reef this spring.  We had hiked it in November of 2012, but stayed in the wash because of wind and snow during our trip.  This year, we wanted to do the whole loop, including the rim trail that would give us a view from the top of the cliffs out over Halls Creek, Thompson Mesa and the whole Waterpocket Fold.

On our way to our camping spot near Studhorse Peak on the Burr Trail, we stopped at the Post, near the Lower Muley Cutoff Trail, and hiked to an unnamed arch that Dad had seen while hiking there.

bretton on lower muley cutoff desert bottlebrushThe desert was blooming.  Eden searched as searched for a completely open cactus flower, but had to settle for the beautiful variety of wildflowers that were blooming.

max and lucy in old truck

 

Our camp was near an old dugout and camp used probably for uranium mining.  Lucy and Max loved playing in this old truck.

On Saturday, we drove the few miles to the Upper Muley Twist trailhead, and then followed the hike.  Rain and wind were in the forecast for the evening and Sunday, so we started out climbing to the top of the cliffs and following them for about 7 miles to where the trail began to descend into the wash.

DSC_0051 lucy and max at strike valley vlookfrom upper muley twist(HDR)

The trail was very high with plenty of exposure, but the trail was wide and easy to walk.  There were no frightening slips or slides, but still we were very glad to finally reach the wash bottom.  Just as we thought we had reached the bottom of the wash, there was a pouroff that had to be climbed around, costing us another 1/2 mile of high climbing above the slot.  Because we were all pretty much done with being high at that point, we didn’t take any pictures down into the very narrow slot canyon that Upper Muley Canyon becomes.

The most exciting part of our trip also didn’t get any pictures taken.  Overnight, rain began to fall and then turned to snow.  We got up in the morning and packed up as quickly as possible, worried about driving home in the heavy snow over the Burr Trail and Boulder mountain.  Thank goodness the Burr trail is paved — it was very wet, and snow was beginning to stick in places.  After a nice breakfast in Boulder, we drove home slowly over Boulder mountain.  The Torrey side had received about 6 inches of fresh snow, with more falling and a stiff wind in places.  Crazy Utah May!

Now we’re calling Upper Muley conquered–for now.  Since we’ve seen it from the top and bottom, we can now move on to other hikes for a while.  The arches were as wonderful this time as they were last time, and the view from the top unforgettable.

 

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Navajo Knobs 2013

Early in March, we hiked Navajo Knobs in Capitol Reef again.  Since I’ve told you about this great hike before, I won’t write all about it again.  Instead, we let Brett be in charge of the camera, and I want to share this great picture.

picture from top of Navajo Knobs

Just showing the forever you can see from the top!

Some more hiking posts soon to come, and a little about how we wind up our homeschool year.  Hope to see you again soon!

Upper Muley Twist — Capitol Reef National Park

Upper Muley Twist, in Capitol Reef National Park, should definitely be rated one of the most scenic.  After all, how often do you hike past 10 arches in 6 miles?  Last weekend, with snow flurries and wind chasing us to hike quickly, we hiked into the bottom of Upper Muley Twist.  We stopped at the first trailhead, although only about 1/10th of a mile to the next trailhead was rough (it was the first 1/10th, and we turned around.)  The first 2 1/2 miles to the real trailhead was easy road walking, and the first arches were spotted on that part of the hike.  Peekaboo Rock is the only arch found in the white sandstone, the rest all on the east, red sandstone side.

 

The only two arches marked on the map are Peekaboo Rock and this one, called Double Arch.

 

Keep your eyes peeled, don’t just stare at your feet, or you will walk right by some spectacular arches.

 

All of these arches are quite high on the canyon walls, as you can see in the picture below.

This one was our favorite, and is our designated lunch spot for next time we visit this hike.  It was the only one accessible to climb into, and had a wonderful alcove below it.

We definitely want to return to Upper Muley Twist soon, because we did not get to hike the rim route.  There is a loop hike that goes to the top of the canyon to see the Waterpocket Fold, and while we hiked to the top, we did not hike along the top because of the gusty wind.

We really need the perspective from the top to see the angles and beauty of this canyon.  It is definitely a “revisit soon” hike.  In the meanwhile, we are congratulating ourselves on stretching the hiking season:  this weekend was exceptionally cold and blustery for November, with 30 degree temperatures and snow squalls, along with 20 mph wind gusts.  One reason there aren’t many people pictures for this hike:  no one wanted to stand still long enough to get their picture taken.  The little kids enjoyed it, though, and Lulu bragged about wearing 3 hats!

All in all, a great trip — one we would love to repeat.

Hope you are enjoying great autumn times wherever you happen to be!  Leave me a comment below.

 

Exploring Capitol Reef National Park

Don’t drive through Capitol Reef without stopping to see the fruit orchards and one room school house at Fruita.  Fruita was a tiny town in the middle of Capitol Reef — what a location to live in!  The kids and I really enjoyed peeking through the windows of the school house, and imaging Laura, Mary and Almanzo going to just such a school.

Another must stop at Capitol Reef is the Goosenecks overlook.  Sulfur Creek is one of the most wonderful hikes in Capitol Reef, and I hope to do this hike again this summer and show you pictures of it.  In the meantime, looking off the overlook down into this deep canyon gives a foretaste of what is in store.

We stopped at the overlook to take some pictures.

I guess you can tell how much Max hates hiking.

Lots more to see in Capitol Reef — can’t wait til I get to go there again.  Hope you’re having a great week!

Hiking Lower Spring Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park

This weekend was beautiful spring weather, a little breezy and 70 degrees.  A little hot for a hiking — but just perfect.  We weren’t certain where we would be hiking, because we wanted to do Spring Canyon, but that required fording the Fremont River.  If the river was too high, we planned to hike Upper Muley Twist, another must do Capitol Reef hike we’ve been saving for the right day.  Mom and Dad got down to Capitol Reef on Saturday afternoon and checked the ford.  Dad actually was able to ford it, so we planned to get up early on Sunday started hiking to Spring Canyon from the Chimney Rock trailhead.

The first time we had hiked this trail, we only made it part way to the confluence with Spring Canyon.  We were “checking it out” on our way to another hike.  The trail at Chimney Rock starts up a steep, blue clay hill that really kicked our butts when we were here before.  This time we just powered right up it.  It is short, and it is nearly the only uphill on this trail.  Right after you get to the top of this hill, start looking for petrified wood.  It is everywhere, some of it big stumps, some bark, and some pieces that look like splinters from someone splitting firewood.

This is a big stump we saw further down the canyon that someone very strong had lifted up on top of a boulder.

We came to an open looking confluence that we assumed was the confluence with Spring Canyon, and followed it a little way up canyon before realizing it was just a box.  The  confluence with Spring Canyon is signed, and it seems farther than 3 miles from the trailhead (posted), but my GPS was getting lots of crazy points, so I don’t have good mileage on this trip.

The light was beautiful for taking shots of the canyon and the desert varnish (the black markings on the canyon walls) was  shining like wet paint.  As usual, the kids found plenty of rock climbing and fun on the trail.

We did walk up the Spring Canyon Confluence when we found it, and although the spring was not marked on the map, we did find where the water began about a half mile up from the confluence.  If this water is perennial, it would make Spring Canyon a very nice overnight backpack.  Most of the hike is a straight wash walk, with a little sand slogging and bouldering thrown in for spice.  There is only one tricky spot of the trail, a climb around a narrow slot canyon.

The path above the slot canyon was not too scary, but one part of it was a walk around a sliding dirt hill above a drop.  Dad and Shandy were ahead, and assured us it was fine, but it appeared that we were walking on a thin line carved into the dirt.  After deciding we would probably survive a fall (but with lots and lots of road rash and broken legs), Lulu and I took our walk around the cliff.

This was definitely the most exciting part of the hike.  After a stop for lunch, we finished our hike down the canyon.  We spotted an arch high on the wall, and there was one very beautiful alcove.

In the excitement of the river crossing, we forgot to take pictures!  Sorry.  It was about thigh deep and running quite fast, but the bottom was not slippery.  We crossed with arms linked, and were successful!  Thank goodness — no way we were hiking back 9 miles.  That is also the reason you should never start a hike with a possibly uncrossable river on it — when you get there, you’ll try to cross whether or not it is safe.

Hope you enjoy the pictures!  Go to Capitol Reef soon.  You won’t be sorry and March and April are perfect times to go.  Tomorrow — some more things to see on your trip.

Hiking on New Year’s Eve: Pleasant Creek, Capitol Reef

Ever since reading on FIMBY about their family’s commitment to hike every week throughout the year, I have been dying to try out hiking in the snow.  Our family is pretty determined about hiking, but we have never hiked when the ground was really snowy.  On our get-away to Capitol Reef this weekend, though, we were able to experience a little snow hiking, which led us to believe we could do a little more closer to home.

We drove down the scenic drive at Capitol Reef National Park to where the pavement turns to dirt, then continued on a few more miles to what (I believe) is the end of the road at Pleasant Creek.  Just like the Fremont, Pleasant Creek was surprisingly full and not quite frozen over.  In places, the ice was thick and clear across the creek, but in most places it was not safe to cross on the ice.  Well–it was safe, if you wanted to be cold and wet.

The snow was much deeper here than it had been on our other weekend hike — whether because of the altitude or because of the exposure, or a combination of the two, I am not sure.  Anyway, hiking was more difficult as we were “postholing” wherever the snow was deep.  We also were not ready for this deeper snow, since we were hiking in fabric boots and were getting quite wet.

After just one mile, which felt much longer since there was no trail and we were bushwhacking most of the time, we decided to look for a break and resting place.  We found a protected alcove where we could eat our lunch.  Meanwhile, the little kids did some mining (don’t tell the Park Service please!)

Yes, we kept all the gold they found.  No, we won’t be moving to paradise (also known as Torrey, Utah) anytime soon.

After our sunny break, we headed back to the cars along a snow covered road.  On our trip home, we discussed what we would need to do to enjoy some snowy hiking closer to home.  We are looking forward to trying it out soon, especially if temperatures stay as warm as they have been in the last weeks.

All in all, we had a wonderful weekend.  Everyone arrived home with sun-kissed cheeks and big smiles.  Hope you enjoyed your weekend, too!  If you have an idea about winter hiking, please leave a comment below.  Thanks!

Hiking into the New Year: Navajo Knobs, Capitol Reef National Park

Dad invited us to go hiking in Capitol Reef with them this weekend.  The forecast was temperatures in the 40s and 50s, and with sunshine on the way, we were excited to go.  We drove down early Friday morning, arriving at the Hickman Bridge trailhead at 9:30.  The river was lined with ice and snow, and it looked cold, but we knew we would soon be high up into the sunshine.

We filled our packs with our some of our usual hiking food:  chicken adobo (a recipe I must share with you soon), hard boiled eggs, some hard rolls and cheese.  We also took along plenty of water, because even in the winter it is easy to get dehydrated during hard exercise, and plenty of candy (helps with motivation.)

We took our first breather and photo op at a viewpoint of Pectol’s Pyramid.

We soon began the long climbing switchbacks that would lead us first to the Rim Overlook and then to the Navajo Knobs. These climbs are along the edges of cliffs, but are wide enough not to be frightening while hiking with children.  There were just a few areas where we had the little ones hold hands with an adult, but for the most part this was like climbing long, sandstone sidewalks.  Any time the slope faced north, it was covered with a few inches of soft snow.

The views were incredible.

There was a great place to sit and look at the whole word from the top of the knobs, but not such a great place to take a picture of the family sitting on the top of the knobs.  One more step backwards would have been a long way down.  Anyway, this is part of what we could see.

What a fantastic hike and what a wonderful way to spend the New Year’s weekend.  We feel like the luckiest people in the whole world to be: strong and healthy enough to do this hike; close enough to Capitol Reef to do this hike; have parents who take us on trips like this; be alive!

Tomorrow I’ll let you know what we did for New Year’s Eve.  Hope you’re enjoying your weekend, too.