Journal entry – 23 September 2015, Wed – Exploring Capitol Reef

Journal entries are just that – the digital copy of my hand-written entries in my journal. If you aren’t interested in the daily details of our adventure, feel free to skip on to the next “regular” post.

Woke up early and hit the road. We’re at the visitors center just a few minutes later, reading about the park, checking out the 3D overview model of the reef, and picking up some maps. Just down the road we pass some U-Pick orchards – free if you pick and eat among the trees – so we stop and sample an apple each before heading on to the trail head for the Hickman Bridge, Rim Overlook, and Navajo Knobs trails.


What amazing scenery! It definitely feels like we’re in the west now – brownish grasses, yellow and red cliffs, even cacti! The bluffs, hills, and cliffs are all amazing, each one different than the last. We pause and take in Hickman Bridge, head on to the Rim Overlook, and then on to Navajo Knobs. It’s a tiring trail, more uphill than we expected, but the view is more than worth it! 360 degree overview of the canyon and mountains from up on our rocky perch. We have it all to ourselves (passed one couple heading down as we went up) and enjoy a midday snack while there.


Eventually we head back down, passing at least four more couples on their way up. We beat the rush and the worst of the heat. So glad we didn’t come during the summer – it’s hot enough now!

Back to a nearby picnic area for lunch and then a stroll through an orchard to pick some fruit for a fresh dessert. Delicious!


There is one more hike that we really want to do and it’s through a canyon so we hope it will be shaded. We head down to the “Grand Wash” and hike up the dry creek bed. No rain in at least a week and no chance today – it’s still a bit intimidating to walk through a canyon carved by water after reading about flash floods in so many western novels.


Only part of the trail is in shade, which is a comfortable temperature. The rest is pretty warm. It’s very humbling to walk down a narrow canyon, with stone walls looming a few hundred feet on either side of us – we are very small, really. The walls have pock marks, water streaks, undercuts, and many other fascinating features.


At the other end of the trail we debate taking a side trip to visit Cassidy Arch (an extra 3 miles) but decide that would be too far for today. The Grand Wash is 2.2 miles each way and it was 4.8 miles each way out to Navajo Knobs – that’s a healthy 14 miles, plus detours and orchard trips. So we head on back, exploring the canyon a bit more closely now that the sun is at our backs.


At the motorcycle we head a bit down the road to see the petroglyphs – carved into the stone walls by the Fremont culture (ancient Hopi Indians) in 1300ish. Ancient graffiti. 🙂


Finally we head down the scenic drive – a 10 mile curvy road that runs down the valley paralleling the Waterpocket Fold. Beautiful stone structures jut up into the sky.


Tired and hungry we head home for supper. The visitors center is closed and we don’t have much cash to use for fresh fruit (it’s $1 a lb if you take it out of the orchard). So we will return and pick in the morning.


Porkchops, onions and mushrooms, and potatoes are grilled and then we eat on the roof to enjoy another beautiful sunset.