Monday, April 26, 2010

Wylie the Coyote.....Gulch, that is!

This weekend we decided to head out to Escalante and Coyote Gulch.  It's a hike that we've been looking into for a couple of years and finally got the guts to do.  Unfortunately, because it was a quick decision we couldn't backpack it as is suggested.  I figured that we could day hike it.  I've read many accounts of people day hiking's a long trip but it can be done.  What we learned - it's not a day hike if you do most of it bare foot.  But we couldn't help it, the stream bed was so darn soft as soon as we reached water, our shoes came off.  (Halfway through, I was NOT very happy about this decision as one of my feet is very sunburned, I stepped on TONS of burrs and I'm peeling off excess skin on the inside of my big toe.)  None-the-less, I will provide as detailed a route description as I can for those of you who might attempt this BEAUTIFUL hike.  You can probably can good info elsewhere, but for me, everything I found on the gulch was very ambiguous.

There are many routes to enter and leave the gulch.  We chose to enter through the "Crack in the Wall."  

Myth #1 - Park at the water tanks at the 40 Mile Ridge Road because the last two miles are really sandy and you might have trouble.
The Reality - We drive a Subaru Forester and it made it through with no trouble at all.  Yes the sand is deep; you will want 4WD but other than that you're fine.  If there's cows on the trail just honk at them a bunch and they'll move so you don't have to stop.

After parking, it's about a two mile walk to the crack on a sandy trail and then slick rock.

Myth #2 - Once on the slick rock it's really hard to find your way to the crack because the cairns are all over the place.
The Reality - Any hiker who has ANY sense of direction will be able to find their way with these cairns. 

We arrived at the end of the slick rock and looked down, one side was a HUGE sand dune, the other an amazing cliff.  We knew this was the entrance to the crack so we looked around and sure enough, found "the crack."  Here's a picture of it!  Sorry we just thought this picture would be funny, but on a more humorous note, on the way back up and out fo the crack, Pat did rip his pants...all the way on two!  


At the crack, you must take off your backpacks and walk sideways down and out.  Pretty impressive though the day before we did Spooky Canyon so it wasn't as impressive as it could have been.  Then it's a hike down a sand dune until the river.

The river is gorgeous with lot's of trees, rocks and soft sand.  We decided to hike barefoot because you are in and out of the river so much and we only had hiking boots.  People suggested bringing waders for this part....THIS IS NOT A MYTH - IT'S A GREAT IDEA!!  We saw three or four neat waterfalls that you must navigate around - it's totally  easy, just look around and you'll see a path.  We ate lunch at one and looked up to see an out house up a path.  That was a great site (really, I'm not being sarcastic, we were primitive camping so it was the first outhouse I'd seen for a while).

Myth #3 - the scenery in between Cliff Arch and Jacob Hamblin Arch is the best.
The Reality - Well, we didn't make it all the way to Jacob Hamblin arch before we had to turn around but seriously, if you are just day hiking it, you are NOT missing a thing if you just hang out and explore the lower portion to the Cliff Arch.  It's seriously amazing.  The waterfalls are pretty and the cliff walls that you hike along are awesome (meaning HUGE and awe-inspiring).  

It was unfortunate that we didn't make it all the way.  We wanted to do a loop from the crack in the wall, up Jacob Hamblin Arch and back to the car but we just didn't have time because we were enjoying ourselves n the canyon and taking our time.  The last portion up the arch is reported to be the sketchy part.  A lady at the grocery store in town has done it though and we think if she could do it, we probably could do it too but oh well.  We didn't want to risk getting all the way to the arch and then not having the guts to do it so we turned when we could.  We plan on doing the hike again maybe next year, including staying a few nights in the canyon.  Now that we know more about it we will be a lot more confident about the whole excursion.

 At the end of our 8 hours of hiking we were so glad to reach our car and get back to our camping site.  We made dinner and sat by the fire roasting marshmallows.  YUM!!  

Now - I mentioned that we spent the weekend there.  What did we do the other days?  Well, on Saturday we headed to the popular areas of Spooky and Peek-a-boo.  Or as I mistakenly continued to call them "Pooky and Speak-a-boo."  They are pretty neat.  After getting some advise from the locals, we chose to go up Spooky and down Peek-a-boo.  This direction is definately neat but we were going against the grain.  Most people go the other way so if you are in this canyon during a holiday weekend, you might not want to go the way we went.  Spooky is a super skinny slot....if you are bit on the oversized list, you might not want to attempt this.  Here's a picture of Pat in a very wide portion of Spooky.  Spooky was very impressive but we both like Peek-a-boo better.  Here is a little tunnel in Peek-a-boo.  You can crawl under it or go around.

Well, I know this was a LONG post.  I did it so that if any of you decide to hike Coyote Gulch you can maybe get some straight answers from it.  I had hoped to give a complete route description but we'll just have to get that next year.  You can check out our other pictures on the side bar.


Brianna and Wade said...

SO glad you guys had a good time. Looks like we will have to go sometime with you guys.

Brianna and Wade said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom and Kari Lane said...

I love Spooky and Peek-a-boo. I did it a long time ago and will never forget it!

Mama Jo said...

Oh you two are adventurers! I love how you both LOVE what you do - and now you are SO equiped! Great video - very well done!