Southern Utah Wanderings | Day 5

Wednesday, October 7, 2009 | Starting Odometer: 144445

Since it was getting dark pretty quickly when I arrived at the Hole in the Rock the evening before, I didn’t really get any good photos. When I woke up today, I grabbed my camera and started shooting away 🙂 I was up before sunrise and hung out for a little while until the sun was up in the sky…well, actually behind some clouds.

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Storm rolling through in the distance
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Sun coming up behind some clouds over the Hole in the Rock
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After taking a bunch of photos I was back on my way back to Escalante.

These markers marked the actual Mormon (Hole in the Rock) Trail. There was a rainbow in the distance when I shot this one.
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Old wagon tracks carved into the slickrock
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I stopped at this water carved wash for some more photos
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Still a bit away from Escalante
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I was originally planning on heading back the way I came, but when I reached the turnoff for Left Hand Collet, I decided to give it a try. When I was at the Visitor’s Center a few days earlier, I had inquired about the condition of Left Hand Collet (it is known to wash out frequently) and was informed by the ranger that it was washed out and impassible. I don’t always take the ranger’s word on road conditions, since it appears to me that their main goal is to keep as many people off of the difficult roads as possible (Though, I can fully understand why they would do that, too). I knew full well there might be a chance I would not make it through and would have to turn around and come back the same way, but that was a chance I was willing to take.

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It turns out that even though there were signs at both ends of Left Hand Collet warning that it is currently impassible, I found out that it is just not the case. While I certainly would not take a stock SUV through this trail because it is a bit rough, any Jeep or modified SUV would have no problems with it. I never even needed to put my Jeep in 4WD to get through it. I’m glad I ended up trying this route, because the scenery was great. I eventually found myself back at the Smoky Mountain Road again, and continued on to Escalante again.

Yeah right….
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When i finally reached Escalante, I continued north until I was in Boulder again where I stopped at the Burr Trail Grill for lunch. The burger I had there was outstanding, and I would highly recommend it. The Burr Trail Grill is located on the corner of UT 12 and the Burr Trail, which was my next road to follow. Even though this road was paved much of the way, the scenery along the way was pretty nice as well…especially the stretch through Long Canyon.

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To get off the pavement for a while, I took the Wolverine Loop trail. This was a quick and easy loop.

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When I reached the Wolverine hiking trail, I took a break from the Jeep and hiked a ways into the wilderness to check out an old petrified forest. There were also some narrows nearby that I want to head back an explore with Amanda sometime.

Large piece of petrified wood
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Soon I was back the the Burr Trail which finally entered Capitol Reef National Park where it turned to gravel.

Views of the Henry Mountains and Waterpocket Fold as I entered Capitol Reef National Park again.
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Another of the highlights of this entire trip was the short spur trail that lead into Upper Muley Canyon. Not only was it a very cool canyon, there were also a number of arches along the way, and the hike to the Strike Valley Overlook at the end gave me great views of the Waterpocket Fold. I took a bunch of photos along this short 3 mile trail….

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Plenty of views of Peekaboo Arch as you enter Upper Muley Twist
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Double Arch
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Cherrios Double Arch
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View of the Waterpocket Fold from the Strike Valley Overlook
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Back on the Burr Trail I quickly descended the switchbacks (the actual Burr Trail) and finished up by following the trail to Bullfrog. I headed north on 279 to 95 again and made my way to Hanksville, where I would spend the night at the campground and finally get a real shower 😉

Burr trail switchbacks (hard to see as this side of monocline was already in the shade)
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Ending odometer reading: 144703 | Total Miles: 258


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