The Gulch

Southern Utah Wanderings | Canyons of the Escalante
Saturday & Sunday, October 4-5, 2014

On Saturday morning I left for my annual week-long trip into southern Utah. This year I planned to spend the whole week along the canyons of the Escalante River in the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument. I met Jared, who would be joining me for the entire trip, in Boulder and we took off down the Burr Trail to the trailhead for The Gulch. Our plan was to start out with an overnight backpack trip into The Gulch so I could visit a few rock art sites that had been on my radar for a few years.

Backlit cottonwoods as we enter The Gulch.

15527507831_9888eff3d4_z.jpg
The Gulch by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Jared photographing the first petroglyph panel we came across.

15521522742_91e51663f0_z.jpg
Photographing Petroglyphs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A few closer shots of this interesting panel.

15335900020_0e86a1a88d_z.jpg
Circle Sheep by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

15505433606_ed15580987_z.jpg
Gulch Petroglyphs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

15518528821_d3bcbae32d_z.jpg
Horned Sun Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Nice light in a large alcove we explored nearby.

15335068668_6da0580c88_z.jpg
Big Alcove Stripes by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We found a very impressive set of pictographs hidden in a shallow alcove.

14909784573_dc28ec4db6_z.jpg
Atlatl by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

15498587776_c59cb15d34_z.jpg
Three Figures by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

There were some Barrier Canyon Style figures as well as some designs similar to those found in the Weavers Caves.

15342115867_8742618dcf_z.jpg
Pictograph Cave by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

15522679225_3cf7526b2f_z.jpg
Pictograph Detail by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We hiked a little way up Sand Hollow to search for a spring that was supposed to be there, but were unable to find it.

15531076622_12f10f14aa_z.jpg
Sand Hollow by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We setup camp just below the confluence with Sand Hollow.

15334575220_653f112a53_z.jpg
Gulch Camp by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After setting up camp we hiked further down-canyon to this cabin before turning back around.

15520902682_1d26d0f7f7_z.jpg
Line Cabin by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After returning to camp we had some dinner and then I climbed out of the canyon and onto the King Bench to explore more of the area.

15498777296_ff9c0f155d_z.jpg
Dome Stripes by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

15344686670_22656e2cf3_z.jpg
Sandstone Exploring by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Looking back down into The Gulch.

15527467331_e2b01ff9b2_z.jpg
Hiking Out of The Gulch by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Nice views from up here.

15499516456_65e132b635_z.jpg
The Gulch Sunset by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

When I reached the closest high point this little gray fox started following me around.

15335236817_879f2153ce_z.jpg
Follower by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

15521409482_b6532f2c1c_z.jpg
Mesa Top by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Disappearing light on sandstone domes.

15522294592_3d0a7573a5_z.jpg
King Bench Light by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

When the sun was down we hiked back to camp and pretty much went right to bed. It had been a long day and we were pretty tired.

On Sunday morning we were up shortly after sunrise and took down our camp so we could hike back out to the trailhead. Since we were camped near the creek in the bottom of the canyon, it was a bit cold when we got up, but it quickly warmed up once the sun reached the bottom of the canyon.

We climbed up to this large alcove with a smoke-stained ceiling on our hike back out. There were no ruins or rock art inside, but we did find some pot sherds, corncobs and plenty of lithic scatter.

15335228710_67e0fe94fa_z.jpg
Alcove Exploring by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Jared in the entrance of the alcove.

15335783040_7b355e27a2_z.jpg
Exiting the Alcove by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Jared spotted this arch on our way back up the canyon. At first we weren’t sure if it really was an arch since we couldn’t see through it, but we eventually found this view that let us see the opening.

15499384896_493ca4c879_z.jpg
Arch by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Two hoodoos above The Gulch.

15522004635_1d9634298d_z.jpg
Hoodoos by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Before leaving the trailhead, we visited a nearby granary that is marked on some USGS topographic maps of the area. It was pretty easy to find.

15519343251_7b49b5f895_z.jpg
Gulch Granary by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Opening on the top.

15519413211_5bd72298e3_z.jpg
Granary Door by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After leaving the trailhead we stopped in Boulder for lunch before continuing on to the Escalante area for the remainder of the week. On our way we explored a few seldom-used Jeep roads that didn’t appear to go anywhere interesting. Luckily, as we were ready to turn around and find a campsite for the night we spotted some sand dunes off in the distance. We were unaware of sand dunes in the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument so we hiked over to them just before sunset so we could check them out and take plenty of photos. It was a nice little area of dunes that were pristine without a footprint to be found anywhere. We climbed some of the higher dunes and took photos until the sun was down and the light was gone. It was a lot of fun having some nice sand dunes all to ourselves!

Sand blowing off the top of the dune when we first arrived.

15329109199_e50e53bc56_z.jpg
Blowing Sand by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Great light and shadows.

15520899185_b8d1e7b0fe_z.jpg
Dune Shadows by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

15329308929_41eea0ee54_z.jpg
Sand Dune Ripples by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

There were no tracks when we arrived, but I had to leave some behind in order to explore this area and take plenty of photos!

15506624246_e726b7274c_z.jpg
My Footprints by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

There were ripples in the sand everywhere catching the evening light.

15344290657_1d852e0ddb_z.jpg
Ripples by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Jared photographing from the top of a dune.

14909678184_5cab91ab65_z.jpg
Photographing Dunes by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

15521649112_1181aeed95_z.jpg
Catching Light by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Before we left, we just had to run and jump off the top of a few of the dunes. We must be crazy for jumping into soft sand with expensive camera gear in our hands and on our backs, but it sure was fun!

15530264425_1ee6d10d84_z.jpg
Jump by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The skeleton of a tree, the Earth’s shadow and the almost-full moon as we hiked back across the desert to my Jeep.

15335883567_31ce69048e_z.jpg
Twilight Tree by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

>> The Gulch Photo Gallery


1 comment

  1. John Spurr November 25, 2014 8:46 pm  Reply

    Wonderful trip report… as always! If you ever write a book, I’ll edit it for free. I did a lot of editing in my career.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *