One of the cool things about hiking is the innovative names that people have come up with to designate trails, and the trails names in Utah are as colorful and descriptive as any.
So in the last post we hiked Bone Wash to the Elephant Arch trail, a sandy and plodding hike that offered beautiful vistas of the desert and rock formations, and a wash that looked like a river from another planet.
Cottonwood Canyon is actually a dried up riverbed filled with rocks and boulders that makes hiking along the river rather tenuous unless you’re some kind of mountain goat, which we are not. So that meant hiking along the ridgeline for a distance and as that trail runs into the face of a cliff you have to descend to the river bed, traverse, hike back up the other side and continue on until once again faced with a dead end, and once again crossing the riverbed. We did this eight times during this hike!
We needed these little aids a couple of times as we crossed the river bed and tried to find the new trail.
I’m not sure what one calls a fascination with rock faces, mountains, cliffs and mesas, but to Jan and myself the uniqueness of the terrain had us with our cameras out almost constantly.
This was the trailhead for one of the more difficult hikes we have undertaken. The aforementioned Cottonwood Canyon was a lot of exercise but pretty much a straightforward walkabout with the beginning and end well defined. Cottonwood Hills started out that way and our plan was to do a loop of about 4 miles but somehow not long into the hike plans changed. The trail was not as pictured at the trailhead and as we crested a summit and descended a canyon I had a feeling that this was not to be a simple four mile hike. We were going away from the parking lot, a long way away, further than it looked on the trail map. Of course we could have turned around at the 2 1/2 mile mark, but, nooo, we were going to continue on what we could still find of Cottonwood Hills trail and get to Spanish Wash which would then hook us up to Prospector, a single track bike route that if memory served us right would take us back to the car.
Out on these trails you look at the faces of the rocks, weathered by millions of years of erosion and turned into images of whatever comes into your parched imagination – onset of trail dementia.
Yeah – we were sort of losing it, plodding on until we had reached 5 miles out and were seemingly turning back into earth orbit. The trees were minimal, the cottonwoods long behind us in what was Cottonwood Hills, leaving the desert landscape to windblown junipers.
The desert is not only a landscape of dust, sand filled washes, and faces of cliffs begging the imagination, but it is also a floor with gorgeous wildflowers in the spring; small woodland Sunflowers, Desert Sage, Chollo Cactus and blooming Prickly pear Cactus are seen in the most unlikely of places, popping up behind a rock, under sagebrushes and just plain out in the open.
Back to our trek, cruising through slick rock and red dust and seemingly headed back towards the car we came on Spanish Wash, another arid creek bed which filled our shoes to our ankles in red dust. Fortunately we only had to slog through this for about 1/4 mile (1/4 mile out in the desert four hours into a hike is a lot) when we finally hooked up with Prospector Trail which would take us back.
Despite the unexpected length and difficulty this was a great hike. We managed 7 1/2 miles in about five hours, did not exhaust our water supply and burned enough calories to splurge on a Dairy Queen on the way home!
In the last blog post I mentioned a family reunion of sorts in North Carolina that involved a lot of kids who now have kids of their own, several Elders and a raft of amateur chefs who were tasked with cooking meals for some 30 people. My sister Martha and her sous-chefs did a couple of Beef Wellingtons, and not to be outdone, my brother Ian and his sous-chefs not only prepared a monster amount of ceviche, he provided a menu as well. I can’t remember what we had as a main course but I think this appetizer won the night’s award.