Monday, March 26, 2007

Entering the Lions Den.....

Abi here......it's raining ..... & we're roughing it! We left Springdale early(ish) as we were going to head towards Escalante via Bryce Canyon and have a walk there, heading out through Tropic (where we stayed at a lovely B&B when we were here last) .... However, as we approached Bryce the clouds thickened, then descended and then the rain took hold. On the approach to Bryce we really couldn't see much further than a few feet, so we decided to head straight into Tropic & get some lunch & supplies. Tropic looked a little washed out as we pulled up - we found a rather nice looking restaurant & ordered what is the worst meal we've had since we arrived ... how disappointed were we? The service matched the re-heated meal, so I refused to tip, which meant Rob left the premises before me as he was too embarrassed to stay - BUT you tip for good service & not as a matter of course - so I didn't.

We then drove through to Escalante - stopping at the Visitor Centre on the way in. Both of us were really surprised at the size (or lack thereof) of the town (almost a village) since we'd left Springdale, we'd not seen any shops larger than your local Co-Op (the corner shop variety) ... honestly, if you live in any of these places you'd need to take a day just to grocery shop! The lady at the Visitor Centre was very helpful and gave us all the details required to find Calf Creek Falls (the one walk I'd picked prior to leaving home) - Rob's enthusiasm was as lacking now as it was previously, he didn't want to 'boon-dock' (without hooking up to water & power) even though we have water & a generator - the camp at the falls (by the carpark) is literally that, a camp by the carpark - no mains, no phones, no loos ... but each site had a fire & most people were proper camping, with tents & everything!

Once we had ignored the sign saying 'not recommended for vehicles over 25ft' and crossed over the ford, we eventually secured ourselves at a slight angle, but in a designated 'spot', we filled in the envelope with our details and posted our $7 fee into the honesty box. The rain came down a little harder & we sat in the comfort of our camper whilst wet and dreary people milled about!!!! We didn't sleep badly, although a little chilly and due to the angle it felt as though we'd been asleep on a hill :-) We set off for the falls just before 9.

The 6am alarm had gone off, but we'd not crawled out of bed for 2 reasons (i) it was too damn cold and (ii) it was too damn dark! we both thought it'd be lighter earlier, but we were wrong. Eventually I got up and made coffee and porridge (good hearty food!)
and then off we went. It was a long trek into the wilderness - and that's exactly what it felt like - over boulders, through valleys and following the river. Eventually (3miles on) we came to the falls and well worth the effort it was too. We were the 2nd group to arrive, we chatted to the other guys (from Salt Lake) and asked where there dog was, as we'd clearly heard one on our way up .... oh no, they didn't have one .. that would have been the coyote's then :) We sat for 15mins or so enjoying the calm, cool and quiet & headed back. On the way back we passed heaps of people making their way in, so we'd timed it very well. We saw the wild turkey, indian rock paintings, 800year old storage huts built into the side of the canyons & then we were back with winnie for a cuppa before we headed off for Moab. [Rob here....what Abi didn't mention is that the Canyon is home to Rattlesnakes, Mountain Lions, Scorpions, Coyote's and Poison Oak. A great place to go for a stroll. The photo on the left shows some tracks I picked up on the trail. I'm not sure what it is but the park ranger did mention he'd seen a labrador earlier today. When we heard that bark I nearly wet myself. We were miles from the nearest town and hadn't seen anyone on the walk that morning. I had these images of being chased by Coyote's while Mountain Lions were launching themselves at us from the cliffs above!!!! Abi was also humming 'dueling banjo's' from deliverance. I could just see us coming round the corner and bumping into Billie Bob, Earl and their dog Cletus, drool from the chewing tobaco running down their chins (and I'm including the dog)!!! (Oh when researching Redneck names I came across this excellent web site.)]

The first climb was the side of the canyon we'd just walked through. At the top, we literally were at the summit, the road cut away either side of us & the views were amazing - although not a clue that a 50ft waterfall was somewhere
below us. There were snow covered mountains in the distance and as we continued, we realised that is where we were headed - straight in up and over (9600 feet to be exact) ... it was a climb and somewhat surprising change of climate, but a lovely drive. Once down the other side it was the most b-o-r-i-n-g three hours... through Boulder, Capitol Reef National Park (something and nothing but with fruit orchards at the bottom, which looked odd) and then onto Moab - on a very straight, incredibly baron road .... then we reached Moab.

We pulled up at the RV park Rob had booked and gassed up - the camp wasn't the one he'd thought he'd booked (from pictures) and it was full of ATV's and Dirt Bikes. So we drove on closer to Moab to a
classier RV park just on the outside of town. And that's where we are now.

More details to come and check out the photo's on Flickr.

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