Capitol Reef and Calf Creek

Trip Start Apr 23, 2009
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Trip End May 02, 2009


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Flag of United States  , Utah
Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Today is another packed day. I really wanted this trip to be a relaxed, take our time vacation. Somehow, it just never works out that way.

I'm blaming it on the National Parks Visitor Centers.

It's their fault that they have so much information at their Centers. And they really try to make you do everything in their brochures...well they don't exactly tell you to, but when you ask "what shoudl we do?" Those well trained people grab their maps and start circling or hi-lighlight everything.

Ask them about a scenic walk and you end up with at least 5 "must dos."

Petroglyphs, yep we got them. And they have the 100 Hands pictographs. Historic houses or museums...they are being marked. Aong with hiking trails.

So, we jump in the car and go in search of the petroglyphs near Calf Creek. 

Our map is marked. Well, sort of. We have to pull off the road. We'll see a fence. We go over it. Then look up to the rocks (solid rocks and boulders). We go up the rocks. Then at the top, or what we think is the top, follow the path and it will take you to them. 

Gary takes a look at the "rocks." Pronounces them boulders. Says his back will not let him do this.

He gives me the "Are you going to be stupid and do this look."  OK, I know I have some back and neck problems. But I'm thinking that if there was an emergency, a Lifeflight Helicopter can get me out of there. I know those guys have a lot of experience, and they must enjoy an adrenalin rush every so often. 

First I have to climb over very large boulders. Gary helps me up the first, and the rest is on my own. He waves me off. Or maybe he's thinking this is goodbye??? 

At the top of the rocks are lots of paths. All marked with cairns. There is also a small dry wash. I think I remember her saying something about the wash, so I followed it. Then turned around and went up one of the paths to a large rock face.

I'm yelling from the plateau to signal Gary that I made it. Can't hear him answer, so I continue on,

Sweating, forgetting to bring water which was so dumb, I dropped down on a rock and wondered...not for the first time, why I decide I must make certain things a mission.  And are there any snakes up here, cause that is my biggest fobia. 

I turn left and follow another path around a large rock face. There are some petroglyphs!!!!! I've got my camera out and am snapping away.

Then continue on a path to the left, thinking they have to be close. No luck. The sun is now baking my body and the long sleeve shirt I have on is drenched. I hate admitting defeat, but getting a few photos is not defeat. It's just a reason to go back to the visitor's center and get better directions.

Getting down is worse than going up. I'm protecting my camera at all costs. Gary is standing below me shaking his head. The large boulder I climbed up on somehow lost it's toe grips. Being under 5 feet tall does at times have its disadvantages.

I drop my camera to Gary. He climbs up further to help me down. 

Did I get the photos he asks? Yep. I got them.  Well, at this point, I am not going to say I didn't get the 100 hands....yet. He'll know when I have the albumn completed. Or maybe, he won't notice them missing.

In the air conditioned car to cool off then we're headed to Calf Creek Recreatiion Area. 

This is one area that I didn't know about, but last night at dinner, I overheard some hikers talking about it. So, I listened in and then joined their conversation. Said it's a close canyonlike area with a flat trail back to the waterfall. They hadn't hiked it before, so didn't have to much information. 

Well, waterfalls are good. So it went on our list. 

The hike is level. Kids to senior citizens would like it. But we didn't get the whole way back to the waterfall. Ran out of time. It's only 6 miles roundtrip...but Capital Reef was a real must do on our list.

We've got to get to Capital Reef today. No time to fit it in tomorrow. 

Capitol Reef is unbelievable. It combines history with hiking trails. On site is a Mormon school house dating from the 19th century. A blacksmith shop dates from the Mormon pioneer days. The Gifford homestead has demonstrations along with a tour of the house.

The homestead is our favorite. You can get a cup of ice cream for $1.00. We stopped here on the way back for a second cup. 

Coming into the Park, we were amazed by the rock formations and layers of color.  Once inside the Park, you get a feeling of intamacy. The park is small, but the rock formations that surround you are amazing. Layer after layer of colors add to the uniqueness of the formations.

The Scenic Drive takes you thru tight canyons to a pull off for the Golden Throne trail

A small Rangers station is here. It's a short distance to the Petroglyphs on the left side, and the names of long-ago travelers located high on the wall further down on the right. No one knows how these men were able to carve their names in the rock. One theory says the were expert riflemen, and they "shot" their names in the rock. 

Since non of the Park Rangers can give me the accurate answer. I'm going with the gun theory.  Now if the Park Service ever gets a huge endowment, it could be used to determine how they did get there.
P.S. If Bill Gates or Warren Buffett is reading this...please consider it.

Capitol Reef has to be one of my favorite National Parks. It's one I would come back to and hike the trails that lead you to overlooks, remote canyons, natural arches and slickrock wilderness. We only experienced a very small section of the Park. Next time, it's a SUV or Jeep. You really need one to get to the prime viewing areas. 

     
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