Our relaxed afternoon in Moab was to be a short-lived stretch of leisure. We hit the road well before sunrise the following morning to ensure we fit in a day full of “parklife” prior to our next snoozing point near Bryce Canyon. This was my driving shift, and imagine my thrill at hitting the Utah interstate and seeing a posted speed limit of 80 mph!
So cruise I so-oh did, through the flat, desolate terrain that is I70, passing fewer cars than I have fingers for 2+ hours. But there was no doubting when we had neared our destination, as the strange rock formations soon surrounded us as we began winding again towards Capitol Reef National Park.
With limited time, we chose to trek the Hickman Bridge Trail, a popular but totally interesting trail that leads to a large landbridge (think arch). On the initial climb, the trail is littered with dark, round, volcanic rocks, from some era of the apparently wide-ranging history of everything geologic in Utah. You then shift to smoother, lighter colored rock and slickrock prior to your arrival at the landbridge, an impressive feature that you’re able to appreciate better by walking underneath. Returning to our gas engine, we finished our tour of Capitol Reef’s progressively deep red rock formations that are surrounded by signs of erosions and “washes.” Rather than a stream, these widened “ditches” are dry until an infrequent desert rainstorm sends water (without a better place to be absorbed) rushing in.
Almost as quickly as we had to rush out, because our travels were leading us away from Capitol Reef, but not without a detour. Calf Creek Recreation Area is what those of us from wetter climates might understand to be an oasis in the desert environment. Utah’s remarkably fluctuating landscape led us from CR to green mountains and then back down through scenic, rock-encircled highways until we arrived at Calf Creek to embark upon our longest (so far) hike of the trip. And each of the just over six miles was worth it: what a remarkable mix of desert sands and lush vegetation it turned out to be, and all for the spectacular final Lower Calf Creek Falls. The stream you follow for all three miles turns into a gorgeous waterfall painting the side of a sheer dropoff from above, and forms a swimming hole below (shout out to the lady who voluntarily gave us a beer while we were there!). I’ll add no more words about that, but hope to get more pictures up soon enough…
So anyhow…one half day driving trip and I have used way too many words once again. After that hike, we rolled into happening Tropic, Utah, and stayed in possibly the coziest little log cabin, our push-off point to Bryce Canyon National Park…..