Thursday after work, I loaded up my family of wife and two girls (our son is still on a church mission to Brazil) and headed south on I-15 with my tent trailer in tow. We made it as far as Beaver Utah where we stopped at a KOA campground for the night.
The next day, we completed our drive to Bryce Canyon National Park and pulled into campsite #4 in the “North Campground”. After we got the tent trailer set up, it started to rain — and it rained a good part of the afternoon.
When the rain finally did break, we hurried over to Sunrise Point for a quick look. However, the women folk were all tired and grumpy so it wasn’t much fun. And it was cold! (I had been afraid that it was going to be too hot even here!) I finally left them at the trailer and drove over to Sunset Point where I hiked down the Navajo Loop Trail for a distance.
The hike took me to Two Bridges and several other class ‘C’ natural arches. It was a nice hike though a little cool and muddy. (I hadn’t thought to even bring a jacket.) This was a nice warm-up hike for what I wanted to do on Saturday.
After supper, we started a campfire and roasted marshmallows for ‘smores’. We all went to bed a little sticky.
The next morning, I left the rest of the family asleep in the tent trailer and headed for Escalante, about 45 miles east of there. From Escalante, I took the Hole-in-the-Rock road south for about 25 miles where I then took a dirt trail heading eastward to the area called ‘Egypt’. A trailhead for the Escalante River and Canyon (about 3 1/2 miles away) begins here. Unfortunately, the first half-mile of hiking is off the edge and down about 600 feet of steep paths down the cliffs. That meant a long climb coming back.
I dropped off the edge and made my way down. However, at the bottom of the steep incline, there was no clear trail so I just took off cross country to the east. I hiked along the south edge of Fence Canyon until it dropped off into the deep part of the canyon. This is where I found Fence Canyon Arch, a nice class ‘B’ arch located in a narrow part of the upper canyon. It was nice and cool there — unlike the hiking out in the nearby sand dunes.
From here I could see three alcoves that could possibly have been natural arches. It would have required too much effort to check them out so I didn’t.
I continued hiking east until I could look down into Escalante Canyon with Neon Canyon directly across the river from me. Now I needed the trail since it looked like I was cut off by cliffs below me. Now I was a long way from the Explorer, 2/3 of my water was gone, it was hotter than what is safe to hike in, and I didn’t have a safe way to get down the cliffs. I thought of using the Escalante River water for drinking but a quick look through my binoculars showed the river running about the color of chocolate milk. Apparently, there had been heavy rains upstream over the last few days.
Hot and tired, I turned around and headed back to my vehicle. The last 1/2 mile to the top turned out to be as difficult as I had feared it would be. I was sure the climb was going to leave me ill. At the Explorer, there was only a small container of now hot water. That got me to Escalante where I got a fountain drink with lots of ice. That got me back to Bryce Canyon and the campground where I found the family working on a campfire to cook dinner on. It took a while to get it going since it had rained while I was gone.
We headed for home the next day. Monday is the first day of school and my wife has to go back to work. It looks like this summer is quickly coming to a close.