I took Friday off from work so I could go on another solo arch hunting trip. (David was on-call that weekend.) I headed out Thursday after work and slept in the Explorer that night just outside the entrance to Natural Bridges National Monument.
Early the next morning, I drove down to the trailhead for Owl Canyon on Cedar Mesa. By 7:00 am I was on the trail down into Owl Canyon and heading for Nevills Arch, some 3.5 miles down the canyon.
The initial drop off into Owl Canyon was rougher and steeper than I expected. The trail passes several restored Indian cliff houses and granaries.
The trail at the bottom was very pleasant as it headed eastward down the canyon. Walking under the cottonwood trees early in the morning before it was hot was quite a pleasure. There was even a little water running in the drainage.
I got to the first waterfall and found that the depth of the canyon doubled. There I ran into a family camping at the base of the waterfall. I ran into a bunch more campers near the second waterfall and a boy scout group just before I got to Nevills Arch. This seems to be a popular canyon.
[The complete canyon hike on this trail goes 7 miles down Owl Canyon until it joins Fish Springs Canyon. It is then a 6 mile hike up Fish Springs Canyon and another 2 miles back to the trailhead.]
Nevills Arch was nice but it was hard taking pictures into the sun. Even so, it was a large class ‘A’ arch and worthy of the hike.
It was beginning to warm up and I wasn’t looking forward to the hike out in the heat.
Once on top again, I did take a hike to the edge of Fish Spring Canyon to take pictures of a natural arch located near the top of the canyon. Fish Springs arch turned out to be a class ‘C’ sized arch.
I then found the hike back to the trailhead to be one of the toughest I had experienced before. I was exhausted and a little ill by the time I got to sit in my vehicle and rest.
I drove east to Blanding and got one of the few remaining rooms in town at the Prospector Motel. It seems that the tourist season has already hit this area and all of the motels in town were filling up quickly. I spent the rest of the day and night laying on the bed and drinking water. By morning, I was feeling great again.
Now I was heading to Alkali Canyon east of Blanding to locate a natural bridge. I drove to an old well site and began hiking down a side canyon which soon joined Alkali Canyon. It was then a fairly easy task to hike up the canyon to another side canyon and claw through the brush a short distance to the bridge. It was a nice class ‘B’ size bridge that I called Alkali Canyon Bridge. Even the couple of mile hike back to the vehicle didn’t seem too strenuous.
Since I still had a big part of the day left, I drove back to Cedar Mesa and followed some jeep trails which took me to the northeast side of Fish Spring Canyon. I had the approximate area for an arch that was supposed to be there. I had to hike just over a mile to the rim from my Explorer in an area that would have made it hard to find my way back again. I depended heavily on capturing the Explorer’s position on my GPS system and then follow it back again. I had to hurry my hike to the rim since the sun was heading down. I did find the arch which turned out to be a narrow crack on the rim, transforming an alcove into a natural arch of a kind. I declared it to be a class ‘C’ Arch.
I was standing at the rim trying to take a picture when I dropped my lens cap and it rolled off the edge. It took me a while to find another crack to climb down to reach the level of my lens cap. As I was climbing back up again, I realized how tired I really was. I quickly hiked back towards the Explorer but missed it by several hundred yards. I had to use the GPS to lace the vehicle after several panicky minutes of confusion caused by exhaustion. It was then a long drive out to the main road as the sun set.
I headed for home in Utah Valley but only made it to an area between Green River and Price when I couldn’t drive any further. I pulled off in the cedars and made my bed in the back of the Explorer again. The next morning I drove to Price for breakfast and was home again by noon.
That night I was really sick to my stomach including chills and muscle aches. I don’t know whether it was heat exhaustion, something I ate, or a flu bug. I went to work on Monday morning mostly ill but I probably wasn’t the only person ‘hungover’ from the weekend.