Monday, August 20, 2007

Utah Day 4 - Westward Transition

Wednesday was a long day. It was very hot in the tent Tuesday night and I had a tough time falling asleep, and then I had insomnia and woke up at 5:30. One of the things one is meant to do when staying at Dead Horse Point State Park is see the sunrise/sunset. We missed the sunset due to the storms Tuesday evening, but I was awake to appreciate the sunrise. Since I was already up I walked over to the edge of the canyon and waited for the sun to come up, along with two mule deer who chomped away on their breakfast like I wasn’t even there. You know how sunsets happen pretty quickly once they get going? Sunrises are slower. Sadly I didn’t have the camera, but the sunrise was quite nice. After breakfast we broke camp and went to see the views from Dead Horse Point itself. Here is the story of the park, from the park website. "Before the turn of the century, mustang herds ran wild on the mesas near Dead Horse Point. The unique promontory provided a natural corral into which the horses were driven by cowboys. The only escape was through a narrow, 30-yard neck of land controlled by fencing. Mustangs were then roped and broken, with the better ones being kept for personal use or sold to eastern markets. Unwanted culls of "broomtails" were left behind to find their way off the Point. According to one legend, a band of broomtails was left corralled on the Point. The gate was supposedly left open so the horses could return to the open range. For some unknown reason, the mustangs remained on the Point. There they died of thirst within sight of the Colorado River, 2,000 feet below." The views were quite nice, so perhaps that's why the horses stayed? I think the vistas rival anything we saw at Canyonlands. Our plan today was to take the scenic route to Bryce Canyon National Park, with a lunch stop at Capital Reef National Park. We saw many interesting rock formations on the way, but I don’t have any photos because at some point you have to stop pulling off the road every time you see something interesting, and we had reached that point the previous afternoon. One of the interesting things we saw was a tiny cabin from the 1800s, which I swear couldn’t have been more than 10x10’ but in which 10 people had lived. I can’t figure out how they could have fit on the floor to sleep! Incredible how different things are today, at least in most places. We didn’t really see much of Capital Reef, but we did see some petroglyphs, and there were some impressive rock formations. Fruita is an old Mormon settlement along the river that runs through the park, and the early settlers planted hundreds of fruit trees, which are still there and available for public picking. My mother picked some peaches, and perhaps the best part of the park was eating lunch in a shaded grove of huge cottonwood trees. On our way out of the park we stopped at the Goosenecks Overlook, which looks down on Sulphur Creek. We then drove over a 9000+ foot pass and descended into Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. If you click on that link, you can see the part we saw, which was the stretch of Highway 12 from Boulder to Tropic. My recollection of this is a bit hazy because I kept falling asleep in the car (having gotten hardly any sleep the night before), but what I saw of it was quite beautiful. It stormed off and on, including while we were driving across a knife-edge ridge that was really only wide enough for the 2-lane road. I would not want to be piloting a giant RV through there, I tell you. We drove to Bryce hoping to get rooms at Ruby’s Inn, just outside the park, but they were all full and we ended up driving back to Tropic and staying at the Pioneer Village Motel, which was serviceable though by no means luxurious. So, today was a transitional day and I’m sorry if it wasn’t as interesting as the others, but tomorrow Bryce Canyon will knock your socks off!

1 comment:

Ahna said...

Hmmmm...brings back my old backpacking/mountain climbing days...sigh. Gorgeous pictures!