Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Epic 5 of..

From Dead Horse Point we headed a little further West by Southwest. Our next destination was to be Kodachrome Basin State Park. Kodachrome would be our three day, home base to see Bryce and the local environs. I chose a road that appeared to be rather direct. Utah12. This road meanders through Canyon Lands, Capital Reef, and Grand Escalante. Three of the Big 5, how awesome!?! Along the way we could see Goblin State Park. What could go wrong?

Goblin Valley is a very interesting place. You might remember the name form a year or so back when some frat boy type filmed himself rolling one of the boulders off its perch. This is where that happened.

I will say it is a long drive out to here. The sun is also in full control here so if you visit, bring a lot of water.

The landscape is rather surreal. Once you are down in the hoodoos, it is very easy to get disoriented and turned around. 

I must say this is one the oddest landscapes I have ever walked through.

We continued on  towards Escalante and eventually Kodachrome. Here is where the trip got a little uncomfortable for me. The night before we had gotten into a conversation with a man in the campground. We were talking about where we had been and where we were going. The conversation was mostly between this man and Beth. I was thinking about all the things I needed to do to get an early start from the campground.  The man was telling Beth about this awful road that went up and down and back up and down. It had numerous switch backs and severe grades. He told us how he would never consider towing a trailer over this road. He said he probably wouldn't even take his own car over this road because of all the switch backs and tremendous elevation gains and losses. I heard very little of it since I was thinking of other things.

We got back out on Utah12 and after a mile there was a sign; 'NO SERVICES FOR THE NEXT 100 MILES' As I read the sign I heard the voice of the man at the campground. A few miles later I passed a road sign 'UTAH12'. As I read it, I once again heard him in my head and it all sank in. I had taken the road he was warning us about. 

This was taken at the second 9500 foot overlook on this road. We had to stop and give the mighty Dodge a rest. She was not very happy with the amount of stress we put her through. The hardest thing about this road is the switch backs. At times we went around curves so tight that I could look out and inspect my bumper. Going up hill, each one is like starting from zero. 
Always listen to your elders...

Eventually we made it to Kodachrome Basin State Park. I really needed a beer. You have to drive two towns away to buy it in Tropical. Yep, the town is called Tropical. It is Mormon beer, 3.2. I had several, and a shot of shine.

I have said it before, state parks are the way to go. Kodachrome Basin is probably one of the nicest state parks we have ever stayed at. The facilities are 5 star. The sites are very big. The bathhouses are completely modern and super clean. Utah takes great pride in it's parks and it shows. 

Of all the places we hiked in Utah we found the ones in this park to be our favorite. The trails take you past all the glory you see in all the national parks with zero crowds. I wish we had not waited until our last day to hike the park. 

I have to put Kodachrome Basin into the top 5 places we have camped. I highly recommend the place as a jump off point to see the area. To Bryce, the drive is about 20 minutes. Everyone has to see Bryce. Zion is about one hour fifteen. 

Bryce National Park is one of those places everyone wants to see. Thousands of people converge on this park daily. GET HERE EARLY if you want to see the landscape and not the tourists. 

The landscape here looks like it belongs in a Dali painting. The rock looks to be melting away. 

The trails are all very well worn. No matter where you go you will see lots of people. Getting as far from the cars as possible did not work well here since even the longest trail is not really all that long. The back country permit might let you get away further. We noticed that busses were dropping off their load at one end of the trail we selected and picking up at the other end. The trail above was a line of people an hour after we hiked it.

It really is a beautiful place and I am glad to have it added to my experience list.

Halle has a climbing mentor named Alex. He told her to do a plank for 30 seconds every time she saw a bench. She did.

Drink lots of water. Always drink lots of water.

I had to really work hard to not have people in the photos. I must have taken this shot 15 times just as someone stepped into the frame.

The last day in Western Utah was supposed to be spent at Zion. We decided that we would just pass on the Zion experience. We did not want to wade through the crowds at an even more popular park than Bryce. We had seen enough rock, arches, and hoodoos for a little while. Everyone wanted to get to New Mexico so we shoved off a day early. This did mean that after an hour, Anna would be heading East for the first time on this trip.

I have for years wanted to stand in all four states at the Four Corners Monument. We refer to this as a 'Blooming Onion Moment'. I somehow never went to Outback when it was young. I wanted to but it never happened. But, but, but, I finally went to Outback and had the glorious blooming onion. It was so disgusting and so was the rest of the over priced meal. The Four Corners Monument was a complete blooming onion moment. 

It was rather anti climatic. It was also a rather costly experience. A word of caution; if you need fuel make sure it is not on the Navajo Reservation. If you like coffee while you drive, make sure you check the price before you fill your travel mug. The Navajo have had the short end of the stick for a real long time and they are making up for it. Just saying...

From the Four Corners we headed back into Colorado for one night. I opted for a KOA so Halle could have a swimming pool. She got an hour in the pool before thunder shut it down. This was the worst campsite we had on the trip, thank you very much, Roger. There is something about a gravel lot with hook ups that just does not sit right with me. It was just for the night so we made due. Being able to buy beer stronger than 3.2 was nice. 
Did I mention how much I love Colorado? They have it going on. The Cortez KOA, not so much so. 

1 comment:

tinman54 said...

Sounds like an incredible trip, thanks for the all the highlights. The more we read and share in these adventures the more retiring earlier rather then later sounds very appealing! If you are coming through close to St.Paul, Mn. you are welcome to stay with us!