Utah...

No, I'm just 5'8".                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Yeah, that was a groaner.

But today was not a groaner for me. I had an excellent day of exploring!

To begin my day, which initially was unstructured, I stopped at the Kanab, Kane County Tourism office. This area is rich in things to do, historic sites, natural beauty, hiking and terrific exploring and adventuring. The women in the tourist office offered a lot of information on some natural formations I wanted to see, plus more about the "Cowboy Legends" festival that begins tomorrow in Kabab. Apparently Kanab, UT is also known as "Little Hollywood" where a large number of movies have been filmed, the first with cowboy actor Tom Mix in 1924 and the most recent "John Carter" a Disney film that mostly takes place on another planet. Once you have seen some of the natural formations up here you can understand why they like the areas here for many types of movies.

I am thinking about hanging around another day to see the beginning of their "Cowboy Legends" event, but really do want to spend at least two days at Toroweap so that I can try to find and photograph the ancient Indian rock art at Shaman's Gallery. That is one of the places I wanted information on at the tourist office, and another, Piute Cave, which also has painted rock art. The person who had information (Gerre) was not available until this afternoon, so I opted to drive east to the Paria Canyon area and get information from the Ranger office there. It was 40 miles, but I got a whole load of more information which helped me plan my days' adventures.

First I trekked into an area to see "toadstools" (some as seen here). I spent about an hour there. These interesting rock formations are formed as the softer layers of rock erode and the harder layers stay intact. Thus the "topper" being a harder material, actually protects that column of, otherwise, softer rock. Quite a balancing act, and so much like some other worldly landscape. I can see why formations like these would prompt this area for some far off planet movies.

One of the other places I wanted to check out is near "The Wave", a place I visited in 2009. The Wave is just over the border into Arizona, but the place I wanted to see today is just north and still in Utah. And those places are slot canyons, which I also learned are in abundance up here.

To reach these remote areas, both The Wave and the slot canyon one must take a rather rough, unpaved road, Houserock Road. Turning South off US 89, onto Houserock Rd, I slowly drove back in about 5 miles and turned at the sign, Buckskin Gulch. 

Rain was in the forecast, and the warning at the head of the road cautions that it is impassable when wet. So I was mindful of some dark clouds to the West and certainly did not wish to get stuck back in the outback. 

At the trailhead to Buckskin Gulch and the trail to the slot canyons, a man was pumping up the tires on his Explorer. He told me he had been driving in sand and deflated them to allow better handling, but now it was mostly (MOSTLY, I repeat) solid stone road surface. I headed on the trail to see if I just might get to where the slot canyon began. Crossing a meadow area, the trail eventually fed into the dry creek, then narrowed between two huge red rock hills and then through even more fantastic rock formations, similar to what is found near the Wave.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

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More photos show the interesting swirls and convoluted shapes as I ventured, deeper and deeper into the wilderness, still following the dry creek bed.

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As I further followed the creek trail, hoping that it would soon narrow and start to become the slot canyon, I was, as well, looking over my shoulder to keep an eye on possible rain. A person does not want to be caught in a dry creek bed if rain begins or if it rains upstream, and unbeknownst to the hiker. Upstream rains can quickly pour a flood downstream and come in a torrent that will wash everything away as it forcefully flows in the open channel. So, not wanting to get caught in a washout nor get trapped on an impassable, wet road, and not seeing any possibility of the creek narrowing into a slot canyon, I thought it best to make haste and get back to the main road before it might start to rain. 

I'd hiked in for about 45 minutes, and surely covered more than one mile, but I picked up the pace on the return and was back to the car in less than a half hour. And, luckily, the rain clouds were heading further north east. Still, I was thrilled to have even a brief hike in Buckskin Gulch and would love to return with friends another time when we can go much deeper and then into the slot canyons. I think I have a few friends, in mind who are going to be stoked about this place…

Heading back to Kanab, I decided to check out another remote location, Old Paria, where several Western movies had been filmed and where an actual town existed at one time. All the buildings have been destroyed, but, once down into the valley, I was stunned to see the multi-colored mountain sides that once were the backdrop for the old town.

The only remaining evidence of a town is a cemetery. I followed the "road" further into the valley, but it started to get sandy and was actually the riverbed, I believe. Some spots were partially washed away and then the sandy places put me on edge. I stopped, turned around and made my escape before I got myself in a terrible fix. It was not difficult to end that part of the day's adventure and get back to US 89. It was obvious from my car tracks that I had been the only one to venture down there all day. My take on Paria town is to skip it. It's not worth the effort, except for the fantastic mountainside colors.

On the return drive to Kanab, it did rain a bit, but cleared up before I hit town. Once in town I went back to the tourist office and  met Gerre, who was very helpful. At 76 he has seen and done a lot of exploring and discovery of ancient Indian sites and  artifacts. Piute Cave is one place he has visited and drew me a map to help locate it on my own. He showed me several places on the Utah map that he thinks would interest me. Those will have to wait until another trip, however. 

Today had me feeling very upbeat for another reason… my legs and knees did not ache or cause me any discomfort. Now I'm feeling better able to tackle some longer hikes, like discovering those rock art sites on the Arizona Strip. The last several days of rest and minimum walking have obviously helped to get me back to what I like best - to get out and explore!


kdonald940@cox.net © Donald E. Kline 2012                                         Disqus Comments