Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Backpacking in Coyote Gulch

We had the amazing opportunity to go backpacking with all of Chris' siblings and their spouses and his parents...without kids...for 3 days in the middle of nowhere Southern Utah.   It was awesome! My mom was super kind and flew out to UT to watch our kids at my brother's house.  Chris' parents were also super kind and accumulated all the necessary gear for us. Their pool table was covered in newly packaged backpacks, tents, sleeping bags, pads, food, poles, first aide kits, water filters and bottles, camp stoves and propane gas cans. What a beautiful sight.  We gathered around the table two days before to put together our meals: we had rice and chicken with dehydrated veggies and backpacking lasagna (so good).

We dropped chil'ens off with grandmas Wednesday night and left early Thursday morning to make the 4.5 hour drive to Escalante, then another hour drive on a CRAZY washboard dirt road to the trail head.
It was HOT. Seriously it was 100 degrees when we got out of the car. We hiked the first 3 miles through deep sand along a dry riverbed that seemed to have been deprived of water for centuries. I'll be honest, this was NOT my favorite part. As we met the first trickles of water in Coyote Gulch we easily jumped across them as the trails (there were different ways to go that mostly ended up back together again) wound around, over, behind and in front of the stream.  Eventually we had to get our feet wet and then the walk in the deep sand every other bend in the river was even more uncomfortable. Chris was gallant and tried to keep my feet dry for as long as possible by standing in the water to act as a launching support helping me jump across.

We hiked for 4.5 hours and were pretty darn tired and ready to make camp but after a little break decided to keep going till we got closer to Jacob Hamblin Arch. An hour later we made it! We set up tents under the arch and took off our wet shoes to walk barefoot in the now a bit bigger stream. Our first night was SO hot, I didn't really sleep until 4:00am.
Edward climbed up under the arch...can you see him on the left in a blue shirt?

The next day we left our tents and Chris' pack behind and put our lunches, water filter, and other good-to-haves in my pack and traded off wearing it as we hiked 13+  miles down to the Escalante River and back.  We slogged through the water for most of this day except when the water just flat out disappeared in some big rocks we had to climb over. The water levels were way low compared to the last time Chris' dad, mom and brother did this hike a few years ago. What were once waterfalls, were ... not waterfalls. Also we saw some Anasazi drawings.

There was one part where some huge boulders clogged the trail bottom between some pretty steep rock faces where we had to scramble around on a super slanted and sandy slick canyon walls. It was scary but also exhilarating for me.

The "big" Escalante river was knee deep, rocky-bottomed and cold. It was fun to walk upstream to see Stevens Arch.

Back at camp we sat around sweating our eyes out in the sauna-like air and decided to move camp to a cooler bend in the stream and also try and cut down on our hard hike out even though it meant taking down camp and setting it back up again within an hour or two.  We found a coolish spot 90 min away and slept like babies under the stars by a babbling brook.

Considering the fact that Chris tweaked his back again 5 days before the trip and had to be laying flat for two entire days, it was a small miracle that the trip for Chris and I was fairly pain free (aside from sore, sore muscles) Thank you, Ibuprofen! But others of our group did get pretty bad blisters the first day and had to walk on through the pain. Brave souls! The hike out the next day was uneventful, except for the part where Chris, Thom and his Brittany and I got lost. We climbed out of the canyon and had a look around. I had the brilliant idea to try for a maybe sure-fire shortcut over the bluffs but it got voted down.

The last 3 miles through that desert hot sand was, again, not my favorite part...but the physical workout, fun, positive, and funny company, starry nights, beautiful scenery and peace & quiet was. Well, if I had to choose one, for this posts' purposes, I would say my favorite part was Edward. He was so fun to be around, and Chris had lots of good questions for him. We would send him up ahead on the trails to find out which one was the easiest way across obstacles and he'd be right there for an extra hand/leverage on scary jumps. He'd  grab everyone's bottles and filter like a machine.  I'm so happy he's back.

We all wanted to have Edward to our selves for a few days to spend time with him and hear more about his mission as it comes across in everyday conversations. We also wanted some time with each other, away from kids, and away from the usual distractions.  I'd say these all happened and therefore this trip was a smashing success.  I can't wait for our next backpacking adventure, whenever that is...I'd like to try a location not so hot and not so sandy. 


Katie B. said...

Hooray for Coyote Gulch! My family has done that one a few times, and we love it. Too bad it was so hot and the water levels were so low. We did the round trip way where you scramble out up this steep hill with hand- and foot-holds carved into it by Anasazis and then you walk across the hot flat top back to your car.

MandaMommy said...

They should have tried your over the bluff route! :o) How fun! Next time you should try Kings Canyon. (I know, it does happen to be the only place I've backpacked for more than one night...but it IS beautiful, stunning really, and not super hot southern Utah style.) Great job!

brittany said...

you captured the trip so well. Hope you don't mind, but I am totally stealing some of your pictures to add to my blog. Yours turned out so much better than mine.

Anonymous said...

I really really love this! I hope to go backpacking next summer, this really made me want to. :) Thanks for sharing.