Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chimney Rock, Capitol Reef National Partk

Lichen encrusting a north-facing rock along the Chimney Rock Trail. This is the largest lichen I have ever seen--easily a foot across; I should have added an object for perspective.
Beginning of the Chimney Rock Trail. The snowcapped mountain in the background is the "Boulder Mountain" section of the Aquarius Plateau.

The Chimney Rock Trail is a 4-mile loop that climbs a series of steep switchbacks to the top of a plateau above the scenic Chimney Rock, and then winds through desert habitat. This was the most strenuous trail we attempted during our visit to Capitol Reef National Park. The only portion that was really strenuous was the climb up the switchbacks; once on top, the trail proved easy walking.
Chimney Rock, viewed from halfway to the top of the steep switchbacks.
Again, Boulder Mountain is visible in the background.
Mid-morning light is not particularly flattering
Looking down (and westward) onto Chimney Rock from the plateau above.
The road is UT 24, the main road through Capitol Reef
View east from the vantage point just above Chimney Rock. UT 24 is heading into the main part of Capitol Reef National Park, just around the bend.
View north from the Chimney Rock vantage point, with the Sulfur Creek Goosenecks in the foreground and "Boulder Mountain" in the back.
As were all the trails in Capitol Reef National Park when we visited in mid- to late-May, the desert was abloom along the Chimney Rock Trail.

Above is an image of the second of the two most wondrous plants I saw during my visit to southern Utah. I don't know if these plants have flowered, are yet to flower, or actually are in flower. I wonder if the swollen red neck at the top of the stalk is the plant's ovary? I stopped at the Capitol Reef Visitor Center after the walk to review their public herbarium collection, but three "stoners" were there discussing the virtues of Jimson weed, and I couldn't get access to the plant specimens without a prolonged wait.

Midway through the Chimney Rock hike, at the northernmost point of the loop, the trail intersects with an informal trail that leads through Spring Canyon. We walked a short distance downstream in beautiful Spring Canyon, but the bed of the wash became increasingly difficult to navigate because of huge boulder and tree trunk jams.
In Spring Canyon

Beginning the descent on the Chimney Rock Trail switchback, back to the trailhead.Chimney Rock in best light. The "rock" formed from erosion of the chocolate layer cake Moenkopi Formation.

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