Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Grand Wash, Capitol Reef National Park

Grand Wash (Note the hikers for scale)

Our stroll through Grand Wash was the last of our Capitol Reef National Park hikes. It was an easy walk, but the scale of the canyon was awe-inspiring. Grand Wash is only one of three canyons penetrating the Waterpocket Fold and, though it is almost flat, it was never used for transportation like the Fremont River canyon or the Capitol Gorge canyon because (1) it becomes too narrow in places, and (2) the mouth of the Grand Wash canyon disgorges into the Fremont River canyon, so why not just use the Fremont River canyon in the first place.

I really liked this formation, sort of a swirl of sandstone topped with a rock cherry.

Midway through the hike, at the Narrows, I suggested to my wife that she walk on to the mouth of Grand Wash and I would forego exploring the rest of the canyon, retrace my steps, get the car, and pick her up a the junction of the Grand Wash and the Fremont River canyon on UT 24. She agreed. As it turned out, we could probably have both completed the trail and retraced our steps since she arrived at the mouth of the canyon long before I did to pick her up.

More Moenkopi Formation spires and sunny composites

The Fremont River and domes opposite the mouth of the Grand Wash where I picked up my hiking partner.

Trying to maintain her stance and her hat in the gale-force wind, my wife stood stride the Velvet Cliffs Trail.

After we left the park, we had a few hours before dinner and decided to check out a trail along a cliff edge on BLM lands west of the town of Torrey, UT. The escarpment is known locally as the Velvet Cliffs. The trail is actually a sanctioned ATV/mountain biking/equestrian/hiking trail, so it's not in great condition. Nevertheless, we ascended the trail to the cliff top and walked for a short distance along the trail. We probably would have gone longer, but it was incredibly windy--so windy that it was difficult to stand. In addition, it was cold, and we weren't dressed for the weather.
An assortment of colors and textures atop the Velvet Cliffs

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