Saturday, September 6, 2008

Navigating the slot canyons

I've always wanted to see the slot canyons - the yellow orange sandstone that is narrowly and deeply cut by desert flash floods. We made it to Escalante National Monument yesterday and have been having the time of our lives hiking slot canyons.

Yesterday we went to Willis wash. From the trailhead, a normal dusty path through a scubby desert, there is some white slickrock and a tiny stream running down it cutting a beautiful curvy slot in the white rock. Leo was squealing happy - he loved wading in the mini stream of water in the canyon. I loved the cool escape from the heat. Paul was in photographic heaven. We didn't make it very far as Leo managed to get soaked and ended up hiking naked which made him even happier and Paul and I were videoing and photographing everything in sight even though the light was too harsh and the lenses weren't wide enough.

We're camping in Kodachrome Basin which has free hot showers! And is extremely picturesque with great colorful spires and rock formations. This entire area is incredibly beautiful. We can't believe we,ve been to so many places out west and especially in Utah and yet this is our first slot canyon experience.

Today we drove 3 hours to get to our hike in Buckskin Gulch, one of the wolrd's most famous slot canyons. This was a Navajo sandstone canyon, very red and orange, like the pictures that made this area famous. We wound our way through slots so narrow you could pratically touch both shoulders to the walls. And the canyon looms 100 feet above your head. It gets deeper - up to 500 feet later but we didn't make it that far. There's a bunch of boulder jams where you have to down climb over big rocks that are stuck in the narrow slots. In the gulch there were lots of cold pools of muddy water to wade through which made hiking incredibly slow. Again, Leo loved the wading and got very wet. Paul loved the dried mud patterns. It was a great adventure. There were some old hieroglyphs on the walls - some deer and people and family trees.

Tomorrow we'll try for cottonwood Narrows and there's more slots near Escalante that we hope to hit.

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