Monday, September 8, 2008

Peek-a-boo and Spooky

Yesterday we went down Cottonwood Canyon Narrows, a nice tall slot canyon that was walkable and dry for a change. We enjoyed the easy walk and exploring the keyhole, a giant cave-like divet cut into the wall. Then we went up-canyon and found an even more exciting narrow route through and over big rocks with more twisty passages and caves. It seemed that each slot canyon hike was getting better and this would have to start to get boring at some point.

So today we headed out to Escalante, the town, and went 26 bumpy miles down the washboard they call Hole in the Rock Road. We went to find Peek-a-Boo and Spooky, 2 slots not in our book. Everyone else was there too - the parking lot was full of cars in contrast to previous hikes where we were practically alone. We found the first slot full of mud and quicksand. We weren't able to get into it although I managed to sink one foot pretty deep, testing out the sands. We found Peek-a-Boo next and a huge pool followed immediately by tiny steps cut into the rock prevented us and apparently everyone else from entering the main entrance. We hiked up and around and got into an extremely twisty slot canyon. The floor was non-existent: the walls ended in a V at the ground. There were circular windows and doorways to walk through and the walls were so tight only Leo could get through at the base and that was with a lot of effort. We had to scale up the walls where the passage was wider to get through. We met a bunch of folks who were greatly impressed with Leo's climbing ability and most said we'd never make it through Spooky with a child, let alone our big backpack.

We explored Peek-a-Boo up and down and then hiked in the hot sun and desert sands over to Spooky. As I've mentioned, one of the great things about these canyons is the escape from the sun and heat. Spooky felt VERY claustrophobic and a lot more like spelunking. We were in tortuously twisty passages. Each step was around a twisty wall. At one point, hikers in the opposite direction yelled out to us because there was no way to pass each other and turning around was also difficult. Actually just hiking through was tricky and we are all small people. The walls were pretty high too so you didn't really want to hang out in any one place in the twisty parts. There was a spot where many BIG boulders had gotten stuck and downclimbing was tricky. We had to find a little hole and then all squeeze through one at a time.

It was a crazy hike. The narrowness and twistiness was extremely fun, a little scary, and very exciting. We did make it through both slots with Leo just fine. Leo did better than a lot of the adults we met. You'd be amazed at the things he can scale up or jump down (like 1.5 times his height). He was probably more engaged on this hike than any other. It was like a giant maze for people.

The weatherman is predicting possible thundershowers in the next couple days, so I think this is the end of our slots. There are some nice waterfalls and then Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, etc before we head home, but I think this has been one of the great highlights of our trip. It's hard to imagine hiking a boring trail in a forest or mountaintop when you could be scampering over rocks in a slot canyon.

Paul has a couple thousand pictures to sort through for posting. Stay tuned.

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