April 26 & 27, 2017
To watch my YouTube Video of this post, click here: Come and Explore With Me as I test out two P.L.B.’s Along Wolverine Loop Road.
After leaving Cottonwood Canyon Road I camped near Escalante for two nights while I restocked on groceries and updated my friends on my travels, and then moved on to the tiny town of Boulder, Utah, along Scenic Hwy 12, in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
I’d decided to go and hike Little Death Hollow or Wolverine Canyon east of Boulder. To get there one has to take The Burr Trail Road for 18.5 miles, through the very scenic Long Canyon, until you come to the sign for West Wolverine Loop Road.
It’s important to be aware that once you leave the paved Burr Trail Road, you need to be ready for anything. If this road is wet, don’t even think about driving it in very far. It’s red dirt and has a good number of bentonite clay spots. DO NOT DRIVE ON WET BENTONITE CLAY…EVER!!! This road also has a very large wash that crosses it, and the road drives in the wash for a short distance, and there is also another section that seems to have permanent running water in it, perhaps there’s a spring nearby, and parts of the road can be very rough, rocky and washboard. What I’m trying to say it that it’s best to have a high clearance vehicle, with at least AWD or preferably 4WD. You might get lucky and drive it when it’s in good condition, but any of the dirt back roads in Utah can change with every rain fall, storm, flash floods, or mud and rock slide. Just be prepared to deal with it or turn back.
Once on Wolverine Loop Road travel in a southwesterly direction, at 5.5 miles bear left, at 10.7 miles you’ll see the trailhead parking for Wolverine Canyon, and at 11.8 miles is the TH for the Wolverine Petrified Wood Natural Area. The TH for Little Death Hollow is at 12.5 miles. But first I decided to hike the Petrified Wood Natural Area.
The main section of wood wasn’t very far down the trail, maybe half a mile or so, but somehow I just blasted right past it and found myself way further down canyon than intended. I had left the badlands behind me and was entering an area where the red rock walls started to rise on either side of me and I was about to turn back when I heard something I didn’t expect.
At first, I thought I was hearing things; that perhaps it was some trick of the wind in the rocks, but as I walked further into the canyon it became clearer and louder. It was incredibly beautiful, and I sat down on a rock and listened to the haunting music echo in an alcove of red rock that the flute player was sitting in. I made a video recording of this beautiful moment in the middle of nowhere and will be sharing it on my YouTube Channel sometime in the future. After listening to the music, I went to meet the musician and his wife. He played some more music and afterward, we hiked back to our vehicles together. Then I showed them another location that they could find tons of petrified wood (she was a geologist), but they had a long drive ahead of them that day and evening and couldn’t stick around for long. We exchanged information, and have stayed in touch.
Some of the best and long lasting friendships I’ve made have been in places in the middle of nowhere, whereas in towns I’ve found it very hard to meet people I have something in common with, and friendships are very hard to find.
It was late afternoon now and I decided to stay where I parked for the night, which was in the same location where I’d almost sat on a rattlesnake the year before. However, later that night I had to move.
I started to get concerned when the skies began to blacken and cloud up quite dramatically, and I suddenly realized that I was basically parked on a little island with three washes surrounding me, and also that the entrance to my little dirt driveway came right out of a bigger wash.
I went for a walk to look at the clouds, and they were ominous.
At this time I was testing out the InReach Explorer+ for Bob Wells and decided to text a friend and ask him if he could check and see what the potential for a flash flood was in my area. (Out here there is no chance of getting a phone signal, but the InReach Explorer works via satellite). He texted me back saying it was only slight. I looked at those clouds again which had got even more threatening looking and decided to use the InReach Device to get the weather forecast directly instead. The results, which came from NOAA and were designed for my exact location, said 60% chance of very heavy rains and flooding due to serious storms passing through. Basically, it was saying it was hit or miss, and I decided not to take any chances. I drove off my potential island, and because the road was already wet and I had no intentions of driving any distance on it, I merely crossed it and pulled up onto a piece of slick rock. No matter what happened, I would be safe there. I wasn’t worried about privacy because this road is so remote it’s rare to see more than a couple of vehicles on it in a day, and no-one would be driving it on this night.
As it turned out, I got lucky. Those storms didn’t dump directly on my location, and all I got was some moderate to heavy rain for a couple of hours. The next morning I waited for the road to dry out, then decided to head out and not risk hiking in a slot canyon. I did go and explore some slick rock and found my way down into a sweet but very short little slot canyon. I couldn’t go up it far though because there were too many chock stones and pour offs, and it would have required technical equipment. The canyon floor was wet and muddy, and I suspect that if I’d decided to hike Little Death Hollow it would have been a muddy mess, with pools to wade through and so on. I’m really not much of one for wading through muddy pools on my own. It can be fun on hot days, with other people, but I have my limits.
I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to hike Little Death Hollow. The last time I came out this way was for the same reason, but bad weather turned me back then as well. (That time I was with a friend and we drove across a piece of wet bentonite clay, I’m telling you it’s VERY scary. What’s that you say? You have 4WD….ha…haaaaaa…hahaaaaahaaaaaaaa). Anyhow, I console myself with the knowledge that these canyons are not going anywhere, and I’ll get another chance another year.
If you’re into geology and adventure, this area is incredible. Petrified wood is everywhere, but please remember that you can’t take any of it with you because it’s all protected. Please leave it for future generations to enjoy, and if you decide to hike in a slot canyon always check the weather first. Flash floods can come from 100-miles away, and it’s just not worth the risk. There have been times I think I’ve been overly cautious, but I’ve watched enough video’s of flash floods happening in places where there has been no rain nearby, and blue skies overhead, to know there are no guarantees. I’d rather be safe than sorry, and even then, there are no guarantees.
I hope you have enjoyed this installment of my travels during the winter of 2016/2017, and hope you’ll continue the journey with me. Please visit the HOME page to find more articles, and feel free to share, sign up and leave a comment. Also please visit my YouTube Channel. Until next time…remember to step outside of your comfort zone as often as possible and watch it grow.
Roxy ~ A Nomad for Nature
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An interesting post, Roxy. I do like geology and learning new places with unique dynamics. I also like music as an art medium and along with my Cordoba Mini guitar I am taking a pair of tin whistles on my new venture delivering motor homes. Eventually I would love to play wooden flute – just love their tone. Looking forward to your video post of the couple with a flute player in the canyon!
Thank you…I’m looking forward to making it, maybe it will be my next one. You musical instrument choices sound interesting. Have fun out there!
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