March 25 – March 29, 2018
I don’t think that a person has to be enamored by geology to appreciate the beauty of nature, but so many people glance and move on, without giving much thought to how it became the way it is. However, I always take my time. I look, meander, potter, think, wonder, gaze in awe, stroll, and scramble. I’ve been to many of these places several times, and I almost always find something new.
I explored some mud cliffs across the way from Catstair Canyon, which is also a fun place to explore. There are some petroglyphs there, and a big pile of cars that actually hold up part of the highway. The parking area for the upper part of the canyon is very tricky to find, because its just a gap in the guardrail, and it’s on a very steep grade in the road on the south side. I made a video of the mud cliffs, and included Catstair Canyon in it, to view the video click here: Exploring Some Mud Cliffs and Catstair Canyon ~ Come Hike With Me
It had been a few years since I’d driven up Skutumpah Road, which runs along the west boundary of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. By the way, the area of Skutumpah is in danger of being ruined by unnecessary and poor management practices by the BLM, if you think its wrong for the BLM to just tear out hundreds (thousands?) of acres of brush and cedar trees for no good reason, please visit The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA.ORG) and fill out a petition to stop the madness, or send money if you can afford to. They are the protectors of this beautiful area, and I thank them so much for their efforts to save one of the last wild places in Utah, but their battles are big and expensive, and they are up against big oil and other non-environmentalists and for-profit corporations, the State and even the BLM itself and more.
Skutumpah Road is a dirt road, but most of it is in fairly good shape. If bad weather is imminent there are some areas that would best be avoided, so always check the weather forecast first, and always obey the speed limit. Excessive speed creates terrible washboard, which may not bother folks in vehicles with amazing super cushy shocks, but for those with stiffer shocks or older vehicles, washboard can make a dirt road very unpleasant, in fact it can be a total nightmare and do a lot of damage to an older vehicle, and peoples false teeth. Please, folks, stop driving so fast on these dirt roads, be considerate of others. Take your time, kick back, relax, you might see some wildlife or something instead of just a blur.
Lick Wash is a beautiful hike, but it’s not really a slot. I met a group of ladies towards the end of this trail and joined them for the hike back to our vehicles. I usually camp at trailheads if permitted, and so far I’ve always been the only one and I’ve been doing this for several years. Of course, I’m always doing these things off-season, it might be different at other times of the year. I’ll camp the night, do the trail that day, then move onto the next place I want to hike, and camp there the night. It was still March, and the temps at night were pretty cool still, but the best thing about spring is that a person knows that each day the weather will get warmer and the day will get longer.
When I travel in the fall it is the opposite, each day gets shorter and colder, and it’s always a gamble on how long the weather will hold out. Of course, spring can also mean rain, and when you’re in Utah or other desert areas (high desert, Sonoran, or whatever) rain can cause huge problems on roads and trails, and put a stop to driving certain roads and slot canyons. Traveling in this manner is always a challenging weather-wise, but it’s a fun one.
After doing Lick Wash, I continued north on Skutumpah Road. I always stop at Bull Valley Gorge. There is a car wedged between the gorge in this canyon. It fell in one year and has never been removed. I really want to hike in Bull Valley Gorge, but when I checked the beginning (top) of the slot, I could get in, but it wasn’t far until there was a downclimb that was beyond me. I would love to do this with an experienced canyoneer or climber, but not alone. Being in a slot canyon of this nature (long, dark and very deep and cold) is truly exciting, but its also just a tad scary, and for myself, more enjoyable with a partner.
A little bit north of Bull Canyon is Willis Creek. The section of road between Lick Wash and Willis Creek goes through some interesting geology, but it’s also a little bit rough, narrow, and windy. I’m not sure it would be a good place for a trailer or any kind of bigger rig.
When I arrived at Willis Creek the camping spot I was hoping to get had two huge trailers in there, and I wondered how on earth they got in, and how would they get out. Fortunately for me, they appeared to be getting ready to leave, so I waited for them and then snagged the only dispersed camping site here. I love this spot because the slot canyon starts to take shape right at the trailhead, and there is nothing more enjoyable than getting up in the morning, making a cup of tea and walking over to the top of the slot and listening to the water trickle through the sandstone. There are tiny waterfalls and pools, and I LOVE it. I hiked down Willis Creek the next day and then stayed there the second night. I was the only one there overnight, and it was a bit like having my own personal retreat.
Above ~ Some shots from Willis Creek
Below ~ Having a beer after the hike in my own private retreat, and a campfire on my first night there.
I’m hoping to make a video of some of the above hikes in the near future, which I will share on my YouTube Channel. Please subscribe and ring my bell, so that you don’t miss any of my hikes, travels, and adventures on the road. Here is the link: A Nomad for Nature ~ YouTube Channel
Until next time, bye for now, OH, and if you’re using a phone to read this keep on scrolling down and look for the MORE TO EXPLORE link which will guide you to a huge array of categories and posts from the past that include How-To’s, Tips, Travel, Tales, Travel, Philosophy, Safety, Poetry and more.
Roxy ~ A Nomad for Nature
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