March 16, 2015

Thwarted by The Maze

A 75 degree forecast for redrock country in March is enough to make a Salt Lake City local roll out.

I threw our junk together while Lisa tried making up work hours for the 6 weeks we spent in Mexico this winter. We've always talked about going into the Maze, but one reason or another we got distracted by all the rad country we drive by to get there. Rad, mostly being Robbers Roost and the San Rafael Swell. This time we were determined to go into the Maze, but hell or highwater usually has a way of being pretty determined too.
I was running around the day before we left when the Hans Flat Ranger Station called to say the Flint trail had a rockfall blocking the road so we'd have to enter from Hite. This phone call saved us a huge amount of driving and is one of the most considerate things I've ever seen any government agency do. After Lisa got off work we gassed up the '77 and rolled south, over the Wasatch, and into the dusty ass wonderful-ness of the petrified desert. About 11:30 that night we turned off the pavement on a little dirt road between the Dirty Devil and Colorado rivers. The beauty of the night was far too nice to be further disturbed with the sound of our machine, so we shut it down in favor of cold beer, and star gazing.
In the info about backroads that I looked up before leaving said it was about 5 hours from Hite to Standing Rocks area. We got an early start and hoped to be hiking by early afternoon. I'd read, from my fellow blogger, that the road through Teapot Canyon was the worst of it, and it was. I was surprised to see how much of a road that the road was not. We made it through Teapot without any damage, but I was pushing it way harder than I wanted to. Even though I had all kinds of tools and spare parts to fix whatever went wrong, it just wasn't that fun to me.

the good part of the "road"

Well past Teapot we sat on the tailgate and ate lunch looking out across the namesake of the Maze. We talked about turning back and looked and re-looked at the map. After deciding we'd get no hiking in that day, and that I'd spend the whole time worrying about breaking the blazer on the way out, we decided to abandon our plan. One of the reasons that we've avoided the Maze before is because of the commitment of time to "do it right". It's grueling enough to drive that road, but to spend a night or two and drive it again isn't my idea of a good time. If I were to do it again, I'd go for no less than a week.

arrive in the dark and wake to this

eggs ranchero con '77 

At 4pm we made it back to the road junction, where Verizon worked, so I called the Hans Flat RS and cancelled our Standing Rocks permit. She said that Sunset Pass campsite was occupied for that night so we decided to head over Sunset, into BLM land, and camp on the next pass over, which had fewer trees, hence a bigger view. Big views are an essential part of camping in my not so humble opinion.

pot of gruel on the edge looking to Sunset Pass

The next day we drove back out to the highway where, after 15 years in Utah, Lisa saw Lake Powell for the first time. She decided she hadn't been missing much. We did a short hike up to Hog Springs, which is a classic Glen Canyon Formation hike, then drove out to Angel Trailhead to camp for the night, setting up to hike the Angel Trail West the next morning. The night was again lovely. The chill of the air, combined with a sixty mile view, called for some fire and bourbon.

frontier tailgate whiskey

campfire sittin'

The next day we walked over the precipice, following Angel Trail West, stopping occasionally to check out Angel Trail East where we walked a couple years prior to access Robbers Roost. Having walked them both, I'd say they are pretty equal in distance and difficulty to access the Dirty Devil. Angel West clearly has easier vehicle access though. I was surprised to see that Angel Cove spring was dry as a bone, which is an ominous indicator to what kind of dryness we will have this summer. We walked upstream, where we ran into a group of students from Washington on a week long trip into Robbers Roost. After chatting a bit we went to look at some rock art then turned back for the hike out, followed by the long grind home.

surveying our days work

petrified sand dune - aka Navajo Sandstone

big hand dude

freaky hat dude, and clan

the "trail"

dusty ass, wonderful, petrified desert

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