Winter sun

This time of year choosing routes that stay high and out of the bottoms of canyons is usually preferable   Water is plentiful and one can take full advantage of the wonderful Utah winter sun, avoiding chilly and shady canyon bottoms.  The top of the Waterpocket Fold seemed like a good place to be.  We were traveling through the tail end of a rather large weather system, which made things a bit slow and sloppy, especially once we hit Hole in the Rock road.  Escalante had about 6″ and I theorized that by the time we got down to 40 mile ridge we’d be out of the snow.  Didn’t happen, and the snow actually got deeper the further south we headed.  The afternoon was sunny and the snow was melting fast, making for some pretty gnarly driving.

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We eventually made it and headed out in the dark in about 8″ of snow.  Once we hit Navajo and its stores of warmth only a few hundred feet lower in elevation water was running everywhere.  We set up camp and enjoyed the show until it got cold enough for the melting to stop.


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We enjoyed the sun for the few minutes it was below the fog…

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…and then enjoyed the fog…

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…snow line…

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All that snowmelt made for some fun waist-deep sections of river walking.  Cody getting stuck in thigh deep quicksand at the mouth of Stevens was particularly interesting.

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The fog finally cleared in the early afternoon but finding the sun for some drying and warmth wasn’t exactly easy…

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It was pretty clear that due to slow travel since leaving home we weren’t making it to the promised land above, so we chased the sun around bends in the canyon hoping for a solid half hour or so to dry off a bit more before the early evening set in.SDIM0131

I think we ended up with about 10 minutes, but it was glorious.

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We were a bit concerned about what a couple more warm days might mean for river levels and road conditions getting out so we decided to mosey back and shoot for being reasonably close to the truck the last night.

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The river ended up being a little bit lower and hitting it during maximum sunlight made things much more comfortable this time around…

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We sat here a long time drying out and wondering why we didn’t just wander around up here for a couple days.

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We considered setting up camp here but warm greasy food and beer was calling from up north

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A night of car camping and bumming around in the Swell topped the trip off nicely.  All in all a fairly terrible route for the conditions but I can’t think of anything else I would have rather been doing.

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