Part 4: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument


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The Trip

We spent the night at the side of the trail with an awesome view of Page, AZ and the valley below us.  Our goal for the day was to make progress toward Hole in the Rock and depending on the trail conditions, camp along the way.

The photos below are what we saw.

We found a visitor in Kathleen's clothes bag, compliments of Rick and Kim.  Kathleen did not get bitten.

Once the group broke camp, we headed north on Smoky Mountain road.  There were many interesting buttes along the trail.

This formation was particularly spectacular.

Thor led the way and when we got to the top of one of the switchbacks, we got a view of the balance of the group working their way below the cliffs.

Another of many awesome formations.

Eventually, we reached a small creek and stopped to inspect things.

The group caught up and dismounted to look around.

Close to our stop was another nice cactus in bloom.

We traveled on the rim of Mustang Canyon and one of the roadside stops provided a great view of this side canyon head-wall.

Beautiful wispy clouds punctuated an otherwise blue sky.

Near the start of the Left Hand Collet trail we spotted the interesting wind erosion patterns in the rocks.

The erosion patterns were intricate and seemingly random.

Deeper into Left Hand Collet Canyon the holes turned into drapes.

At one point we had to pass a handing rock that one day will block the trail.

A flash flood or two and this portion of the canyon will be blocked off from the balance of the world.

At the canyon exit were some dinosaur tracks embedded in the canyon walls.  Above, the group fans out in an attempt to find the tracks.

We found several sets of tracks, the one above clearly showing 3 toes.

These tracks, a bit harder to distinguish, are from a dinosaur that had round feet.

Close to the tracks were some yucca in bloom.

The bedding in the rock showed clear evidence of multiple episodes of dune building.  Note the (nearly) horizontal junction in the center of the cliff.

The old west is alive and well in southern Utah.  Horses are still the preferred method of transport for remote back-country areas.

The group decided to camp at Early Weed Bench.  The trail was rough and eroded in many spots resulting in some slow going.  But, it did provide some great views of the eroded bluffs.

We lost traction at one point on the trail and slid backwards into a deep rut bending my right rear tool box.

Early Weed Bench provided some great views of the Escalante Canyon region.  The Henry Mountains are in the distance and still have a touch of snow.

This region of slickrock sandstone is cut with deep, narrow canyons.

When the bedding of the sandstone is exposed to weathering it produces interesting patterns.

An uplift followed by erosion produces natural art.

Since we were leading, we arrived at the camp first which provided a view of the approaching group.

While nosing around the rocks, I found this fellow.  Note the spots.

The group arrives at our slickrock site at Early Weed Bench.

After dinner, we gathered around a small fire to share lies.

Left Hand Collet Canyon was awesome, the views were spectacular and the road was freshly graded.  The trail to Early Weed was rough due to a number of wash-outs.

Tomorrow, we head to Hole in the Rock and then points north.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2013, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.