our trip down to the Escalante canyon systems to explore its best (arguably) crown jewel- Coyote Gulch-in spring 2010. This would be my third visit to this part of the Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument.
we left Salt Lake at 4pm and drove for six hours until we arrived in middle of nowhere Utah. It was dark by the time we pulled onto the rough, sphincter-rattling Hole-in-the-Rock Road, which we drove for awhile before demand for sleep forced us to pull over and make camp for the night. Which we did in the warm night air, with crickets chirping us to sleep.
The following day- Sunday- we were up and back on the road by 8am. Two hours later we were at the 40 Mile Plateau Well trailhead, hiking across the soft sand and slickrock benches, headed to the great gash in the solid slickrock sea ahead of us. That gash was Coyote Gulch. After an hour of swift hiking under an ever-warming sky, we dropped down into the shiny green oasis of Coyote Gulch, with its life-giving perennial stream of fresh spring water flowing slowly through the large slot canyon, providing life to many bright green trees and plant life. Our drop down point was at the base of Lobo Arch, which served as one of the best campsites that I’ve ever used. And it was going to serve as our campsite on this trip. We found an amazing site underneath a tall oak tree next to the arch.
once we had camp established, we began our five mile hike down the canyon towards its confluence with the Escalante River. The day was extremely hot, with the great yellow orb of the sun hanging in a blue sky, radiating 100 degree heat. But hiking in the stream, although the water itself was warm, felt refreshing and we made our way down, enjoying its delights. We sat under flowing waterfalls, passed under Coyote Natural Bridge, hiked up to some Anasazi Indian rock art, caught lizards and did a lot of hiking, until we came to the larger Escalante River. We were in the wilderness deep now, far from any road and/or human habitation. We were less than five miles from the shoreline of Lake Powell that the Escalante drained into. We went up river for a few minutes until we saw the spectacular Stevens Arch hanging high up on a sandstone wall. We then went swimming and hung out in the cooler waters of the river, refreshing ourselves from the hot afternoon. We then had a long hike back to camp, and it was a haul to get back there. We stopped off and refilled our water bottles under a cold spring flowing out of the rock, and it felt mighty refreshing! We got back to our camp about an hour before it got dark, after hiking 12 miles for the day. I stayed up after the light finally left the sky, listening to the crickets chirp and frogs ribbet, waiting for fireflies to come out (I remember watching them zip by in fluorescent flashes 13 years ago), but they never did this time. After swooping bats were getting too close for comfort, I retired to the tent for the night.
We were up before the sun, breaking camp and hiking up and out of the canyon before the wilting heat of the day drained us of our remaining strength. It took us a few hours to get back to the car, and when we got there we were tired yet satisfied. We had seen and partaken of a beautiful place, and our lives were much better because of it. We then had an uneventful yet highly scenic drive back home. Another adventure to the canyon country completed. It always has been and continues to be one of my favorite places in the world. Yow!