Sunday, May 5, 2013

2013 Spring Trip - Day 7 - Cathedral Valley, Capitol Reef National Park

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Last night after driving out to Egypt trail head I knew I wouldn't be making the hike to the Golden Cathedral with Jessica and Travis.  Looking out from the trail head the view was awesome.  We were high above looking down to the Escalante River far below.  The Golden Cathedral hike is about 9 miles, round trip, the last of which is a steep uphill climb.  Since I'm not in very good shape and since the hike the day before wore me out I thought it prudent to not even attempt the hike so my plans changed.

Travis and Jessica decided to go ahead with the hike and I decided to head back to Capitol Reef National Park and head out to Cathedral Valley.  It was a blast spending two nights and a day hiking with my friends on their honeymoon.  We went our separate ways from our camp site.

Before leaving home I had thought about going to Cathedral Valley.  I had been wanting to go to this part of Capitol Reef for a few years and now was the time to do it.

Cathedral Valley is in the north section of Capitol Reef.  It is a remote location in the middle of a 59 mile dirt loop road that requires a high clearance vehicle.  These are the roads I like to take since you have a great opportunity to have few, or no, fellow visitors.

I arrived in Capitol Reef and stopped by the visitor center to find out more about the drive out to the valley.  I found out the road was in good shape and the campground was first come first serve but there probably wouldn't be many campers.  I planned on spending the night and all seemed well so I headed out.

I was kind of in a hurry since I wanted to be out in the valley in the late afternoon and evening.  Aside from one rather interesting place, Bentonite Hills, the drive out to the valley was rather dull.  I thought to myself that Cathedral Valley couldn't be as boring as the drive and I was right.

After about 25 miles you find yourself on a ridge with desert below on both sides.  I took the turnoff on the north side out to an overlook of Upper Cathedral Valley. WOW, what a sight from high above, such a beautiful valley below.  I didn't spend much time at the overlook since it was getting late and I wanted to get down to the valley floor.

The road down the mountain passed the campground.  It was a nice campground with Juniper trees around and lots of room between campsites.  Past the campground the road got very rough and I had to go pretty slow over the rocks.  The decent was quick and I found myself in front of some amazing sculpted monoliths.

I find it fascinating how these monoliths remain when everything around them has eroded away.  As I approached the monoliths they disappeared behind a hill and it wasn't long before I came to a parking lot and trail head.  It turns out the trail follows the monoliths from across a little valley for their whole length.  I hiked quite a way down the trail and was excited by the fact I was experiencing this all alone.  Of course I wished I was sharing this with Carolyn but that was not to be.  The afternoon turned out to be cloudy and it rained some.  The sunset I'd hoped for never developed but it was a fun time being one with nature.  

My plan for sunrise was to shoot the Sun and Moon Temples.  The temples are a few miles from where I was in Upper Cathedral Valley.  The campground was a few miles back but the drive was very slow.  I knew If I stayed in the campground I would have to get up super early to get over to the templesb fore the sun rose.  Fortunately you have to leave the park to get over to the temples.  Since it's BLM land you can camp anywhere so I found a nice spot just outside the park boundary and the entrance back in to Cathedral Valley.

Tomorrow I'll check out what is here and start my journey back to Minnesota.  In the meantime it's time to hit the sack.


1 comment:

  1. Nice narrative Roger. You and I should meet there sometime.