Sunday, June 5, 2011

Capitol Reef Day 1: Golden Throne, Poineer Register, The Tanks

This past weekend Erik and I decided to explore down in Capitol Reef National Park.  Capitol Reef is one of the less known national parks in the southwest.  Not many people I talked to this week had even heard of it when I was sharing my plans with everyone.  The park encompasses miles of desert canyons along the Waterpocket Fold - a dramatic step-like fold known as a monocline.  Although the scenery here is not as immediately dramatic as that in Zion national park (our favorite) the flip side is that the trails and campgounds in Capitol Reef are much less crowded.  We were pleasantly surprised by the beauty that came without the mass amounts of people you typically see in National Parks.  The park has lots of great hiking options and also has some technical slot canyons canyons.  After much research in our many Utah hiking/canyoneering guide books, we decided on a few good hikes.

Day 1 involved Erik and I driving down early Friday morning to ensure a camp spot for our group.  We spent the rest of the day driving the scenic highway in the park to the Capitol Gorge.  It was an impressive dirt road that weaves its way deep into the waterpocket fold.  We parked at the trailhead for The Golden Throne, The Pioneer Register, and the Tanks, and since we had a few hours to spare before our group was to meet us back at the campground we decided to hike to all three features.

The hike to the Golden Throne was absolutely gorgeous.  With massive sandstone cliffs and domes that extended as far as we could see.  Erik and I had a fun time discussing the book, "Desert Solitaire" while we hiked.  It is is an interesting read that anyone who enjoys the national parks could find interesting whether they agree with the author or not.

After the jaunt up to the Golden throne we hiked through the Capitol Gorge Canyon to some other features.

The Pioneer Register was a really fun part of the canyon where early pioneers who settled Southern Utah would carve their names into the rock as they passed.  It was really cool to read all the names and dates that covered the length of the canyon.

The hike to the Tanks had us climbing back out of the canyon floor up to some natural potholes, which were all dried up this time of year.  But we did find a fun drainage to climb down where there was some great downclimbing and  we found an arch.

All in all a pretty great hiking afternoon. When we finished we drove back out of the park to get cell service to check on the status of Kyle and Jen Grossarth and their 2 little girls to see when they were expecting to hit camp.  Naturally, Erik and and could not pass up the opportunity to take our traditional photo with the park sign. Kyle and Jen just happened to drive by as we were stopped here, so we drove back to camp together and enjoyed sloppy joes, corn on the cob, and watermelon for dinner. 


The surprise of the day came at about 1 am when Erik and I hear someone outside out tent calling out our names.  It turned out to be our old comrade Kyle Tew, who we haven't seen in over a year, and who originally told us he wasn't coming, but showed up in the middle of the night ready for adventure! Typical Kyle. . .

1 comment:

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