In early November, before snow began piling up in southern Utah's high deserts, I completed a fast-paced tour through Little Death Hollow, and a bike/hike combo to the top of the Henry Mountains. Squeezing both treks into just two days (including drive-time from home) left me exhausted, but it's taxing adventures like these that rejuvenate my soul and renew my excitement for future adventures.
After dropping the kids off at school and winding my way along Highway 12 and the Burr Trail, I found myself on the edge of the Circle Cliffs at about 1 pm. I had about 5 hours of daylight to complete the 18-mile Little Death Hollow-Wolverine Canyon loop.
Much of Little Death Hollow is runable, so I ran when I felt like it, and walked at times as well--but always at a steady pace since I didn't want to finish in the dark.
|They don't call it Death Hollow for nothing. Occasionally, cows wander into the canyon and either can't navigate their way out or are caught in flash floods.|
|Although Little Death Hollow closes into a true slot often, a lack of serious obstacles means ropes and technical gear are unnecessary.|
|The tall, closely spaced canyon walls rarely let sunlight penetrate to the canyon floor. I'd always take a minute to bask in the light and warm up when the opportunity presented itself.|
|Unlike most Colorado Plateau slot canyons which are typically carved into the Navajo Sandstone, Little Death Hollow is cut into the Wingate Sandstone--an older unit of similar character that looks pretty much identical to the Navajo here.|
|Partially buried petroglyphs in upper Little Death Hollow.|
|A few yellow leaves cling to the branches of giant Cottonwood near an old shack in Horse Canyon. Horse Canyon connects Little Death Hollow to Wolverine Canyon, so you ultimately get to see bits of three different canyons along the loop.|
|Cool honeycomb features in Wolverine Canyon.|
|About midway through Wolverine, water bubbles to the surface and appears to be pretty permanent source.|
|One of thousands of petrified log chunks you'll see throughout this area. This is the pretty kind that has been agatized and displays various shades of red and purple.|
I finished the 18-mile loop just after sundown in a little over 5 hours.
This is great loop because each canyon offers its own variety of scenery. The non-technical nature, high wow-factor, and reliable water sources, would make this a great option for a backpack trip with the family some day.
I didn't pass a single other car as I made my way in the dark across the interior of the Circle Cliffs and down the tight switchbacks descending Capitol Reef's Water Pocket fold and headed north onto Notom Road.
Sleep came quick that night in Cedar Mesa Campground--no matter that some dude in the adjacent campsite broke out the guitar and serenaded his girl late into the AM.
My legs felt a bit thrashed as I laid in my sleeping bag and I worried if I'd be able to complete the nearly 50-mile bike ride the next day to the top of the Henrys.
|My climb started at 9 am at Sandy Junction on Notom Road, elevation 5300 feet.|
|After 24 miles and 6,000 feet of climbing on already tired legs, the sign for Bull Creek Pass was a welcome site.|
|The golden hour just before sunset looks good on Wildcat Mesa.|