Down the Hole: Day 3 - Batty Pass Caves
After packing up camp and filling our water bottles, we had to decide to pass under the arch or continue through the long meander around Hamblin Arch.
A few of us initially wanted to pass through the arch, but we got a hunch that we were going to miss something big if we continued on the shortcut. Good thing we changed our minds, because 100 yards up the canyon is the biggest undercut I've ever seen in Utah's canyon country. It was difficult to take it all in, and even more difficult to photograph with a point-and-shoot.
Above: the huge undercut south of Jacob Hamblin Arch; for scale, look for the tiny black speck (Beege ~6'2") just to the left of the tree in the bottom center of the photo.
Above: my feeble attempt to stitch two photos together and show the view out of the backside of the undercut.
Above: I love this photo Beege took, I still can't figure out exactly where he was when he took it. The tangled web of fins, arches, and undercuts here are mind-boggling.
Above and below: heading toward the opposite (west) side of Jacob Hamblin with morning sun spilling through its massive portal.
Below: one last undercut before Coyote's walls begin to lower and the exit route through Hurricane Wash presents itself.
Above: one final mini-slot in Hurricane Wash before the canyon opens up.
Below: the last few miles along the sandy wash were a bit of a drag, but we finally made it back to the Jeep.
After meeting Dad near Batty Pass, we scoped out a campsite next to several caves (mines) that were home to two German brothers back in the 50-60s.
The cave-homes are very well preserved and tidy -- as if the Lichtenahn brothers had just packed up and moved out a few days before.
Here is part of a 1960s news article from Escalante on the brothers (courtesy of Beege):
Above and below: unfortunately, looks like Cliff never finished his boat that he intended to explore Lake Powell with.
Above: this contraption bolted to a sandstone boulder was likely used by the Lichtenahn brothers to polish slabs of petrified wood.
After checking out the caves, we set out to explore some of the old mining tracks on ATVs.
Above: every ledge and overhang was thoroughly scoped for Anasazi dwellings.
We found a fun little road that led us clear up on top of 50-Mile Bench and the very base of the Straight Cliffs, about 1000 feet higher than our camp. The views over the Escalante Desert and off toward the Henry Mountains were outstanding.
That night, Dad was the only one brave enough to sleep in the caves. Blood-sucking bats? Flesh-eating rats? Hantavirus? Bill and Cliff's ghosts? None of these things were going to deter him. I couldn't believe it when he told us the next morning that it was the best night's rest he had so far.