Day 4 started out with a quick hike through Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Gulches. These are some of best and easiest slots to get to in the Grand Staircase-Escalante N.M.
After just a one-mile approach, we arrived at the "Moki" steps that allow access to the bottom of Peek-a-Boo. Immediately, this officially unnamed minor tributary of Dry Fork slot up wonderfully with several rock bridges and windows you can pass through.
After only about a 1/2 mile, we emerged from the top of the slot, turned around, and went back down for an opposing perspective of all the formations.
After another mile down Dry Fork, we found the mouth of a second small tributary known as Spooky and started up. Spooky lacks the arches and windows, but it is deeper, darker, narrower, and has thousands of tiny goosebumps on the canyon walls that make for some interesting photos.
After returning to the vehicles we headed farther down the Hole-in-the-Rock Road, soon arriving at Dance Hall Rock -- a large dome of sandstone that rises from the desert plain. The west side of the dome has a huge natural amphitheater that was used by the San Juan Expedition pioneers for recreation. For three months during the winter of 1879-80, they would dance to fiddle play regularly as the "Hole" was being widened and prepared for passage of their wagons.
Above: group shot on the "dance floor."
There are several places along the modern Hole-in-the-Rock Road where wooden posts mark crossings with the original wagon trail. Even after 120 years, in many places, the original wagon trail can still be seen parting a sea of sagebrush.
Above and below: the Scout Memorial south of Dance Hall Rock. Tragic.
After finding a nice little secluded cove at Sooner Rocks and setting up camp, we had just enough daylight to check out nearby Willow Gulch.
Above: one of the most unique pedestal rocks I've seen greets hikers at the Willow Gulch Trailhead (Beege photo).
Above: a tiny but steady stream in Willow Gulch supports plenty of greenery and even a healthy beaver population.
Above: although we never saw beaver, the tell-tale signs are there such as the countless gnawed off trees.
Above and below: Broken Bow Arch - this thing is huge. Supposedly an early explorer found a native's hunting bow beneath the arch, and, uh, as you can guess, it was broken. Got to love how things get named around here.
Above: Eros takes in the grandeur of the arch with an equally impressive alcove in the distance.
Above and below: on the way out, myself and Matt checked out a small grotto and overhang that had these weird pyramids and grooves carved into what appeared to be tufa deposits (old spring minerals). Who carved them? Indians? Bored hikers? Aliens?
After the hike, we cooked hot dogs and brats over the fire and bedded down for the night.
Above: late evening sun burns Sooner Rocks above camp.
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