For our anniversary, Susie and I decided to have a little hiking weekend. We met up with my nephew Hector and his wife Kandi at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park for camping on Friday night. This is a good campground and it would be an excellent base camp for the many day hikes surrounding the canyon country near Escalante--particularly if you don't like back-country camping. Saturday morning we packed up and headed down the Hole-in-the-Rock Road. Hector really wanted to see the Peek-a-Boo and Spooky slots. I too was happy to go back. They are fun slots and Susie had never seen them either.
Above: climbing under the double arches in Peek-a-Boo (Hector photo).
Above: Kandi squeezes through the last narrow part of Peek-a-Boo before it opens up.
We took the cross-country slickrock route from the top of Peek-a-Boo to the top of Spooky.
I really wanted to see something new, so everyone agreed to keep heading down Dry Fork to the much less-visited Brimstone Gulch. The sand slogging and 90-degree heat were worth it. And Brimstone, in my opinion, may be the best of the bunch.
Above: Susie at the entrance to Brimstone slot.
Brimstone's walls are much taller and closer together than either Spooky's or Peek-a-Boo's. Thus, very little light penetrates to the canyon's floor. After a couple 100 yards we hit some cold stagnant water about waist deep. This wasn't appealing to Susie or Kandi, so Hector and I ventured on with a promise to not be gone too long.
What a contrast! To go from exposed hot and sandy desert to the cold, dark, and damp innards of the earth within a few minutes.
Above: Once in the heart of Brimstone, you'll find moss growing on the sandstone walls.
Above: This was the darkest slot I'd been in--I needed to use the flash in this particularly dark and dreary spot.
Above: after walking sideways for several hundred yards, we got a short break where the canyon opened up. It didn't last long.
After a brief widening of the canyon, it again constricts to impossible proportions (maybe 6 inches wide). As I scouted out the possibility of stemming up and out of the slot, Hector looked down to a spot behind my feet. His eyes widened.
Oh crap. Nearly anyone who spends much time in Dry Fork's slots has a story of coming across a Midget Faded rattlesnake at the worst time. Tiny little buggers, but just as venomous. I thought that I too would have my own rattlesnake story to tell.
I had already stepped over the thing somehow. I couldn't go forward, and it would have been real tight to try and go up. Definitely no room to go around as the slot was only 1.5 feet wide.
I looked down to get a better look at was I was dealing with. I could just see a bit of its tail end, but I was 80% sure it was a harmless Gopher snake. I relayed this to Hector, who was laughing uncontrollably at my reaction to the whole situation. He asked about the other 20%.
I bent down closer to see the entire serpent. Now I was 100% it was a small Gopher snake. To convince Hector that it was harmless, I caught the snake and played a bit with it. Hector took his turn letting the snake slide through his fingers.
We had been gone awhile, so we headed back out of the slot to meet Susie and Kandi.
We took a shortcut up and over a tall sand dune and then across an expanse of petrified dunes on the way back to the trailhead.
Hector and Kandi had to head back home. Susie and I drove to Torrey, had dinner at La Cueva (very good), and then spent the night at the Cowboy Cabins. The plan for the morning was to hike through Maidenwater Canyon south of Hanksville. I had tried to do this hike a couple of years ago but the weather didn't cooperate. The forecast was pretty good but would it hold?