|Exploring one of the many passages of the Dollhouse in the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park.|
The final day of my April foray into The Maze area centered around a bike/hike into the Dollhouse. The first few miles of road from my campsite at Standing Rock were hard-packed and fast. But, about a mile to go to the Dollhouse, the road drops in and out of a wash full of dry, loose land. I found myself pushing my bike more than riding, so finally ditched the bike and ran the rest of the way.
From the Dollhouse, several trails head off in different directions. With just a couple of hours to explore I decided to to do a short loop hike to the Surprise Valley Overlook and Granary.
|Early morning at Standing Rock.|
|Mule deer kick up sand along the road to the Dollhouse.|
|The trail to the Surprise Valley Overlook.|
|Small Anasazi granary near the Dollhouse.|
|Additional granaries in the same alcove.|
|The Colorado River and Cataract Canyon, just upstream from Spanish Bottom. The snow-covered La Sal Mountains rise above.|
|Running back to my bike after visiting the Dollhouse.|
With much less food/water/weight in my pack, the rough slickrock ride back to my car at Teapot Rock was much more enjoyable. I was surprised to pass a younger guy biking toward the Maze. He was closely followed by a support vehicle.
After returning to my car and consulting the map, I decided it would be just as fast or perhaps faster to take the Hite Road back to civilization.
|Cruising beneath Teapot Rock.|
I've been telling my wife for years that someday I'm bound to come across a dead body out in the desert. This trip into the Maze was as close as I've ever come.
The next day after I got back from my trip--Monday, April 8--I checked the newspaper and came across this headline: Father and son found dead in Utah national park
I couldn't believe what I was reading. I got chills. The bodies of two men were found on the afternoon of Saturday, April 6, at Lou's Spring. I was supposed to be at Lou's Spring that Saturday morning! I'm now very grateful that that stickler-for-the-rules ranger had botched my original plans to hike down the Golden Stairs Saturday morning. It would have ended my trip early since I would have had to backtrack to Hans Flat to report the bodies.
I'm pretty sure I saw their car parked at the top of the Flint Trail. My Friday night camp at Teapot Rock was within about 4 miles of Lou's Spring. I never heard gunshots, but apparently they had been dead a few days before I entered the area. I rode within a half mile of the bodies Saturday morning on my way to Standing Rock. I must have been just ahead of the rangers that would later discover the bodies that afternoon. I also now know why that Air-Med helicopter was buzzing around early Saturday evening as I enjoyed the view at Maze Ovelook.
It's a tragic and bizarre story. Their deaths were ruled either a double-suicide or a murder-suicide. But family and friends aren't buying it. We may never know what happened.
|Wild and remote, this is Ernie's Country and The Fins of Canyonlands National Park. Due to its remoteness and confusing trail-less routes, Backpacker magazine ranked The Maze as the most dangerous place in America to hike.|