escalante national monument
As our journey continued on from Zion, we found ourselves lacking sufficient sleep leaving our camp site. A boisterously loud party was popping off near our glamp site the night before so alas our goals of a peaceful campfire, post 27 mile hike was thwarted. We woke up making breakfast for 3 on one burner stove using our coolers as tables and set our sights on Escalante National Monument. Specifically, we wanted to get into the nitty gritty of the slot canyons located in the Dry Fork area. Leaving from Orderville, UT and going straight to the Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyons, the drive would be a little less than three hours. We were playing with fire a little bit with this day’s plan, because both Gaston and I had phone calls in the afternoon that we really needed to make. Nothing could go wrong, right?!
hikes. peek-a-boo and spooky slot canyons.
things to do. drive scenic byway 12.
coulda, shoulda, woulda. hike old cattle road to a beautiful waterfall.
- bring a car that can handle off-roading and be prepared for a bumpy ride for 26 miles each way if you want to access the slots
- download offline maps on Google Maps before you leave your spot with internet. trust me, you’ll thank me.
- consider downloading an app like Strava or use your smart device to track your mileage per hour. also check when the sunsets are. these two pieces of information will be important the later your hike is.
Embarking in my mini-SUV, we drove the 3 hours and pulled off Highway 12. Thus began our unexpected journey down the 26.3 miles of the seriously unpaved, bumpy AF Hole-In-The-Rock Road. The road was so bumpy, we had to drive between 15 and 35 MPH to avoid severe damage to my vehicle. A drive which we estimated to take 45 minutes maximum, ended up taking around 2 hours each way to complete. We were really starting to feel like we needed to do a liiiittle more advanced planning on trips like this. Google Mapping our ETAs and lightly reading facts about our hikes an hour before we did them wasn’t really cutting it and now we’d be up against the clock to finish this hike. Goal was to fully take advantage of everything we wanted to see from this hike, account for 2 hours of rocky roads back out to the Highway and finally, figure out where we could we find phone service and take our calls. Totally doable. It’s going to be fine. Everything is fine.
After stopping at the wrong trailhead, walking down the wrong trail, asking for help and wasting another 30 minutes, we drove the extra mile down the road to make it to the right trailhead. The sky was red and we noticed that there was a nearby fire that was blocking the Sun. Bad for nature, but it did make for some pretty stunning lighting in pictures. As soon as we started, we realized the trail was going to be a lot of guessing and we’d need to make some guesses pretty quickly. Ok so HOT TIP. Spooky Slot goes INTO Peek-A-Boo slot. What I mean by that is as you crawl through, it gets narrower and narrower. It gets so narrow that you question whether or not you’re supposed to keep going. The answer, is yes, you’re supposed to crawl down and potentially crash into dirt. This hike definitely is not for the claustrophobic folk, but it was an incredibly unique experience and well worth doing. If you end up getting ambitious, the park has its own version of the Narrows that you can walk through and it (allegedly) loops you back to the trailhead.
Somehow though, we found ourselves off trail and pretty lost. The one saving grace that allowed us to do all of this? OFFLINE MAPS. My #1 tip on new hikes is – take the time to mark your trailheads and download offline maps. It’s the only way we made it back to our car and found a spot to take our calls. The spot had cute pups and even had beers that we could drink in their parking lot!
Anyway, after a 27 hike/walk yesterday, and a stressful 52 mile rocky drive plus a freestyle 5-7 mile slot canyon trek today, WE WERE TIRED. We headed to our pretty impressive house in Alton, UT that sat right between our Escalante (today) and Bryce Canyon (tomorrow) treks. There we met our hosts Mike and Elka. Prior to retiring in Alton and managing the house we were staying in, they lived in Las Vegas, NV and lived a bit faster of a lifestyle. Mike worked as a teamster and worked for the City of Las Vegas. Unexpectedly, their friends fell ill and they moved out to Utah take care of them and ultimately their house. With each AirBNB visitor, they ended up gathering some great memories and hearing incredible stories from people driving through.
As the sun was starting to set, I started to reflect on the wild few days of our trip so far. Every single step of the way, there were moments where we had to confront a problem and pivot towards a different solution. Mike and Elka ended up doing the same thing and some of the best memories they’ve had have been here. Sometimes I get so focused on what is going on at that very moment that I don’t stop to realize that the only reason why I’m there is for reasons out of my control. It’s the way I handle those twists and turns that have made my path different and better than I could ever imagine. During a year where I’ve felt a lot of sadness and anger, it’s important to remember not to compare ones path to another. Each person has their own unique set of obstacles, past experiences, goals and interpersonal relationships that are particularly different than another. It’ll never safe to assume that your route to success looks like the person’s next to you. That’s at least what I’m trying to tell myself everyday.