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Trip taken with Jeremy Shinoda June 22-June 29, 2010. Flying into Las Vegas, Renting a crappy Jeep Patriot (no power locks!) from Fox Car Rental for cheap, and driving straight into Utah for 1 day state park camping, 3 days BLM camping, and 2 nights National Forest camping and 1 night free hotel in Vega$.
Day 1: Started off badly. I was not used to checking baggage and didn't know there was a 45 minute cutoff for United so had to rebook after getting up at 4am for my 6am flight. Was in a line for 2 hours, but somehow got standby on the 9am and got the last seat, so not too much of a mishap, though could have derailed the trip a lot. Jeremy had to wait a little for me, but not too much since he was due in later (originally). Picked up our
sad, but serviceable
Jeep Patriot from the discount car rental place in Las Vegas and headed down I-15 around 11:30. Our original plan was to camp at this BLM campground near St. George that had a cool hike I wanted to continue from a previous trip when I had to stop midway. Unfortunately, it was closed for some fixing up from previous month's flooding. So we continued on east and spent the rest of the day and night at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes,
which I had driven through last year. Nice place to spend a night at and check out the dunes and high elevation made the temps comfortable. Also, it was the first place I've camped in many years that had nice showers. Even though we were not yet scummy, it was nice to shower in the morning since we'd be without one for many days following.
Day 2: Headed out to Kanab to pick up some supplies and talk to the BLM office. Guy there was the same dude that ran the Wave lottery last year and was happy to be out of that duty this year. I forgot to pick up liquor in NV and refused to get low alcohol beer and the state store in Kanab was closed till Noon. I would not be drinking till Vegas, which was dissapointing, but at least meant I didn't
have to get up out of the tent to piss ever the whole trip. Headed further east a bit and then turned down Cottonwood
Canyon Road for our day of exploring. But not before doing a short hike to the Toadstools, a little hike off the main road to some nice formations seen in first 3 pics below. Cottonwood was a cool drive with a few stops for canyon hikes and checking out a pretty nice arch. We found a great spot for camping, but thes tiny flies were nuts. The insect repellant was not effective. We ended up in a spot where they weren't too bad and were about to
enjoy the scenary a bit. A worse flies assault would hit us later. We were told these were Cedar Gnats and a mix of various annoying bugs special to S. Utah and it was random when they were out in force. I still have scabs 3 weeks later. But still, a great day and the car survived it's first true 4x4 test.
Day 3: After breakfast, head a little further down Cottonwood and out back to the pavement for 30 minutes till Escalante where we gassed up and paid another visit to the impressive Interagency BLM office that looks like they spent "use it or lose it" money on. Real nice building and nice bathrooms. We were stocked up nicely still and so ready to go after talking to them and getting some info. Headed down Hole in the Rock Road, which faithful readers of this site may recall I went down part of in my Altima to get to some slot canyons years ago for one of the most painful bumpy rides ever, but was worth the risk of the car falling apart. Well, this time, much nicer ride, but still painful. We hit up these slot canyons again and it really was sweet, even a second time. The place was teeming with some group of middle school girls, over 100, which we barely beat into the cayon, or it would have taken hours to get through the tight spaces waiting for them and this gabbing. Continued down the road some and made a failed attempt to go to some Chimney thing but aborted when it seemed like we might get stuck in sand. Then made our way down to a side road that led to some feature called "Crack in the Wall", which actually was in the Glen Canyon Rec Area. It was real windy, very hot, lots of sand and no trail. There was a van in the little lot at the end of a fairly tricky dirt road with some deep sand at points. Seemed like a backpacking excursion, but we did a hike to the edge to see the feature and it was real nice. Real key to have had my dorky wide-brim hat (which I found on the street by Delores Park last year, nearly brand new, probably left on a car roof). We then continued down Hole in the Rock and stopped by some Dance Hall Rock which had something to do with Mormons in wagon trains and entertainment for them. Then continued and the road was getting pretty crazy and we sort of weren't in the mood to negotiate the last 7 miles of real bad road to the actual Hole in the Rock. Turned around and camped by Sooner Rocks which was real nice and relaxing. Flies were present, but not too bad. I think we had chili and fritos with cheese and salad with bacon dressing. Excellent. Could have used some gin, but all else was good for this day. Not a soul around.
Day 4: Enjoyed the scenary a bit in the morning and had a nice breakfast. Then, headed back down the road towards Escalante. A couple miles from the blacktop, we turned off at the Devil's Garden, which we had seen on our way in. Pretty nice formations to scramble around on and enjoyed about 30 minutes here. Then it was onwards towards the Burr Trail Road, leading into the backway of Capital Reef National Park. Stopped off and had a nice
lunch at some little place. Headed down the blacktop portion of the Trail which we had done before during the flood trip. Outstanding scenary all around. I thought the dirt part was going to be trecherous, but it wasn't that bad. Pretty steep and tight switchbacks, but not as scary as some othe roads I've been on. We entered the park and headed down Norton-Bullfrog road and took a left into the primitve campground I had stayed at on my trip some years ago. We were the only
ones, and we soon found out why as the flies attacked us pretty bad. We tried a few things as can be seen in the photos, but in the end, had to abandon ship. Headed out to the main road and basically circled around back towards the start of the Burr Trail Road and took a right on Hell's Backbone Road into the National Forest and went up for a while. Great variety of scenary on this driving day. Got to a campground just with a bit of light left for cooking and decided to relax at this place
for 2 nights as it seemed nice. Camp was right near a little creek that made for relaxing sounds and muffled the sounds of the other people in the campground, which was small at only 6 sites. Long
day, but nice to be up high with no flies.
Morning at Sooner Rocks Camp
Last light as we cross the Devil's Backbone.
Day 5: Blue Spruce Campround was a perfect resting spot for the reading we hadn't been able to do much of so far on the trip. There was some cow ranch on a road above the camp and you'd see the cows going out in the morning and coming back in the evening after grazing. We drove back to the Hell's Backbone bridge to do some more sight-seeing and take photos and tried to find a good hike to do, but there wasn't anything really to our liking for the amount of effort we wanted to expend. So mostly sat in chairs and read by the creek and enjoyed the coolness. This area also had a ton of my favorite tree, the cottonwood, which I find peaceful watching as breeze makes their leave appear to shimmer.
Day 6: Originally, we planned on doing a hike in the area, but having felt we spent enough time in these parts, decided to make our way to some more BLM land along Skutumpah Road just off route 12 outside of Cannonville. We stopped off in this town before and got the lowdown on some slot canyons to check out from the BLM guy manning the station there. First slot canyon, was nice, but not that exciting. However, the second one, Bull Valley Gorge, which we were told scared some people and required some technical skill to get into, was pretty sweet. Checked this thing out for a few hours and though it was cool down there mostly, when we hit the sun, it was a killer. Saw some cool birds making loud noises and a jeep imbedded in the dirt in a bridge over the road above us. After this, we continued down the dirt road just looking for a good spot to camp. Didn't find a good spot for some time till we hit up with the paved Johnson Canyon road and went past where I had camped on my previous trip and found a nice path off the road where we set up shop and enjoyed the last day of scenery with some relaxing and not too many flies.
Day 7: Woke up early and had no food for breakfast except for nuts. We were ready for real meal and also excited about Vegas. First stopped off in Kanab and had a real nice breakfast at Grandma Tina's which had great pancakes. Then jammed down 15 as fast as the Patriot would allow in the heat. Had to slow down as the transmission overheating warning light came on since it was about 106 outside. We made it to the hotel near the convention center I had gotten with Marriott points around 11:30 and they were nice to let us check in early so we could enjoy the pool for a bit. Went to the tail end of the Bellagio lunch buffet and really enjoyed and got the beginning of the dinner switchover, then headed to the Golden Gate casino for a nice 9 hour blackjack session at one table where I think I had 17 drinks, but the gin and tonics were watered down and even switching over to Jack on the rocks around drink 6, I was only in a little bit of trouble at the end when we headed back to the hotel at 2am, lasting through the table going from $5 min to $10 and then back to $5.
Day 8: Had enough gambling. Did some more pool, then back to Golden Gate for our comped meal at their restaurant which was pretty good. Then checked out the new City Center that will probably go bankrupt and had nice scented themes in various parts, then airport.
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