Me, my girlfriend & one of my soccer buddies took a quick 4 day trip last week to southern Utah/northern Arizona, only because I didn't want to celebrate my 40th anywhere near Salt Lake. It was a bit tough taking the photos because whenever shade was involved, it really screwed with the camera sensor. Having such a huge dynamic range between light and dark is challenging for film, let alone digital. We drove down to Bryce the first day, set up camp & then did a 8 mile hike down into the hoodoos, which is the only way to see the park IMO:
We drove a short distant over to Kodachrome Basin State Park the next day, which is a tiny little place with a few interesting formations, including many volcanic necks (magma that cooled in a shaft on the way to the surface that had all the surrounding rock eroded to expose the solidified shaft). We did a 6 mile hike there:
The plan was to take the dirt road (Cottonwood Canyon Road), just a couple of miles away from Kodachrome, for ~40 miles to the highway close to the UT/AZ border. The week prior, we had severe thunderstorms across the state, and the road had a big "ROAD CLOSED" sign sitting in it. I talked to the guys at Kodachrome & they said that the county has always been maintaining the road, even though it is actually a BLM road. Neither will fix it until they can come to some sort of maintenance agreement. Crap. Back to the highway to take the long way around (130 miles vs 40 miles). We hit House Rock Road and drove down to the free BLM campground right on the border at sunset:
The next morning, we drove down a few more miles into AZ, then turned off on another road that would take us to an area known as Coyote Buttes South. The road was amazingly bad. Super deep sand, a few spots with mud from the previous week's storms, tree roots sticking out like spikes & lots of very large rock. I didn't take any pictures of the road on the way in since I wanted to start hiking & figured I could take pictures on the way back (didn't happen-more on that later). We made it to the trailhead and started our hike:
At this point, we had already hiked about 5 miles. It was clear and in the upper 90's, with no wind & not a speck of shade. We decided to hike up into the other permit section known as Coyote Buttes North, where the Wave (I posted about this last year) is located. It would be another 9 miles round trip across sand and rock, but what the hell. Here are a few from the North:
This one I've dubbed Penguin Rock:
Once finished in the North, I basically just created and followed an imaginary straight line back toward where we started. I made it back to the car & noticed my soccer buddy hadn't crested the hill yet. He did so a few minutes later saying he had to stop for some dry heaving action. Once at the vehicle, I slammed 2 liters of cold water + a can of Pepsi. My friend drank about 1 liter of water, albeit slowly. He started complaining about a huge stomach ache before even drinking the water, so I knew something was amiss. We started the drive out & the horrible road didn't help him at all. I had to stop so he could heave his guts out for a while. At this point, it was dark. We had been hiking non-stop for 9 1/2 hours and my friend didn't look good at all. I had to stop again so he could puke for a while. When we made it back to camp & solid, non-moving ground, he started feeling a bit better. He tried to eat a bit, had some more water & called it a night. I told him that if he wasn't feeling better, or if something did not feel right, that he'd have to wake me up so I could take him in to the nearest clinic some 70 miles away. He was fine the next day. Since it was the last day of our trip & he was feeling normal again, I decided to stop and do a short 4 mile hike into Buckskin Gulch (I have a previous post about backpacking here), which is a slot canyon. We could really see the damage that flooding had caused the prior week-lots of big boulders piled up, mud everywhere, etc. Here are a couple from that:
If anyone ever hits southern Utah on a road trip, let me know. I can certainly point out some horrible trails for you to test your 4x4 mettle.