Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My 1st Slot Canyon – Didn’t Make It Very Far!

Moab graced us with a final glorious sunrise as Suzanne and I prepared to pack up our Winnies and head off to separate canyons.

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Suzanne was headed back to her special place, Snow Canyon, near St. George.  While I had my compass pointed towards Bryce Canyon National Park before cold would make it unbearable.  But on the way, I was determined to visit a little canyon that Box Canyon Mark had once described as “a trip to Disneyland” (with the exception of their most recent ill-timed visit).  I had never hiked a slot canyon before, and was “chomping at the bit” to give Little Wild Horse a ride!

Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyons are part of the San Rafael Swell near Goblin Valley State Park in central Utah (just north of Hanksville).  I knew I would not have time to do the full 8-mile loop of both canyons, so Suzanne recommended I just try Little Wild Horse, the narrower and prettier slot of the two.

Not knowing how crowded the trailhead might be, I parked the Winnie at the turnoff to the State Park, and left Millie to take a nice long afternoon nap as I packed up my camera gear and drove the Tracker down to the trailhead.

It was a gorgeous, sunny, slightly cool Fall day, and the cottonwoods were starting to turn vibrant gold.

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After a 1/2 mile walk, the gravel wash looked as though it was starting into a slot canyon, but after a few turns I discovered huge boulders blocking any further progress.  Hmm.  Looks like you’ve got to really WANT to get to these canyons!  I headed back out and found a new path up and over one of the canyon walls, and then finally arrived at the junction of the Bell and Little Wild Horse trails.

As I started down Little Wild Horse, I could tell right away that this would be a very special day.

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The canyon even shared a few heart-shaped rocks and heart-shaped alcoves with me.  Little Wild Horse was certainly love at first sight!

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Soon, it was abundantly clear -- I would not be hiking the full length of this 3+ mile canyon.

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I was too mesmerized by the glow, warmth, and smooth touch of the narrow canyon walls.   As the walls came closer and closer, I finally had to just give in and let the canyon suck me up and halt my tracks. 

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Now too spellbound and entranced to stop photographing every single inch of the warm, inviting stone that enveloped me.  Here, in this special place, I was “at one” with nature.

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What glory to experience such a wild and meandering river of rock!

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“Where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you - beyond that next turning of the canyon walls” – Edward Abbey

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The day was now fleeting. A retreat back to the wider open places was finally unavoidable.

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Yet…though my steps were retraced, my perspective now seemed forever changed.   While the magnificent vistas of the National Parks seen the past couple of weeks had certainly impressed me,  it took this short, intimate walk in a small slot canyon in the middle of Utah to remind me--

“All good things are wild and free.”
Henry David Thoreau
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I bid farewell to the San Rafael Swell as the sun was setting on the golden cottonwoods.  A no more lovely end to quite a restorative day.

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14 comments:

  1. You certainly captured the glow!! Loved your pics and was glad that you had a wonderful restorative day of it!!

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  2. Your pictures continue to amaze. You've captured the essence of canyon country!

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  3. How beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing such an inspiring hike.

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  4. Well, you certainly did that sweet little canyon justice!

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  5. You not only captured the beauty, but also the feeling in your photos. Breathtaking!!

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  6. Have enjoyed reading your blog the last couple of weeks. Wonderful pictures! The slot canyon looks like a greart place to hike! Not sure how long you'll be in Nevada but Lake Mead National Recreation Area has a small slot canyon called the Anniversary Narrows that you might enjoy checking out. Not as grand as Little Wild Horse.

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  7. Breath taking pictures. The canyon is just to great to miss.

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  8. Ahh Lynne, is just doesn't get much better than that. You have a particular talent for turning where ever you are into the most perfect spot. Great post and truly loved your shots.

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