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Day 8

Wolverine Creek to the Upper Gulch
Saying Goodbye to the Escalante

Petrified canyon ...

Saturday, May 5   Boy, it was one of those nights: we got up about 12:20 to pee, and the stars were just glorious. Like something out of a nature photography book. At 2:30, we were awakened by the pitter patter of little drops on our tent. By 4 am, I was ready to go out and take another leak, but hated to get out in the rain, so I waited. And waited. At 5:30, I heard other tent zippers being opened, and realized it had stopped raining, so I got out, did my thing, and crawled back in again. The next thing I knew, it was light and 7:20 am. It was also relatively cold: 36 degrees, cloudy and looking like rain or snow was threatening. Not an auspicious morning. When I crawled out of the tent, I could see fresh snow on the trees that lined the top of the canyon rim. So the first pitter patters were probably from snow, or sleet.

We all had breakfast together, but Terri and Barbara took off right away, saying that they wanted to see as much as possible. Andy and Sue had decided to head for Lamanite Arch, maybe 5 miles up canyon. John, Ron, Susie and I decided we would wait just a bit longer in our tents, just to let it warm up a tad, maybe to the low 40's, before we started walking. It was here that I screwed up: Susie and I were looking at photos on the screens of our digital cameras in the tent, when I rolled over slightly to the right, and realized that I must have just pulled a muscle in my back. Did not hurt a lot, but I could feel something was not right.

Four of us left camp about 10:45 or so, with our goal being to get into the first side canyon on the right above camp. We noted that the path was good, and made for easy and quick walking, if we had not been so distracted by all the pieces of petrified wood in the canyon bottom. Little chunks, pieces, big chunks. You name it, and it was there. Very lovely and in a beautiful setting. The walls of the canyon were really magnificent. I guess I had not thought of visiting here before, but it is certainly worth a couple of nights. At this time of year, it seemed to us that the water flow above the mouth of Water Canyon was pretty good. Maybe last night's rain and snow had helped, but I had the sense that the water had been flowing well before the rain. Of course, things could change in a month or so. Despite occasional patches of sun, the temperature remained cool. Most of us wore rain gear, hats, etc. I ended up hiking all day in shorts and rain pants. Pretty amazing.

We got to a nice flat rock in the side canyon and ate lunch, and decided to go on just a bit further. We got to where we said we would turn around and then decided to go yet just a tad further. Lots of interesting rock and petrified wood. And for a while, the sky was actually blue. We did turn around at around 1:30 and headed back to camp, getting in around 3 pm. The temperature had not climbed much: it was 51 degrees. Nevertheless, the sunshine attracted me to the creek and bath time. By the time we returned, Andy and Sue were back, having covered probably 9 - 10 miles, to our measly 5.5 or so. They reported that the Lamanite Arch was spectacular, and the walking pretty easy until one turns into the side canyon that contains the arch. Barbara and Terri got back late, reporting that they had turned up the main canyon after leaving the side canyon containing the arch. Then, they went into the mouth of Egg Canyon a ways before heading back to camp. I figure they must have covered close to 15 miles that day. Some layover. Barbara did report finding a spectacular piece of petrified wood. The photos confirm that she won the prize for locating such. Pretty amazing.

We gathered for dinner, Susie and I having an old standby: Lipton Broccoli Cheddar and rice with dried tuna. Quite a come down from the Hamburger Helper Beef Stroganoff I had made the previous evening, but it was tasty. As it was our last night of the trip, we had planned to sit around and chat for a while, but the 44 degree temperature encouraged us to keep the chatting short. Susie did ask a question: what piece of clothing had no one seen her wear on this entire trip? I knew the answer, but no one else did: her bug net. And she was right. This had been the most bug free canyon trip we had taken in as long as I could remember. No mosquitos, no flies and mainly no no-see-ems. So it had been a good trip.

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To view supplemental photos of this trip, go to our TwoHikers PicasaWeb gallery.

Roger A. Jenkins,Suzanne A. McDonald, 2007; Photo of petrified wood chunk on ground Ronald E. Shrieves, 2007; Photo of Lamanite Arch Andrew P. Butler, 2007