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Day 4

Coyote Gulch 1999 - 2000
Adventure in the American Outback

Happy New Year!

Saturday, January 1, 2000   We awoke at 7:30 am to a slight scratching on the tent, which signaled gently falling snow. I jumped out to collect the clothing I had left out to dry last nite, took a few photos, and dived back in the tent. We had a shorter day hike planned today, and there was no point in starting it early if it was snowing. I had noticed that the overhang of the wall was dry underneath, so even if it turned to rain, we could cook breakfast and stay dry. We laid in bed for a bit longer, and the light snow eventually dwindled to a few stray flakes. There was not much accumulation, so photographing the scene did not take a lot of time. We drug ourselves out of our nice warm sleeping bags about 9 am. So by the time we were ready to start our day hike, it was just about 11 am. We hiked up Coyote Gulch for a ways, donning our rain gear about midway, as it started to sprinkle sleet. Even with gray, drippy skies, the canyon walls were lovely. About 11:45, it looked like it might break up, but it really started to rain. We turned up into the mouth of Sleepy Hollow, which is at 4,141963 Northing, and 493,189 Easting (Zone 12, of course). I had read in one of Steve Allen's Canyoneering books that the upper part of Sleepy Hollow was pretty good. Well, he is absolutely correct: after you must through maybe a third of a mile of vegetation, the canyon gets quite nice. Lovely water, pools, rock shelves, and huge alcoves. Spectacular alcoves. I think that one of the ones we were in was nearly as big as the one opposite the fin that contains Jacob Hamblen Arch. And not only that, the sun started to come out. We stopped a little after 1 pm to have lunch in a spot which looked like it might have sun on it for 30 minutes or so. Sleepy Hollow basically runs north/south, so there is very little time that the sun can reach the canyon floor. The warmth felt great, and it seemed to really cap off being in such a special place. Susie said it reminded her of being in Yosemite, given the big, steep walls.

We picked up, and figured we could proceed up canyon for a while, but we soon got to a spot where it quickly became clear that progress could only be achieved at a very high price. Directly in front of us, it seemed that the canyon walls had just collapsed, and giant house-sized boulders filled the draw. And then, about 100 meters from where we were standing, there was a huge pour-off, where the canyon narrowed down to maybe 10 meters across, and further progress would require a very good rock climber, with skills far beyond our qualifications. So we all concluded that it was a good time to turn around. We did, and got back down to where the Long Fork of Sleepy Hollow comes into the main fork. It was clear that there was no way you could get into or out of the canyon at this point, so I checked my copy of the hiking guide, and it mentions that if you travel down canyon for a while, you will come to a spot where you can friction walk up a steep slickrock wall, and get into the Long Fork. We soon found that spot, and Andy and Sue scrambled up. To me, it looked like more work than payoff, and I was starting to focus on the prospect of my afternoon bath, so Susie and I split off, and headed back down to Coyote Gulch. It was a beautiful walk, with the late afternoon sun out. We arrived at about 4:10, nearly 2 hours after turning around.

Susie got to work heating water, and she suggested that I use some hot water for my shampoo and bath. Given that it had been a particularly cold day, the idea of pouring warm water all over myself seemed particularly appealing. So we heated water, and I enjoyed a luxurious bath. Not as much water, but a lot warmer. Meanwhile, Andy and Sue had shown up. As he as unpacking his day pack, he realized that his fleece jacket was missing. Apparently, it was snagged by a branch and pulled out as he was going through vegetation. Sue had noticed that his pack was open, but neither of them had thought to check to ascertain if all the intended contents were there. They debated trying to retrieve it, but there was inadequate daylight, and trying to do it on a different route out seemed impractical, so someone, someday, will have themselves a nice fleece jacket when they pass through Sleepy Hollow. Meanwhile, I loaned him an extra PolarTec top I had with me.

This nite, we started dinner before dark. Both couples had brought some version of the southern tradition for New Year's Day: black eyed peas. I had never heard of eating back-eyed peas for good luck until I moved to the south, but everyone seems to do it, and I like them so why not. Our dish had been prepared a couple of weeks previously, when Susie made up a big pot with chopped ham, carrots, etc. We had dried two batches, and tested the reconstitution procedure at home. It had worked well, so we repeated the process in camp. Frankly, it tasted just as good as at home. No brownies for dinner. We had not brought 3 batches, only two. Besides, we had gone through an immense amount of fuel. Which was fine, because we had brought quite a bit, but it still was interesting to see how much you can use if you really want to. We built a small fire to burn some remaining trash, and roast the few remaining marshmallows, and decided at 8 pm or so that we had partaken of all the fun we wanted for our first day of the 2000's, so we headed off to bed.

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Roger A. Jenkins, 2000