Well, it has been a while since our last blog. Oh wait, we just checked and it has been over seven months! So why the lengthy break? It would appear to be caused by (1) an extended period of living in our home in Boulder City without much travel, and (2) a combination of blogging fatigue and laziness. Our main reason for maintaining this blog since going full-time in 2010 has been to document interesting locations and experiences we encounter in our travels. Since our last blog from Colorado we returned to Nevada and have spent most of the time there, enjoying visits from family and friends and exploring the area around Lake Mead. Many of the hikes we have done there are repeats that we have included in blogs from previous visits so we didn’t want to repeat ourselves.
We did take the motorhome to Borrego Springs, CA for the month of January for some time on the golf course and spending time with friends Dave and Sue (Beluga’s Excellent Adventures). But since we have blogged about that area numerous times during previous visits, we didn’t really have anything new to add (combined with that phenomenon called laziness).
Our plan was to hit the road again in early March, taking advantage of Spring weather and pre-vacation crowds. But Pam’s mother, who lives in northern New York, decided to sell her house and move into an apartment. She is getting up there in age (although still healthy and active) and needed our help for the move. So we recently flew east (on an airplane) to Baltimore, rented a pick-up, and headed north. After an overnight in York, PA to visit our daughter, Jessica, we drove to the St. Lawrence River town of Clayton. It took a few days but before we left Fran was comfortably set up in her new apartment.
So now we’re back in the west and off on a new adventure. Tentative plans are to go north into Montana with a goal of visiting the capitol city of Helena, before circling back to the south. With stops along the way in both directions, we will travel for about six weeks before returning to Boulder City.
Right now we are at our first stop in Kanab, UT, a small town just north of the state line with Arizona on the west side of Utah. We stayed here years ago on a whirlwind motorcycle trip but didn’t get a chance to explore the back roads and hiking trails.
Our first adventure was a visit to the Grosvenor Arch, a unique sandstone double arch located in the western portion of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The arch is along Cottonwood Canyon Road, a 48 mile dirt road that runs between UT-12 near Kodachrome State Park in the north, and US-89 in the south. The road is sometimes a bit narrow and can become impassible during bad weather. We have attempted to visit this arch twice on previous visits to the area. Our first attempt, from the north, was stopped by heavy rains which made the road a muddy mess. A few years later we were staying in Page, AZ near Lake Powell and tried a visit from the south but the road was closed due to winter damage. Sue and Dave visited the area about a month ago and reported that the road had been recently graded and was in good shape. We didn’t want to miss this opportunity, so we headed there on our first day in Kanab.
To get to the arch we drove about 45 miles east on US-89. The only danger on that road is the chance of getting run over by the numerous tour buses traveling between Kanab and Page. While the road is fairly straight and paved, getting passed by a 45 foot bus while you are going 70 is a bit disconcerting. While slowing to make the turn on to Cottonwood Canyon Road we had a close encounter with a bus whose driver was apparently unable to see our left turn signal.
Turning to the north on Cottonwood Canyon Road we settled in to enjoy the beautiful scenery on the 30 mile trip (18 miles if you come in from the north). The photos below show just a hint of the beauty along the drive.
We arrived at the arch to find a small parking area with three other cars. The site is well maintained and has an outhouse restroom and cement picnic tables. There is a concrete sidewalk that goes almost to the base of the arch. The first thing we did was to sit at one of the tables and enjoy a “lunch with a view.”
Grosvenor Arch is actually two sandstone arches towering 150 feet above the ground. Originally called Butler Arch, it was re-named by a National Geographic Expedition after Gilbert Grosvenor, an early president of the National Geographic Society and the first full time editor of National Geographic Magazine.
A short hike around the back of the rock formation reveals a double window in one of the peaks above the arch.
The desert is still in bloom, with some Claret Cup and Evening Primrose near the arch.
About five miles south of the arch is the trailhead for Cottonwood Narrows. There are actually two trailheads about a mile apart. You can make this a loop hike by hiking the canyon and returning on the road. We parked at the lower trailhead and hiked up the canyon. But instead of returning on the road we hiked back down the canyon, as the views in the opposite direction are always so different (and more interesting than the road). The hike through the canyon is designated as moderate, but if you start where we did, there is a bit of rock scrambling before things level out. It is suppose to be a mile and a half one way, but we found it to be a bit more than two miles.
Returning to the Jeep we continued down the road for another ten miles (14.5 miles from US-89) to the Lower Hackberry Trailhead.
This moderately hike is one of the more scenic and popular canyon routes in the area. The trail really just follows a stream bed through a cool canyon. Backpackers follow the stream for many miles into the wilderness for overnight adventures. We just went about a mile up the canyon to enjoy the water and soaring cliffs.
In the early spring you spend most of the hike walking in the ankle deep stream. The water has receded enough now for us to just need to wade in some shallow water as we made our way up the canyon.
After a long day of driving and hiking, we enjoyed a nice meal at on of the local restaurants. We’ll be here for a week and have a number of adventures planned.
More on those later . . .