November 26, 2014
“Life is what happens when you are making other plans” ~John Lennon
After being on the road for for three weeks, I have to agree with John Lennon on the subject of making plans. So far, all of our preconceived plans have turned into something other than what we expected. While on the road, plans of where you go and how long you stay are irrelevant when you have an unlimited amount of time.
While meandering around the visitors center at Dead Horse State Park in Moab, we came across a book titeled “Slot Canyons”. Seeing the photos of narrow, mysterious, slot canyons in this book sparked our interest of hiking in a slot canyon, so of course, we made it happen. After hearing about a slot canyon southwest of Moab, we decided to pack up and hit the road for our next destination, Goblin Valley State Park.
Goblin Valley State Park is nestled off the main highway, and is unique because of its towering rock formations and high desert climate. It was amazing to see the towering, red steeple like rocks that formed a “mountain”, and then the lower lying greyish, greenish rock ranges with endless crevasses running through their formations. I instantly felt like I was on a different planet, this unworldly place was like nowhere I have been before. Little did I know, Little Wild Horse Canyon, and Bull Canyon, the slot canyons we planned to hike, were like a Disneyland adventure ride.
After locating the trailhead and talking to a fellow hiker about the slots and crevasses, we decided we would set out early the next morning to hike through the 8 mile canyon. We found our camp spot for the night, just down the road from the trailhead in the wash area of the canyon. To our surprise, this spot made it in the top 3 camp spot on my “list of best camping areas.” Maybe because of the full moon and the light of the dark night sky that lit our little nook of a camp under the large sandstone walls and towering sand mountains in the backdrop, or because we were the only people there and the solitude of space surrounding us was freeing. After a short bike ride in the sunset, and a campfire under the bright light of the moon, I was so engrossed in the present, but was excited, like a child on Christmas morning, for our adventure the next day.
We awoke to the crack of dawn, packed up camp and headed to the tail head. After walking a short ways through a flashflood region of the canyon, wide, narrow, sandy road, we entered into Little Wild Horse Canyon. The canyon was at first wider, but quickly narrowed to where you could touch the walls on either side of you as you wandered through its winding walls. After hiking through the varying narrow rock forms for about a mile, the trail widened and we walked through a larger canyon until we came upon a road that circled us to the next canyon, Bull Canyon, where we would hike down and back to the trailhead. Through our section of non-slot canyon land, we were given a great view of the capitol reef to the west, which was composed of cragged rock formations of the most beautiful array of blue, green, grey, and tan colors. The variation of the views during this hike was spectacular. We dropped into the entrance of Bull Canyon, expecting to come across some pools of water that we would have to maneuver around. We outstretched our limbs from one wall to the other to cross the pools beneath us. One wall was too far of a reach for my short limbs, but I gave it a try anyways after taking off my socks, just in case I fell in. I made it most of the way, but then had to have Marty climb up to assist my climb over the pool. Teamwork, we made it! After a few challenging climbing maneuvers that boosted my climbing confidence, we made it to the bottom of the canyon. What an adventure through the meandering walls of the canyon and open fields of beauty, challenges, curiosity, wonder, and adventure.
Being in a slot canyon makes you feel as if you are on a different world and like you have entered into a place that is so sacred and different than normal everyday occurrences in life. Doing something you have never ventured out to do before gives you a sense of courage and accomplishment, which is how I felt after this unique hike. I am grateful that life happened as we were making plans and we ended up at this special place…more slot canyons to come.