Canyonlands: Tales from Narrow Places

On the road again

Posted in Utah by canyoneering on April 6, 2010

The Mittens, Monument Valley

Just on the heels of our canyoneering trip to the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument I found myself making the long trek back to Southern Utah just several weeks later. This time with a slightly different crew and delving into new territory exploring canyons in Cedar Mesa and North Wash.

You may have noticed that my good friend and canyoneering partner, Chris has been absent in canyon trips of recent. Chris who has been a regular fixture on this blog moved to LA in the summer of 2009 where he has been going for his Masters in Economics at Cal State Fullerton. In fact the last time I saw Chris was at the end of that crazy day when we descended Englestead Hollow. Anyhow, Chris was on spring break and instead of heading to Lake Havasu like he normally does, (just kidding) Eric and I jumped at the chance to spend some time with the college boy in quite simply the best way there is to spend time.

After I picked Chris up at Sky Harbor the night before we rendezvoused at Eric’s in the AM to pack the car, deja’vu. The miles north blew by as the three of us caught up and before we knew it we were getting deeper and deeper into our beloved Colorado Plateau. We made a quick side trip to the Monument Valley Tribal Park visitor’s center where we were afforded stunning views of  “the Mittens” and Eric added to his magnet collection.

Chris (left) and Eric take in the Valley of the Gods from the Moki Dugway.

Further north we crossed the San Juan River and climbed the Moki Dugway out of the Valley of the Gods. The Moki Dugway, also spelled Mokee and Moqui was a road built in the late 1950s by a mining company to transport the uranium ore from Cedar Mesa down into the valley. This stretch of road was new for all three of us and unexpected. As we approached the edge of the Valley of the Gods towards the steep mesa on the paved two-lane highway I was wondering where the road was going to go. As we got closer I could see the pavement turn to well graded gravel and steeply switchback up the near vertical cliffside. Halfway up we pulled off to the side of one of these hairpin turns and took in the tortured rock that extended as far as the eye could see.

Gaining the mesa our surroundings changed dramatically, as the sparse landscape was now covered in shrubs and juniper trees. Around this time we began noticing the adjacent dirt roads to the highway appeared to consist of a sloppy, clay like mud consistency. This was concerning as our destination consisted of traveling on one of these roads. The deeper we got into Cedar Mesa the more spectacular it became as were surrounded by giant mesas colored white, red and green from snow, earth and vegetation, respectively. Canyons dropped abound and before not too long we turned off the highway onto a dirt road and crossed White Canyon, a significant canyon that drains Cedar Mesa directly into Lake Powell. The road was surprisingly dry and in good condition and we reached our campsite without too much trouble.



One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. […] Read “On the Road Again” […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: