Tuesday, August 18, 2015


The almost-thirteen-year-old at the aquarium

The almost-thirteen-year-old making faces.

The almost-thirteen-year-old backpacking at camp.

The thirteen-year-old's bearded armadillo cake.   Mmmm...chocolate...

Lunchtime decimation of rotisserie chicken by thirteen-year-old.  There was supposed to be enough left over for dinner.  (Woe.)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Tour of the West: Slot Canyons Part 3 -- Peekaboo and Spooky Canyons

And now for a truly entertaining canyon hike :)

The whole Tour of the West started with a map of part of Grand Staircase Escalante left over from a previous trip.  This map begat another map, which begat a whole collection of waterproof tearproof topo maps, which then begat a lovely little book entitled "Non-technical Canyon Hiking Guide to the Colorado Plateau".

Dangerous book to have for someone like me.  By the time we left on the trip, it was full of a veritable confetti of post-its marking interesting spots that might be near our route.  One thing was certain however -- if we did just one thing from the book, I wanted to do Spooky Canyon.

It had several good features:  located near Hole-in-the-Rock Road in GSENM where I knew we would be camping, good length for a day hike with the kiddo in tow, very narrow narrows, not anything a normal person would consider a trail while also not requiring ropes or real technical skills, and adjacent to another slot canyon (Peekaboo) that has arches.  I declared we must go.

Good choice.  I'd call it the best hike of the trip.

We started out parking at the Dry Fork Trailhead off of Hole-in-the-Rock Road and followed a set of cairns down into the main drainage.  Since this was the first canyon hike of the trip for us, I decided to go a little ways up a mellow side drainage first, just to get everyone warmed up and excited.

The practice canyon.  Generally easy walking,
 but it did narrow down in spots.

 We noticed that the lizards made good use of their claws on the sandstone,

 but didn't need claws ourselves.
 We found a little mud, but it was easy to avoid.

Friendly passers-by took a picture of the three of us.

 Soon we got to the top.  Are we having fun yet?


After that little diversion, we headed back down to the main drainage and over to the opening into Peekaboo Canyon.  After talking to another couple who headed in just before us, we used a scruffy piece of rope to aid us up into the entrance, after which things got immediately narrow and interesting.

Nimue contemplates a route

to avoid getting her feet in the slippery mud below.  I ended up wedging myself in place on this rock lip and giving both her and Chad a hand through this spot.

We were entrained with a few other folks throughout the canyon, giving help and encouragement all around as needed, as well as enjoying the exclamations of surprise coming from up the canyon from whoever was ahead at the time.  It was actually pretty entertaining watching others enjoy it as much as we were.

 There were four arches in Peekaboo Canyon

if you looked in the right place,

several mudpits,


and many vantage points from which to play peekaboo.  Aside from avoiding the mud, this was not at all difficult, especially given the high fun factor.

We eventually hit a point where one could climb up to the top.

Chad found a yucca pod

and then the yucca plant.

We hoofed a short distance across the top,

enjoyed the view,

and then found a route down into Spooky Canyon.  How can one *not* want to go somewhere called Spooky Canyon, especially after the neighboring canyon was so much fun?

Spooky started out seeming a lot like Peekaboo,

but quickly got even narrower.

At one point, there was an agglomeration of chokestones, leading to some question of the best route through.  Go over the top and do a wide stemming move to work your way down and hopefully avoid a long jump?  Yikes!  We found a small crevice to climb down earlier, with a smaller jump,  wriggled through the boulder cave, and helped the next group do the same.

There were a few parties going up in the opposite direction, leading to the added challenge of having to find passing zones.  Do you see a passing zone here??

Parts of this canyon were narrow enough to be sort of dark; thus the appellation "Spooky".

We liked it.  A lot!

Even after getting out, there were still interesting rock handholds to play with.

The adventure continued after we made a wrong turn heading back to the car.  I had to climb a small hill and scan the horizon for the glint of light reflecting off of the truck

while Nimue rested in the shade of a venerable old juniper. It was about 105 out at this point.

Eventually, the correct direction was ascertained, and we headed back across the main wash to the truck and the very welcome cold drinks waiting for us.

A most entertaining hike!