After my trip to Bryce Canyon, I loaded the truck with Marneé, my father, my mother and friend Bob and headed into the heart of the Staircase-Escalante National Monument. We drove down the washboard ridden Hole in the Rock Road to the trailhead of Coyote Gulch (Red Well). The two ladies and I descended into the canyon first, while my father and Bob shuttled a truck to our exit at Crack in the Wall.
With all canyons, the farther down you go, the larger and more dramatic the canyons walls become. At first, the canyon is shallow, maybe 200 feet deep, but by the third or fourth mile, the sky becomes a sliver, obscured by 800 foot walls. The sunlight and shadows dance with each other, creating temperature variances of 20 degrees.
We camped under the Jacob Hamblin Arch the first night, where there is a nature spring. The is probably the cleanest water in the world, filtered through layers upon layers of densly compacted sandstone.
Not all the beauty is confined within the canyon. If you have the scrambling skills, there are a couple of routes out of the canyon. There are two right by the first toilet. One heads south, right next to the toilet and the other route goes north, up the arm of Jacob Hamblin Arch.
As the canyon carves deeper into the sedimentary rock, it begins to take a different shape. The layers of rock become more pronounced, giving the canyon a tiered look. Up top, the Navajo Sandstone stands tall with it’s colossal shapes and gestures, towering over the crumbling lower layers of rock. And down below the river finds the easiest route, squeezing through boulders and cascading over ledges.
Our second night we camped two turns from the exit route, roughly a mile upstream from the confluence of the Escalante River. The night came quickly, as did our game of cribbage.
In the morning, we awoke to wispy clouds and a slight breeze. It was a tell tale sign that a storm was to come. We packed the bags and lugged them up to the crack in the wall, which is only wide enough for a human being.
Once we pulled up the bag, trying not to tear them too much, we headed across the open desert to the car, where surprisingly the beer was still cold.