My father (or Bubba to his granchildren) is well-known for taking unsuspecting bystanders on grand and sometimes ill-advised adventures. I have many memories of setting off on a simple hike and returning with a ridiculous story to share. The fact that I’m still standing today means that he always managed to bring us home safely.
I am my father’s child.
From the road to our campsite we could see a really cool rock formation in the distance. Yesterday we inquired about it with the ranger and he produced a photocopy of a 12 year old BLM map with sketchy directions to a trailhead in the right vicinity. This morning we set off in search of our un-named formations. We found the trailhead, hiked to Moonshine Arch without much difficulty, and spent some time exploring and snacking.
But we knew the formations must be just a canyon or two away. We hiked over giant slabs of sandstone in search of a view of the formations. We got lucky and stumbled upon a “trail” marked with cairns. The trail headed in the right direction, so we followed it. After some steep traverses, we found a view of the formations. Lucky us! We spent some time soaking in the view.
But below us, a slot canyon beckoned. I proposed that we return to our car via this canyon, and much to my surprise, Robbie agreed. A trail appeared to run through the canyon. We could see a jeep track at the canyon exit that lead back toward our truck. The sky was clear, so no risk of a flash-flood. We checked our food and water and decided that we were properly equipped for this unplanned trek. Off we went in search of the canyon.
After an initial detour, we found the rather forbodeing entrance to the canyon, a 20’ slide of sandstone covered in silt. Not safe. Especially for a 7-year-old and a woman with a semi-functioning hip. Instead of taking this as a sign to go back, we scouted another entrance. It was steep and slippery, but short enough that the risk of injury was small. Robbie went first and cleared the way for C and me by dislodging many brick-sized rocks on his way in. We had to work together to help C down the first few drops, as her little legs simply weren’t long enough.
Entering the canyon
We continued to scramble over and under the boulders that filled the canyon. C’s a great climber, so she loved it. Up ahead, a little cottontail bounded happily along what I believed to be the impending trail. Just as we cleared the narrowest, boulder-strewn stretch, we encountered the thicket-of-doom. The entire width of the canyon was blocked by living and dead shrubbery. I searched high, Robbie searched low, but no path pierced the wall. We would have to go through it.
At this point, I thought of Bubba.
We contemplated going back, but we assumed the shrubbery would thin out. Neither of us wanted to climb what we’d just descended. We pressed on.
This thicket’s the thickest
The thicked-of-doom did it’s best to trap us forever, but nothing keeps an intrepid explorer from her destination. At times we commando-crawled under branches in the silt. Other times we created bridges with our legs for C to use. I had to use my hands to drag my exhausted leg through the worst of it. We just kept telling ourselves that it had to end soon.
And after an hour of canyoning, we emerged into the wide-open sagelands! Though we never found a trail, the jeep track was right where we expected, and we had a lovely hike back to the truck. We all agreed that the views and adventure were worth the difficult journey.