A guest post by Bedrock Ambassadors about their experience hiking Glen Canyon.
Joffrey and Annie are recovering academics, living in their van for the year. As they explore the US, they climb, backpack, and romp around the wilderness eating a lot of peanut butter and cereal. Bedrocks protect their feet from everything but getting properly dirty. Follow their adventures at prejoyful.com and @prejoyful.
Sometimes you need that weekend getaway trip - the one that rejuvenates and recharges you, and prepares you for another week. It turns out you need those weekend trips even when you live in a van. They just don’t have to be on weekends!
Joffrey and I have been traveling and living in our van for nine months. We enjoy the luxury of hiking and climbing and being wherever we want to be. But sometimes life in the van can feel just as hectic, unorganized, and tiresome as our old work-week schedules.
We need those short, logistically easy, and freeing weekend trips just as much as we ever did. Feeling burned out on vanlife and generally the hot desert southwest, we headed out to Grand-Staircase Escalante to hike into Coyote Gulch for an overnight trip. The planning was easy: get to the trailhead, fill out a permit, hit the trail.
After our 35 mile journey down Hole-in-the-Wall road (better referred to as Hole-in-Your-Car road) we arrived at the Hurricane Gulch trailhead, found a previously used pull-off to camp, and began packing. As usual, there was much debate regarding gear for this one night (Joffrey and I have a habit of making things as complicated as possible – something about being a mathematician and a physicist?).
After much debate about possible freezing temperatures, rain forecasts, lightening our pack loads, and what to eat for dinner, we settled on carrying trail runners and bedrocks for possible varying temperatures and water crossings, but went for our individual bivvies over a tent.
Walking down the dry gulch in the cool early morning temperatures helped me find my enjoyment of the desert again after one too many long hot days leading up to this trip. The loose gravel wasn’t particularly fun to walk in, but we were enjoying the blooming cactus flowers in vibrant pinks, yellows, and purples.
As we progressed, the Wingate sandstone surrounding the wash formed steeper walls, leading us deeper into the canyon. We crossed the boundary into Glen Canyon Recreation area, and soon began to encounter trees and trickling water.
The entrance into Coyote Gulch was beautiful. A wide, shallow, clear creek runs down the middle of the Gulch. The trail winds around this creek, crossing and re-crossing the cool, refreshing water. River shoes are a must, so we were thankful that we had brought our Gabbro and Earthquake sandals. We spent most of the day walking in the water. It was easier to follow than the trail, and the water warmed slowly throughout the day.
The trees had new leaves, enveloping us in the intense chartreuse green of early spring. This intense green provided an incredible contrast to the striking red walls of the canyon. We had been immersed in sandstone for months, but the color juxtaposition and lovely hiking reawakened our appreciation for these beautiful canyon lands.
This was one of those hikes that re-center us, reminding us what peace and happiness feel like. There’s a simple joy in going whatever pace you want, with little on your back, no weight on your feet, with the perfect breeze, spring blooms, and warm water rushing between your toes. No worries or stress about our next trip, or future homes, jobs, or families.
Towards the end of Coyote Gulch we followed a long sandy track upwards, away from the river. It took us up and up to Crack-in-the-Wall, a detached rock flake, which gives an access point to the canyon from the plateau. Crack-in-the-Wall requires sliding sideways through a narrow passageway between two slabs, walking across a ledge, sliding through another narrow rock section, to pop out onto the gently rolling sandstone plateau.
In our unplanned explorations of the area, we were happy to get fantastic views of the winding Escalante River and its bright green Cottonwood-lined banks. After playing in the formation, we quickly loped back down the sand dune trail and walked our way back up the Gulch to find a campsite.
We found a nice overhang to protect us from the possible rain, and cowboy camped after enjoying dehydrated leftovers. Bats darted in the dusk, and the sounds of the river lulled us to sleep.
We woke in the early morning, rolled up our bivvies, and were walking at dawn. The nasty weather forecast spurred us on. With no sunlight on the water, the river was cold, and we tried to follow the trail on the banks more than we had during the warm day before. As we walked through the canyons, clouds roiled overhead, and the white puffy clouds we saw at first light began looking much more ominous.
The silvery undersides of the Cottonwood leaves shimmered as gusts of wind shook the branches. We spotted a kingfisher skimming the creek and diving between the canyon walls. We put on our raincoats and walked on through the water and sand, the red canyon walls even more impressive against the dark clouds above. Trudging through the loose sand and gravel of the gulch, with heads down we stopped periodically to hide our faces from violent gusts of wind.
While the first day had reminded us what peace and happiness felt like, the second day quickly reminded that all things are transient. But a little prejoy, even on a weekend hike, only adds to the joy of completion. Eventually we were back at the van, sand-scoured, but recharged, pleased to be where we were, ready for more vanlife.
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