Tags

Related Posts

Share This

Butch Cassidy and the Sun Nap Kids

Scenic Highway 12 from Bryce to Capitol Reef is one of the most beautiful thrilling drives I’ve ever taken, but it got the best of me. The blind hairpin turns, steep elevations, and sharp drop offs on both sides pumped me so full of adrenaline and anxiety I finally gave in and asked Ali if we could take off the car and drive the vehicles separately. I wanted Lucy, the RV, to be as agile and light as she possibly could be on this harrowing road. Ali was driving the rig and she felt fine, said it was a challenge and required a lot of concentration, but she didn’t feel any of the danger I was feeling. She was trying to understand why I was so affected and if there was anything she could do to help, when I drew the comparison to how she felt about Angels Landing.

We had pulled over and stopped on a shoulder at the crest of some unreasonably high mountain to take the car off the tow bar. A hawk flew overhead and screeched in our direction as we stood there reveling in the “OH! Now I get it” moment we were having with each other. I hadn’t really understood her fear of the harrowing hike and she hadn’t really gotten my fear of the harrowing road, but now we had a full mind-meld going on. To be harrowed or not to be harrowed, no longer a question.

If I’m completely honest about the root of my fear, it’s about control, about being a passenger. Allison is an excellent driver, she has never given me a reason to mistrust her skills and even if I am the one driving on the scary road there is still fear about one of my controlling mechanisms failing me, namely steering or brakes. Either way I’m a passenger relying on something outside of myself to keep me safe. Let’s face it, if I’d had to ride like a baby in a backpack on someone while they hiked me up Angels Landing, I’d have been the same nauseous freaked out nelly that I was as a passenger in a big fat RV on Scenic Highway 12. Because of control. I need to work on this more maybe.

Untethered, we continued our winding way through the gorgeous canyons and peaks, climbing up above the tree line where patches of snow still dotted the open fields, and then down again into thick pine forest that parted every so often to show us the bluest lake it had nestled in it’s center. We passed a group of 50 or more motorcycles heading the other direction and I took a moment to properly categorize that as a more scary passenger experience than in the RV. Maybe I could use that as a calming mantra – at least I’m not on this road on the back of a motorcycle.

We pulled into the small town of Torrey, UT, neighbor to Capitol Reef National Park and found our new home for 3 days at Thousand Lakes RV Park. There was a campground inside the park that we could have stayed at, but because they didn’t take reservations, we made the choice to confirm a place outside at a private park. (The Capitol Reef campground was beautiful, but full both days we visited.) Thousand Lakes didn’t disappoint, it had nice level spots, all services, and a beautiful setting.

Perfectly lovely backyard!

Perfectly lovely backyard!

However, that evening Wyatt Wind blew back into town, rattled us all night long and threatened to lock us up in cell block RV again the next day, but we bundled up, packed up the car and escaped into Capitol Reef just like Butch Cassidy did when he was evading the law. It’s true! They even named an arch in the park after him, the Cassidy Arch. Since the wind was so big we expected to spend most of the day in the car driving through the park, just making short visits to the overlooks and the visitors center, but as the afternoon went on and once we got deeper into the canyon the weather lightened up and we were able to explore.

Still windy - Ali saved my hat from blowing off just as I took this pic

Still windy – Ali saved my hat from blowing off just as I took this pic

Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock

Shortest hike of the trip

Shortest hike of the trip

Another Goosenecks - entrenched meandering river

Another Goosenecks – entrenched meandering river

A perch

A perch

A view of the "fold" - the rock plate that tipped up to make Capitol Reef

A view of the “fold” – the rock plate that tipped up to make Capitol Reef

Castle Rock behind the Visitors Center

Castle Rock behind the Visitors Center

Down in the canyon of Capitol Reef was an old Mormon pioneer town called Fruita that is preserved as part of the park. Along with a barn, a blacksmith’s shop and a few other buildings, the Gifford Farm House is still standing. It’s both a museum and a store/bakery where you can purchase a freshly made personal-sized fruit pie and ice cream. Guess what we had for lunch?

The barn

The barn

The pies

The pies

The meadow

The meadow

The horses

The horses

With the sun out, the wind tamed and a shared cherry pie snuggled nicely in our bellies we set off on the 8 mile scenic drive which is paved, but has two dirt roads that spur off – to Grand Wash and Capitol Gorge. First we drove down the bumpy dirt road to the parking area at Grand Wash. The walls of the canyon shot straight up around us as we wound through. We didn’t plan to hike far or seriously, but we did wander down the wash enjoying the view and found the trail head for Cassidy Arch. I talked Ali into starting up the trail and quickly got excited because it was one of THOSE. A spunky trail with climb to it, big rock steps, switchbacks, a trail that reminded me of Angels Landing, sans chains and it took you to an arch – yippee. We decided to come back the next day to hike that trail.

Deep in the canyon

Deep in the canyon

Hey it's a throne!

Hey it’s another perch

Peek-a-boo - taken through a small hole in a rock

Peek-a-boo – taken through a small hole in a rock

Next we drove back out to the road and down to the Capitol Gorge trails. The gorge was an actual through road from 1884 to 1962, only wide enough in some places to fit just one car. The early Mormon pioneers who helped clear the road and traveled it carved their names in the cliff walls at Pioneers Register. We walked a mile down the gorge to see the carvings.

Walking down the Capitol Gorge

Walking down the Capitol Gorge

Pioneers Register

Pioneers Register

The next day we got up early, ear plugs had helped us sleep a little better through the wind, we packed a lunch, lots of water and every camera we own and headed back into the park to hike the Cassidy Arch Trail. It was much colder that day, but thankfully the wind stayed mild. We both wore lots of layers and our stocking caps and I wore my GoPro camera and so that I could record our hike up to the arch.

Layered and GoPro'd

Layered and GoPro’d

Here’s a 6 minute condensed video of the hike set to Ravel’s Bolero. Ali thinks it’s a little long, but heck I cut 1 hour down to 6 minutes!

The 1.5 mile trail ended at the TOP of the arch, but the best view was from about a quarter of a mile away. We decided we’d prefer that view with our lunch, so we off-trailed a bit and found a big secure rock ledge that was in the sunshine and had a picnic. Didn’t take but a few minutes post-hike, post-lunch, and warm sun to induce a little nap right there – where maybe Butch Cassidy himself had rested for a spell.

The Sun Nap Kids

The Sun Nap Kids

Cassidy Arch

Cassidy Arch