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Horseshoes & Hoodoos

So we’d been hearing about these hoodoos, a pillar of rock, usually of fantastic shape, left by erosion and we’d read about a hike in Big Water, UT that trekked you out along a wash to the Paria Rimrock Toadstool Hoodoos. It was a 45 minute drive out to the trailhead and then a 3.8 mile round trip hike so 2 hours, plus lunch, but as we often say to each other, “What else do we have to do today?” We’d spent the previous day lounging around the RV, cleaning, writing and sitting in the sun so we definitely wanted to get out and exercise. The clouds suggested that we take care to dress accordingly which meant layers. We also put our coats in the car, our lunch and our new walking poles and camel back.

The first mile and a quarter was essentially flat, but through the deep sand in the wash with banks along the sides that undulated in height from knee to eye level as it curved and twisted into the canyon.

A look back at the canyon and the trail

A look back at the canyon and the trail

Along the way we were experimenting with our new poles. We only bought one set thinking we would test them out before investing in a second pair and we took turns with them trying out different stick tempos and placement strategies. I was not really a fan of the poles, but Ali did invent a sort of baton twirl flourish during the forward pole movement that I really liked. The drum major in her required the flare. Finally we settled in on just one pole for each of us. There was also our new camel back which we’d “cleaned and prepared” with lemon juice. No deal. Just like a chardonnay picks up a buttery oaky flavor from the barrel, our water picked up a cancery plasticy flavor from the bag. Not to mention the insane sucking action that was required just to get a trickle out of the mouthpiece, but more on that later.

Soon the trail started taking us uphill and then we came around a big bend in the wash and BAM, there they were, HOODOOS! I got so frickin’ excited I jogged up the sand dune and the last bit of trail that was gating my access to this open plateau of crazy fun rocks.

At the base of the Hoodoo Plateau

At the base of the Hoodoo Plateau

Toadstool Hoodoo

Toadstool Hoodoo

I know everyone's already thinking it, so no need for a caption here

I know everyone’s already thinking it, so no need for a caption here

There were a few other people wandering around when we got there, but essentially we had this magical place all to ourselves to explore however we wanted. We pulled ourselves up into the narrow channels in the bases of the rock formations, we did a circuit around several of the tallest, funniest looking hoodoos, and I even ran up a giant rock side slope to see what was on the other side. It was like being in a Star Trek movie, so other-planet-looking. It was like being a kid.

King of the Hill

King of the Hill

Queen of the Bottom of the Hill

Queen of the Bottom of the Hill

As we were running around, the wind had picked up and it had gotten maybe 5 degrees cooler so we decided it was probably time to find a place to eat our lunch and get started on the return trip. Mistakenly, we headed back down and over to the end of the trail and the sand dunes to eat. Duh! Don’t be near sand in the wind if you can help it, especially if you are eating, crunch, crunch. During lunch I decided it was time to inspect the camel back and find out what the heck was wrong with the “sucking-part”. I used several different bite angles on the mouthpiece trying to find the right one that would open the hole enough to allow me to suck out a reasonable amount of water. Suck, suck, suck, bah! I tried holding the bag differently using gravity to help the flow of water in the hose. Suck, suck, suck, bah! I checked all the hose connections. Suck, suck, suck, bah! Zero luck, but now I have fish-face cheeks, a stomach-ache from all the air I’ve swallowed and I’m still thirsty, so I go for the big guns, unscrew the fill cap and try to drink out of that opening.

This photo was snapped right as a bunch of water landed in my lap

This photo was snapped right as a bunch of water landed in my lap

[We’ve since fixed all of the issues with the camel back. No more bad taste and full sucking action success.]

It was definitely time to hike on out, now that I had a wet crotch. Along the way the wind started really whipping around us whenever we entered a shallower part of the wash. The sand in the bigger gusts was stinging our legs and arms, and coming up into our noses and under our sunglasses. We were really getting the treatment as the canyon opened up again closer to the end of the trail, then lo and behold, the quintessential desert tumble weed bounced right over the bank of the wash and hit Ali smack in the tummy. PHOTO OP! “I don’t care how much sand you’re getting up your nose, I need a picture of that. Face into the wind and SMILE!”

I've got a situation here

I’ve got a situation here

Shortly after this photo I had to tie my long sleeve shirt around my face to be able to breathe and stop making booger sand castles. Hiking in the wind is exhausting, like rain is chilling – hmmm what’s that make snow? My first thought used to be that snow is pretty, now it’s “goochy, goochy goo, SNOW! AAAAAAH!” Anyway, there’s something about having to press against the push of the wind with each step, the pressure or touch you feel from head to toe, the tug on your clothing, the stress of worrying about your hat blowing away, the reduced field of vision of squinting eyes, the spastic breathing from gusts going directly up your nose. “Here! Have some more oxygen punk!” This wind we’ve met in the desert is one tough cowboy.

It stayed big windy through the entire night and the whole next day. We rattled and shimmied and lost valuable real estate in our rig because the slides had to be in. We only went outside for things that couldn’t wait and then only for minutes at a time and we developed a serious case of IWS – Irritable Wind Syndrome. We played cards, watched movies, wrote in the blog, made meals, drank margaritas, fixed the crown molding piece that had bounced loose, took out the filter in the air return and washed it, did the same for the barbie vacuum and took the brush mechanism apart to pull out all the hair that had wrapped around it, we talked about the wind (in not so nice terms), drank more margaritas and like two prison inmates we dreamed of our escape from CELL BLOCK RV.

All RV’s have a business side and a fun side. The driver’s side is the business side where the poop tank is, the fuel tank, the generator cabinet, the electrical cord, the connection for the water line, and this is the side where our slides extend out. So our living room and bedroom slide out over these business items which means you take care of business before you put your slides out. The fun side is where the “front door” is, the awning, our outdoor radio, and it’s where we hang out for meals or whatever. Well, at Lake Powell our fun side was facing almost exactly due west which meant in the evenings we were treated to some spectacular sunsets while we finished dinner. (At least on nights when we weren’t held captive by Wyatt Wind.)

mmmmm

mmmmm

However, that meant that our business side was facing east and the orientation of our bed is such that our heads are up in the part that slides out. We have a window over our heads that is covered by a pull down blind, no make that a shade, no wait, what’s the difference? You decide. What we have does a good job of keeping someone from seeing what’s happening inside our rig – on visual protection, it get’s A. On light protection it get’s a D-, it’s about as good at blocking out light as Ali and I are at blocking a cocktail that’s headed for our lips. So you’re with me right? SUNRISE! The sun was like a little kid jumping onto our bed, straddling us and with a little warm finger, pulling up our eyelids to see if we were still sleeping.

“We’re up, we’re up!” It was our last full day of Lake Powell at the sun was out in full force and the wind had mosied along to another town. Yippee, let’s hike! Horseshoe Bend was the pick of the day and the trailhead was just outside of Page. From the parking lot, we couldn’t see anything, but after we plowed up a tall sand dune and reached the top, the horizon appeared and in front of that, the massive curved, deep cliffs left by the Colorado River. We ambled down the other side of the dune and continued out to the end of the trail where we met the solid rock edge and a heart-stopping view of the river below us.

The horizon came into view - and so did a green man

The horizon came into view – and so did a green man

Happiness

Happiness

Perspective - that's a boat zooming by

Perspective – that’s a boat zooming by

Fun in the rocks along the ledge

Fun in the rocks along the ledge

Magnificence

Magnificence

Horseshoe Bend was thrilling. I loved the freedom of walking that edge and daring to peer out and over and down. The sheer scale of what we were seeing was almost unreal. But of all the hikes that week, the crazy Hoodoos had won my heart. I guess Hoodoos are a lot like love and truffled mac and cheese, you never forget your first.