Monday, March 19, 2012

Back from the desert

 Bei playing with fire in the San Rafael Swell.
(Click any photo for larger view)

The weather in Southern Utah treated us well during our spring break last week, and then we returned to Laramie to find 65 degree sunshine--almost unheard of in mid-March and just a little ominous in a climate change sort of way.  I'm reluctantly back at work with lots to do before I can write a proper blog post about the trip, but here are a few photos.  We spent a night in the San Rafael Swell on our way south and walked the loop up Wild Horse Canyon and down Bell Canyon, about 8 miles altogether of fun narrows and easy hiking.  Then we spent the bulk of our week backpacking in and out of Silver Falls Creek Canyon to the Escalante River, with a day hike up Harris wash on the other side of the river (the river crossing is easy and shallow...but cold!).  

Silver Falls is not the most exquisite Escalante canyon I've walked through, but it was nice, and Harris Wash was spectacular.  New and unusual for me was Ellen and Bei's sighting of 2 bighorn sheep near the river.  I've seen them in the mountains but never in the desert.  They watched us with mild interest as we jockeyed for a better viewpoint from the slabs below.  I also found an old bourbon bottle eroding out of the bank of Silver Falls Creek near an abandoned corral.  It was empty.  

Silver Falls was a route used by Mormon settlers in the 1800s--they somehow pulled wagons through this canyon and Harris Wash to gain access to southern settlements like Bluff.  Along the canyon are names and dates hacked into the sandstone often with axes, which have a certain charm just by virtue of their history and age.  

OK--welcome back.  More later...

Little Wild Horse Canyon.  San Rafael Swell.

Bei in Silver Falls Creek Canyon, Escalante.

Bighorn sheep in Silver Falls Creek Canyon, near the Escalante River.

Dusk on our last night in Silver Falls Creek, Escalante.

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