Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Moab, UT

October 17, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Just got back from 2 weeks in the high desert with Corrie and Toklat. We had plans for Corrie's 40th birthday to spend a couple weeks in France, but covid had other plans. Since we added the pup to our pack we had to avoid national parks when we wanted to hike. That meant hitting mostly USFS and BLM spots. It was nice exploring new trails in familiar areas. Having the pup also forced us to get up early to beat the heat which meant we got to watch the sunrise on our hikes without having to share the views with crowds. The first on the list was to hike Corona Arch. 

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After hiking in the morning and relaxing during the afternoon heat, we decided to do a picnic dinner up in the iSky district of Canyonlands. Once we made it out to the end of the road, we cracked open the wine and charcuterie and took turns staying in the parking lot with Toklat since pets weren’t allowed on the overlook or trail. When it was my turn, I saw someone on the paved overlook with a dog who walked right past the “no pet” sign. I thought to myself, “whatever, it’s just along the sidewalk portion of the overlook.”

I shrugged it off and set out down the trail to snap a few photos. When I was hiking back up the trail the dog owner I saw earlier was coming down the trail with his dog so I politely said, “you might have missed the sign (he didn’t), but pets aren’t allowed on the trails.” He responded, “sorry I didn’t want to leave my FAMILY member at the trailhead.” For whatever reason that really rubbed me the wrong way. As a new pet owner I’m just now starting to notice how limiting parks are when it comes to pets, but we don’t get to pick and choose what rules to follow in parks. And while I’m on my soapbox, people who falsely claim their pets as service animals is also crap. I’m curious if anyone else out there feels the same way or if I’m the only one.

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The following morning we headed out to Fisher Towers for sunrise. This was a new hike for all of us. It's super fun, but there are a few ladders that might be tough for bigger dogs since you have to lower them up and down the ladders.

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At the end of the trail we found a nice spot overlooking the canyon and cracked some breakfast beers.

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The rest of the day we spent along the river to keep cool, and then went out for our anniversary dinner. The next day we drove over to Escalante and checked into our campsite.

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After our quick stop in Moab, we headed west to Escalante where we camped for the week. The first day we decided to drive around the area and pop into a few places, including Bryce Canyon since my buddy Chris had never been. No matter how many times you see the Amphitheater, it never gets old. We didn’t hike this time because we had Toklat with us, but it was nice to soak in the views from the rim.

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On the drive back to camp we saw a sign for the Toadstool Hoodoos Trail. We were sick of being in the car so we decided to hike the short distance even though it was a little hot outside. We around plenty of water to make sure everyone stayed cool.

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The following day was a trip to Zebra Canyon. Chris' cousin Brian met up with us and its was a new hike for everyone. This place had been on my list since I lived in Moab, eight years ago. We set out early and were the only people on the trail.

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We didn't know what to expect, but when we got to the canyon there was about three feet of standing water. We all took our shoes off and made our way though. We also took turns passing Mr. T through obstacles so he didn't get stuck of have to get wet. Lucky boy.

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Eventually you get to the back part of the slot where you can tell how the canyon got its name. It's not very big, so if it were crowded I could see that being an issue, but it was cool to have it to ourselves.

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On the hike out we came across a few groups so it seems like we planned it perfectly. From there we headed over to Devils Garden to check out Metate Arch.

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Back at camp we grabbed showers and relaxed before heading out to watch the sunset.

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Another day and another hike, this time to Lower Calf Creek Falls. The cool morning air filled the canyon and the cottonwood trees were just starting to change color.

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There was a good amount of people at the falls, but it didn't feel crowded. We chilled our beers in the water and took a swim to cool off. It's pretty crazy how lush this canyon is compared to a lot of the surround areas. Gotta love water in the desert.

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Chris had to peel off this day, so it was just the three of us again. This time we planned to hike the Willis Creek Narrows. The road to get to the trailhead was too much for our Subaru to handle, it was only jeeps and trucks at the trailhead. That didn't stop us though, we just had to walk the road for a mile or so. And we were glad we did because this canyon was freaking AWESOME! It's not as narrow as Zebra, but it's like three miles long. It's a great place to escaped the heat and plus there was water for the dog the entire time. I would definitely go back here again.

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Back at camp we hung out, drank beers, made a fire, and relaxed. 

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Today's adventure we planned to hike "The Box." There are a few ways to do this hike, the most popular being a shuttle and hike it all downhill. Since we didn't have two cars and we were limited on mileage with the pup, we decided to just hike it from the lower trailhead.

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It was a lot of creek crossings and neither of us wanted wet feet so we stopped a lot. Eventually you climb out away from Pine Creek and get cool views of the canyon.

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Once we figured we were far enough, we found a spot in the shade to crack beers and have lunch before turning around. It would be nice to do this hike again with the shuttle.

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Our last day in the area we decided to hike out to Escalante Natural Bridge. Fall colors were looking nice and this time we hiked in our Chacos because we knew we were doing a lot of river crossings.

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Eventually we made it out to the natural bridge, which was cool, but we also unexpectedly came across a petroglyph panel. I think this was my favorite part of the hike.

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There was also some ruins next to the panel, not sure how people got up there to build a dwelling.

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After the hike we drove over the Burr Trail Road to Singing Canyon, a nice walkable canyon right off the road. All the way at the back we heard some voices and as we got back there we saw some people canyoneering. The dude was coming off a HUGE rappel. 

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After the hike we drove back to camp and made a few pit stops to take photos from the overlooks.

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We were bummed that we weren't able to do the France trip, but this was a nice consolation prize. I really love the Colorado plateau and I hope to spend even more time there in the future!


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