Thursday, 18th of April 2013 at 08:54:44 PM

Canyonlands 2013 day 6: Coyote Gulch

Today was completly reserved for hiking the Coyote Gulch. I had been here in 2009, but hat entered only 2 miles up the canyon due to limited time. Honestly I was little bit unsecure if I might have planed a too long hike. This time by overnighting and the trailhead I could start as soon as it began to dawn (5.30am). It is a 1.9 mile hike down to the “Crack in the Wall”, one of only 3 possible access points to the Canyon. At the crack I arrrived in time to admire the sunrise over the lower escalante canyon.

Sunrise seen from atop Crack in the Wall

The crack in the wall is very narrow opening of two sandstone ledges and I had two remove all my stuff from the backpack and go 3 times through the crack carrying camera gear, water and the empty backpack separately through the crack. The crack at its narrowest point is only about 0.3 m wide. Thus big people wouldn’t fit through it.

After the crack opens the magnificent panorama of lower Escalante Canyon and confluence of Coyote Gulch. Now the trail leads down a steep sand dune, which is great to hike down but definitely strenuous hiking back up. The elevation difference is about 700 feet. It is a 0.9 mile hike down the sand dune to reach the canyon bottom. I had planned a total 30 km / 18 miles hike and was concerned how many energy would be left at the end of the day, to climb up the sand dune back to the car. Down in the canyon you just walk up the Coyote Gulch, often you need to walk through the water which is fun and refreshing. I had brought my water shoes for this, to not ruin my good hiking boots. The Gulch is very scenic but due to its remoteness and difficult access you find few people down there. Hiking in 2009 I did not see a person beside me. This time near the Cliff Arch I met a group of 4 photographer’s with heavy digital medium format cameras.  It was interesting to see them work with their specialized cams. I was curious and chatted with one of them. It was Landscape photographer Joseph Holmes, which I did not know but looked up later with Google.  This guy was very likeable and he patiently answered all my questions although he was in the middle of shooting a motif. He had really a positive aura, liked him immediately.

Joseph Holmes photographing in Coyote Gulch

I met those four photographers again on my way back out of the canyon. Now i continued towards my target which was Jacob Hamblin Arch, it is located 6 miles up the canyon. I arrived there at 10.30 am. It is a gigantic arch and was hard to photograph, cause the sun lit it only partly and there was much shadow too.

Jacob Hamblin Arch

I began my hike back at around 11 am. I knew that know the light for photographing was infavorable but consoled myself that my main purpose was to reach Jacob Hamblin Arch. I arrived at 12.30 pm at the Coyote Natural Bridge.

Coyote Natural Bridge

The next landmark towards the confluence with Escalante river was the Cliff Arch were I arrived around 1.30 pm.

Cliff Arch

And finally at 3pm I was at the bottom of the sand dune. I had become already very tired, but now I had to master this last challenge. I took some photos in the middle of the sand dune where there is the best view to the whole panorama including Stevens Arch. Then again the three times walking back and forth in the Crack and the final 1.9 miles up to the trail head over slick rock and sand. I was back at the car at 5.30pm. I grabbed a fresh coke and drank it at once. I had carried too little water on this hike. A long hiking day from 5.30am to 5.30pm.

The drive back to Escalante took me 1h45. 10 miles along the Fortymile ridge road and then back on Hole in the Rock road.

last 2 miles to the trailhead is deep sand

I had a short stop at Devil’s Garden of Grand Staircase Escalante, but came too late for good photos. Sun was already down to much.

Metate Arch in GSENM’s Devils Garden

Hiking Mileage today:   29 km / 18.1 miles

Hiking Mileage total:    91.8 km / 57.4 miles

curious incidents today:

1) meeting Joseph Holmes

2) Believe it or not. I hiked onto a snake while watching into my GPS. Luckily that snake was more frighten than me. Did not know that they can run that fast. What a coward. It was now rattler, but did not recognize what it is. Frightened myself I checked my legs for bites afterwards.

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