Coyote Gulch Backpacking (2018-03-26)

What originally started out as a trip with my friend Jeremy’s Boy Scout trip turned into a family outing with two dads, Jojo and Brian from the McCracken side, and Paige from the Brummett side. The five of us set out on Sunday night from Nevada, and were hit with an unexpected blizzard as we climbed the hill from St. George to Cedar City. We questioned the wisdom in the trip, but after double- and triple-checking the forecast, concluded that the trail should be cold, but free of snow. After making it into Escalante at 1:30PM, we decided that we shouldn’t go straight to the trailhead, and opted for a night in the newly opened Canyon Country Lodge after finding no other hotels open at that late (early?) hour. It was ridiculously expensive for what it was, but offered a good night’s rest. We woke the next morning to find the snow and ice had not hit Escalante, but the cold had!

We headed over to the Visitor’s Center to get our permits and found a beautiful newly-constructed building. The last time I was in Escalante was 10 years previous, so it was quite a site to see! After obtaining the requisite permit (free), we headed to the trailhead to set our shuttle. We decided on the route entering at Crack in the Wall and exiting at Red Well. This allowed for us to quickly descend and then slowly ascend over the course of several miles. Before heading to the Forty-Mile Ridge trailhead though, I saw that Dancehall Rock was less than a mile down the road from our turn off, and wanted to explore.

After checking out the historical marker and the site, we headed back to our trailhead and set off on our adventure!

We headed out across the slickrock, making good time to an overlook into the Escalante River. We went a little too far south, but corrected quickly to arrive at Crack in the Wall. This is a spot that requires a little downclimbing and some sideways shimmying. The final slot is too skinny for yours truly, and after getting stuck and unstuck, I opted for a much easier downclimb over the slot. We continued on down to Coyote Gulch, with great views of Stevens Arch. The whole route is a series of river crossings in shallow water, with steep canyon walls rising on both sides. The conditions were perfect, and the sun, breeze, and cool weather combined to make an awesome day. After about 6 miles, we called it a day, found a nice spot beside the river to stay the night, and setup camp.

The next morning dawned cold and beautiful. We packed up and headed out. Within 30 minutes, we came to Coyote Bridge, a natural bridge formed by the water working its way slowly through the rock. After a brief stop here and another to filter water, we continued on to Jacob Hamblin Arch. Jacob Hamblin was a man who figured prominently in the settlement of Southern Utah. After passing the arch, we continued slowly up the river, criss-crossing the river, enjoying the beautiful views.

Although we had originally planned to stay for a three days in the canyon, we were making good time and thought it would be easy enough to complete it in two. We continued up all the way to the confluence with Hurricane Wash. As the river continues up, the canyon walls lower and the wash widens. After a surprise short slot section, it finally opens up for good and the water dries up for the last couple miles to the car. We finished the hike with a number of short breaks that allowed tired legs to rest. We grabbed the second car and spent the night at the trailhead before leaving early the next morning. Awesome hike!

arizona canyon fun


Adam and Danny hit a canyon on the way back from scout camp in Arizona. Lucky Boys!


Danny had a blast getting wet!


Adam’s truck wouldn’t start when they exited the canyon. Luckily, there was a group a few hours behind them. The guys weren’t super pumped about spending another night in the 100 degree weather.  But seriously, what would a canyon with my husband be like without a slight mishap??

Rappelling at Red Rock

Being in this family means getting ready for canyoneering! Required skill #1 – rappelling. So, we took the kids out to Sandstone Quarry at Red Rock; first time for the littles. It was a bit cold and windy, but fun was had by all!

things change


Never a truer title for our Memorial Day tradition this year. Year five, and our group has grown by five–and a half (Jena is due anytime). Okay four of those were my kiddos, but still!!! This Memorial Day was interesting to say the least. Let’s see: camping instead of hoteling, cooking instead of eating out, and braving inclement weather instead of basking at the spa. Kids mess everything up! :)

Here we are hiking:
And building/racing boats:
And traversing rivers:
And other fun stuff–a.k.a. canyons:

The kids had a blast, of course. We love love love car camping, but we already have our rooms reserved for next year. Adam promised me after this trip that if a canyon is involved we won’t have to camp. Thanks, honey. Only true canyon wives understand the sentiment, and that’s okay with me. :) The guys only did one canyon this year so they could spend more time with the kids. Next year, the kids will also be canyon-ready. They still have to learn to swim, and have a little more experience on the ropes. See here for Jaime’s trip report. She snapped the most adorable pics of the kids trying to catch rain in their mouths. And she also explained this year’s canyoning fiasco (there’s always at least one *wink, nod*). And here are the rest of our pics. Until next year, Beautiful Zion.

Ice Cube

That’s what you feel like when you swim through the water in this canyon. Seldom traveled, this is one of my favorite places for a fun day in the park. Our intrepid group of five included me, Duane Woodmansee, and the three Leas — Rob, Eric, and Troy. Dave was kind enough to drive us up to the trailhead to save us the time of driving back at the end. Being Dave, he hiked the first part of the approach in his flip-flops!

We had a great time and our 3 noobs did a great job! All of the pics (as if these aren’t enough!) can be found in the photo album. Special thanks to Rach (because she is amazing!) for watching the kids for the day so that I could go on this — love you!


is it really over?


Yes, unfortunately, it really is over. At least for another year! Zionfest 2008 came and went in the blink of an eye. Those who took the time off work, gathered permits, made long drives, and left little ones behind were not disappointed. At least, I hope not. This year’s theme was “Call of the Canyon” (credits go to Robert Lea). Next year, however, the ladies have decided that the themed t-shirt will center around “Oh the Life of a Canyoneer’s Wife” Clever, eh? Maybe by then Valerie really will have purchased the straight-jacket for Carter…she keeps threatening.

Even though we spent almost a week at Zion Nat’l Park, it doesn’t seem like nearly enough time. I guess with everyone moving back to Las Vegas (how did that happen?) coordinating and planning will be easier. Regardless, I would fly home from China to honor this friendship tradition. Some people can’t believe that the 10 of us (which does vary each year depending on who’s in labor) actually take a holiday weekend and spend it together as friends. But our friends are family. There is no distinction to me. I wish everyone I know could have a life like mine. Our friends, at times, have been more supportive of our adoption than some family members. Our friends get us (in all our nerdiness–I know we’ll try to bring less electronic gear next year). Our friends visit us even when we’re seven hours away. I could go on and on, but as anyone who reads this blog knows, our friends are treasured by Adam and I.

Here’s a run-down of pictures…Click on the link to see more. (Jena, you can download and or all–just have to do it one at a time.)

Behunin Almost:


Emerald Pools:


Das Boot:


Random Fun Pics:

We had a fabulous time. Thanks Zioneers for being our friends. Our group vacations never ever disappoint. Oh yeah, I got 10 scrap pages done while I was there. That is the defining measure of how successful the trip was–in my book anyway!

is it really here?

To all my fellow Zioneers–Two More Days!!! I’m sure tonight will be filled with dreams of spa treatments, scrapbooking, hiking, and great conversations. Maybe I’ll actually sleep a little too. I need the energy to be able to pack tomorrow! C ya on the South Side.

Where the Crazies Roam—black hole canyon (keep dreamin’ mccracken)


Need I say more! This is one of the canyons that is done at “freeze fest” over New Years. Some of the boys have wanted to try it, but it gladly hasn’t worked out yet. Adam says the debris has since been washed through and canyoneers descend it every year. Mmm hmm, heard that one before!

Seriously though, the White Canyon system is A-Mazing, simply spectacular to view. All the boys would love driving through here and spending some time. I think I had to close Adam’s mouth a few times for fear he would drool all over the seat.

Click on the photo for a bigger view of what the sign says!!!

Here’s to the Anasazi–grand gulch primitive area


Ruins, ruins, ruins—this canyon is completely brilliant. It’s beautiful, fairly easy, and full of adventure. There is a plethora of cliff dwellings to explore. Adam has turned into a bona fide Indian ruin seeker! I would put this trip on the cool scale somewhere around the Mayan ruins of Tikal in Guatemala. However, this adventure is practically in our backyard—even better! We would love to do this trip again with friends and/or children in a few years. We actually would like to do the entire Gulch (Kane to Collins)—probably five nights or so…totally worth it, and not scary at all, girls.

We had the canyon completely to ourselved the first night. By the third day out, however, there seemed to be quite a few spring breakers heading down as we were heading out. Man, I sure love to hike. We just found out that Adam has another break coming up. This whole grad school things keeps getting better. The downside–I have to leave my sister when we adventure. We don’t have much time left here and I sure love hanging out with the Hirschis.

Here are some of our favorite pictures:


The rest of our pics are here!