Thursday, November 10, 2016

Escalante Loop- Burr Trail & Notom Road

The next morning we headed toward Capitol Reef National Park, by way of the Burr Trail.  This route was recommended by the ranger in Escalante for the scenic views.  The trail was developed by John Burr in the 1880s to move cattle back and forth between winter and summer ranges.  Currently the trail is a dirt road, beginning with a large sign warning travelers not to travel while wet or snowy as it can be nearly impassable. The road travels through rough terrain through the country around Waterpocket Fold, Burr Canyon and Muley Twist Canyon, with bonus views of the Henry Mountains.  Numerous hikes and side trips exist on this interesting back road, and we chose to hike Upper Muley Twist Canyon.  The road to the parking area is only about three miles long, but travels in a wash.  High clearance four wheeled drive is recommended, or one can park at the bottom and hike through the wash.   We passed backpackers who did just that, and a new Ford Explorer that had given up on the road and parked half way up in a safe spot.  You can see in the photo below the van driving in the wash with Peek-a-boo arch towering overhead.

Peek-a-boo Arch in Upper Muley Twist Canyon

 We arrived at the parking area with-out incident. We got out our topo map and found a route through the bottom of the canyon that promised a couple of arches.  We packed a lunch and left the pets in the car, as it appeared that some canyoneering may be necessary to navigate some of the large pools and slot canyon. Temperatures this time of year were in the low 60s so we felt comfortable that they would be fine in the van with the shades closed, and windows open.  The hike was pretty, but with very little shade, exposed.  There were times we had to figure how to get around large pools of water, with out getting our shoes wet.  We had our lunch at a spot across from Saddle Arch on some slickrock that had a good view of the arch. The trail continues up and along the rim, then circles around and back into the canyon to make a nice loop hike.

Saddle Arch

 After returning to the van we grabbed the dogs and did a quick side hike to the Strike Valley rim for views of Waterpocket Fold, where you can see a great rift of a fault line.  The view here is one of the most impressive of the views so far.

Waterpocket Fold
 Hopping back in the van we continued down the Burr Trail to a most dramatic set of switchbacks which takes you right through the fold and onto Notom Road.  Dusty and sandy the road travels through some beautiful country along the valley floor.   There is a campground about half way down this road, with only a handful of sites.  We opted to keep driving to find a boondocking site a short distance away.  We'll call this site Notom arch. As per usual we were surrounded by cows and cow patties, but there were also great views of the Henry Mountians.  I took advantage of the cool formations, and spent the evening making night images, light painting the formation and making startrail images.    For more information on the making of the night image below see my photography blog post here: Notom Window

Notom Window

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