Saturday, November 16, 2019

Wahweap Hoodoos & Toadstool Hoodoos (Grand Staircase-Escalante NM) - 11/11/19

Wahweap Hoodoos (Part I of 11/11/19)

White Hoodoo of the Towers of Silence Cove

Hoodoo Central

The Tower of Silence White Hoodoo

Driving to Big Water
 Lynn Sessions wrote an article in December 2015 for The American Southwest about the Wahweap Hoodoos that is worth repeating on this site.

The Hoodoos Of The Towers Of Silence – Mother Nature’s Wonder Work In Southwest, USA -

The hoodoos of the Towers of Silence are one of the most recognized geological formations of the American Southwest.

They can be found in lower reaches of Wahweap Creek of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah and northern Arizona, around the Lake Powell region.

Trail Sign at Parking Area
 Ghostly, eccentric white rock spires topped with reddish-brown capstones peer out across the broad, empty wash and were formed by differential weathering.

The Fence without a Hiker Gate
 The cap of the hoodoo is Dakota Sandstone and it is100 million years old, and the post of the hoodoos is Entrada Sandstone that is 160 million years old.

Sun Rising on the Wahweap Creek Wash

It has been dry here!
The Paiutes believed that hoodoos are the remnants of people who were turned to stone.

The word Wahweap means “bitter water” in Paiute, referring to alkaline seeps that can be found along the canyon. Early settlers used the name Sentinel Rock Creek, likely in reference to the hoodoos. 

The Wahweap Hoodoos – usually described as three separate groupings (or ‘coves’) – the White Hoodoo, Hoodoo Central, and the Towers of Silence – are separated by just a few miles. (sic)

The first cove, also known as “Riverside Cove,” looms immediately above the floor of the wash. It contains some of the largest and most robust hoodoos.

Riverside Cove of White Hoodoos
 The second cove, called “Hoodoo Central,” is located in a recess on the canyon wall, contains a variety of hoodoos ranging from short and stubby to tall and spindly.

Riverside Cove
 The third cove, also known as “towers of silence,” is a third of a mile to the north, hiding behind a jutting prominence. This cove contains the most delicate and fragile, otherworldly hoodoos along with rippled sheets and mounds of white sandstone.

Skinny Hoodoo in Riverside Cove

Rita on Riverside Cove Trail
Indeed, Mother Nature creates unbelievable, amazing and often weird structures.
~Lynn Sessions

So, Rita and I left Kanab very early in the morning ... 6am ... and drove east on US Hwy 89 to Big Water. Left into Big Water. Right on the Glen Canyon NRA Road. And, left onto the worn dirt road to the Fish Hatchery. This road leads down the hill along the wide Wahweap Creek wash. There is a small trailhead parking lot for cars that don't want to cross the wash just before the crossing. Then, we crossed the wash (with only inches of water running through) and parked at the last trailhead parking lot half a mile further marked with the Trailhead sign.

Kay on Riverside Cove Trail
 It has been a very dry summer and fall so the conditions for crossing this wash in a Subaru were excellent. In fact, the entire hike was done in perfect weather.

Leaving Riverside Cove
 We hiked up the dirt road just a little further and found a trail sign pointing toward the wash. The only obstacle of the hike was the barbed wire fence that appeared fairly new. The fence is there to keep cars out but there was no hiker gate. We shed our packs and squeezed through the barbs.

Welcoming Hoodoo in Hoodoo Central

Hoodoo Central
In the interest of making the 9 mile hike as short as possible, we headed straight up the wash. This meant that we had to wade through a brushy island. There were use trails that were always available whenever we got out of the rocky/sandy waterway. There were also sticky weeds that got into our legs and socks. We marched on at a decent pace. The miles went by fast enough. The views on this hike don't change. Either you are watching the distant wash to the north on the way up or you are watching the distant wash to the south on the way down. However, the thing that occupies your mind is dodging the rocks and sand and sticky bushes. ... And, this is constant.

Sentinels at Hoodoo Central
 We hiked in the wash part of the time and in the brushy islets part of the time. As we neared our destination, we saw a wall on the left side of the wash that looked like there were two hoodoos in the making on its face. (See photo #9)

Gathering at Hoodoo Central
 Closer and closer, we finally saw that we were right to assume that this was the first section of hoodoos, the Riverside Cove. A trail through the brush led us right up to the base of these magnificent natural structures.

Towers of Silence Cove

Towers of Silence Hoodoos
 We followed the trail that winded around the hoodoos on the white entrada sandstone. At one point, the trail took us on a short scramble down. We were very careful not to damage any of the delicate rock. We took a lot of photos and the trail led us on around to the next cove, Hoodoo Central. Here, there were at least three very impressive hoodoos with many other smaller ones. It kind of looked like a little village of hoodoos! I don't know if it was the time of year or the time of day but these (as well as the Towers of Silence that was around the next corner) were in the shade. Whatever time of year that you decide to visit, your best bet on light for photos is sunrise. Our watches said about 10 o'clock.

 After we finished at Hoodoo Central, we hiked on around the last corner. Et voila! There she stood. The White Hoodoo of famous photos worldwide.

Talking Hoodoo in Towers of Silence - Shhh!
 She was magnificent! Cloaked in pure white sandstone. We sat at her heels and had a snack break. Absolutely breathtaking! ... even in the shadows.

Towers of Silence Cove

Wahweap Creek
 Alas, it was time to return to the cars. Our route back was slightly different since we stayed in the wash most of the time. TBH, I don't think either way was shorter. On the way back, we passed three hikers going up. They were about 100 yards separated from us in the wash. Finally back at the fence, we still did not find a hiker gate. Squeeze! We got back in the car and drove back toward Kanab. Our second hike would be a short one. But, the Wahweap Hoodoos can now be checked off of my bucket list!

9.2 miles; 450 feet elevation gain; 5 hours; average moving speed 1.7 mph

Returning to the Fence without a Hiker Gate

Trail Signs lead down to the Wash

The Road Wash Crossing

Toadstool Hoodoos (Part II of 11/11/19)

The First and Largest of the Toadstool Hoodoos

A Few nearby Toadstools

Trailhead Sign

The Wash Trail
 The Toadstool Hoodoos parking lot is on the north side of US Hwy 89 between the turnoff for Cottonwood Canyon Road and the Paria Contact Station. It is a popular hike for travelers since parking is right next to the road. We stopped here and started hiking out the trail that is ~ .75 miles one way. It was a nice day so the Toadstools stood out in front of the blue sky. These hoodoos are made of red sandstone with heavy capstones. Not as delicate as the Wahweap Hoodoos but interesting nonetheless. Soon, we were headed back to Kanab.

1.5 miles; 140 feet elevation gain; 45 minutes; average moving speed 1.7 mph

A Choice of either the Wash or the Raised Trail

A Fat Toadstool

The Largest Toadstool Hoodoo

Friday, November 15, 2019

Upper Paria Canyon & The Nautilus Rock (Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness) - 11/10/19

Upper Paria Canyon  (Part I of 11/10/19)

Paria Canyon near Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness Boundary

Paria Canyon

Trailhead Sign

Campground Sign at Trailhead
 Excited about the week ahead, Rita and I drove up to Kanab a day early. We were anxious to do a few hikes that were not on the schedule. We left early from Las Vegas and arrived in Kanab about 3 hours later. Forty more miles east on SR 89, we turned right at the Paria Contact Station and veered left onto the Whitehouse Trailhead Road. This is a well maintained dirt road that leads to the Whitehouse Campground and Trailhead, complete with restrooms. The road has two "tiled" wash crossings before you reach the end. We paid our parking permit fee at the station and said hello to a small group of guys who had just finished their 20 mile hike from Wire Pass. Then we set out for our little out and back hike along the rim of Upper Paria Canyon.

Trail down by River
 To start the hike, we followed the trail that drops toward the Paria River from the restrooms. It turns left and starts along the river shoreline. Soon, the trail climbs up onto the bench above the river's east side.

Paria River Upstream
 The trail climbs higher and higher above the canyon floor. It follows the shape of the curvy rim in and out of the alcoves and washes. Most of the time, the trail is a safe distance from the edge of the increasing height of the cliffs.

White Rock Outcrop

Old Fencing
Safe until ... around 2 miles down ... the trail gets very close the the rim of very high cliffs. We slowed our pace and made sure of our steps. A fall would be fatal. Then the trail takes a climb up through a short small wash and up to an overlook. Past that, the trail circled around to an awaiting cairn. We wondered if this must be the wilderness boundary marker. At any rate, we were ready to turn around. The views of the canyon below had been spectacular from the beginning and we had other fish to fry that day. So, we started back and about a mile later, we passed the first 2 hikers we had seen on the trail. We spoke and moved on.

Trail gets Higher
There was a lot of evidence of horseback riders on the trail, too. We think that the horses were led around the cliff edge trail section.

Kay at Wilderness Boundary Cairn
 Our route back looped as we neared the campground. We followed a trail that led higher up the hill and dropped down through some campsites that were located at the base of large white sandstone hills.

Cliff Edge Trail

Desert & Cliffs
These hills must be the "Whitehouse." It looked like a really nice place to camp. The trailhead signs said that it costs $5 per night. Parking fees for us were $6 each! Hmm. Anyway, it is a nice place and an interesting trail along the beautiful Paria Canyon. We jumped back in the car and drove back up the road to the first wash we came to ... or the second wash from SR 89.

Upper Paria Canyon Trail: ~4 miles; 400 feet elevation gain; 2 hours; average moving speed 2 mph

See Part II below.

Hiking back up Canyon Rim

Sand Hiking

Campground at Whitehouse

The Nautilus Rock (Part II of 11/10/19)

The Gray Giant ... Rock ... at Beginning of Wash

Rita inside the Nautilus Rock

Very Old Corral next to Road

Gray Giant to left of Wash
 We parked at this wash on the south side and jumped out into the sand. (Sand would be the common denominator this week.) Not too far up the wash, we turned left and climbed the bank up to the base of The Gray Giant. Even though the color gray is a bit unusual, the rock is still sandstone. tells us that "Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any color, but the most common colors are tan, brown, yellow, red, gray and white." We each climbed up on the gray rock and got photos with the red squiggly peak of a sandstone bench poking up behind us.

Nautilus Rock on Right
 We dropped down into the wash again. We were past the fencing across the wash. Then we began hiking a short distance up the medium sized wash ... in the sand.

Hiking inside Nautilus Rock
 We noted a skinny spire sticking up from the ridge on the right. Then soon, we were passing another gray sandstone outcropping.

Above Nautilus

Second View above Nautilus
This is the Nautilus rock on the right of the wash. We spent a few minutes exploring the rock. We could hike up through the middle of it and climb on the rocks on either side of the crack. It was difficult to get a great photo of the shell-like crack but the experience was a lot of fun. Photo-ed out, we started back down the wash, got in the car and drove back to Kanab. I would like to give a shout out to the Holiday Inn Express hotel in Kanab! Fantastic people there and the beds were soooo comfortable! ... Good breakfasts, too!

Nautilus: 1 mile; 125 feet elevation gain; 45 minutes; average moving speed 1.7 mph

Returning back through Fencing

2nd Road Wash (View S to N) on Whitehouse Trailhead Road

Hoodoos next to Road