Monday, November 18, 2019

Edmaiers Secret Photo Essay (Paria Canyon - Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness) - 11/13/19

View from Top of Hill Climb

Large Fin

Buckskin Gulch far Below - Overlook View

House Rock Valley Road
So, you haven't heard of Edmaiers Secret? Well, let me introduce you! (And, that's all that this will be ... an introduction.) This place is vast, very delicate and virtually unknown, unlike its not-too-distant neighbor "The Wave." The American Southwest wrote an article on the web about it. Below, find a part of the article in italics.

The middle Paria River valley, around the north edge of Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, is a particularly scenic and photogenic region, which includes several well-known sites in close proximity such as Buckskin Gulch, White Pocket, Coyote Buttes and the Wave, the Paria Rimrocks and the deep Paria Gorge.

Trail criss-crosses Buckskin Gulch

Passing Two Panels of Petroglyphs

Trail leaves Gulch at Old Fence

Teepee Rock
Most of the bedrock is Navajo sandstone, originally wind blown dunes, now containing, thin, differently colored, cross bedded strata, and eroded into many forms. Most of the exposed sandstone is found along the Paria and Buckskin corridors, extending a mile or so either side, and off-trail explorations can reveal many pretty formations.

Several smaller locations have been publicised in recent years including Nautilus Rock near the Paria River trailhead and Edmaiers Secret, on the east side of Buckskin Gulch about one mile upstream of the start of its long enclosed slot section.

Fat Fin Rock

Sandstone Cross-Bedding

Row of Large Fins

Many Animal Tracks dot the Sandy Terrain
The secret is a group of layered sandstone domes and cones, with a knobbly, brain-like texture, crossed by thin fins, often perpendicular to the underlying strata. These 'brain rocks' are one point of interest, but better, photogenically, are the erosive structures formed by the fins, which in some places combine to create larger protruding mounds containing very thin sandstone plates at various angles. The location is named after German landscape photographer Bernard Edmaier, who first identified the formations from the air. The place is also known as Brown Pocket, or West Clark Bench Water Pockets.

Group Shot on Cross-Bedding (Brain Rocks)

Sand Climbing above Lower Valley

Textures on Eastern Wall

Tiny Jawbone and Teeth
After proper introductions and a 5 hour perusal of the locale, I can say that it is truly a unique and delicate landscape. Nine hikers drove approximately 5 miles down the House Rock Valley Road (dirt) to the Buckskin Gulch Trailhead complete with restroom. After readying for the hike, my GPS still had not found me! (It would be a mile before it tackled my location.) We started out the trail through the golden grass and weeds crossing the dry gulch around seven times before we left it for good at the old fence. Somewhere in the middle of this first 1.5 miles, we passed two panels of petroglyphs that I have seen photos of in the past. Our trail moved along the fence then we veered left onto a trail fork that took us up to a sandy hill where the Fat Fin Rock resided.

View back through Valley

Don't break the delicate Fins!!!

Fins like Ruffles around Teepee Peak

Hiking Wash next to Teepees
Some of the names I am using in this entry are used by many hikers but not all and, perhaps, this rock is named something else in many circles. Nevertheless, here, we saw our first example of the millions of delicate fins of the area. Not too far past this, we saw a row of verticle fins sticking up out of the ground. These are quite popular with hiker/photogs. Continuing down into the wash, we hiked over the so-called Brain Rocks, or cross-bedding. To get up the other end of the "valley," we scampered up along the right side; staying out of the delicate fins for now. Finally, at the end of our valley, we passed the Dome and came to the pourover that lets water out into the Buckskin Gulch valley. Looking over the side of the cliff, we saw huge thin white fins jutting out from the side.

Passing the Dome to reach Saddle

Old Driftwood in Front of Dome

First View from Overlook

Hikers above Overlook Cliff
Our route curved around to the left where we had fantastic views of the strata on the hardened sandstone hills to the left. On the right, the vast view of the Buckskin Gulch valley was laid out before us. (See the 1st and 3rd photos of this entry.) On my maps, this is labeled as the Overlooks. As we took in the views on the right, we also noticed the tall wall to our left. We did look for evidence of the ancient Paiutes but found none. Hiking on this level of terrain, there was a hill (ramp) in front of us. Hmm. Yep, David directed us to the hill and said, "Climb!" This ramp was almost sloped at a 45 degree angle. I had to lean forward with two hands on the rock to get my center of gravity in the proper place for the scramble. Rita and I were the first up to the top with Randy close behind.

Passing Textures and Fins

Very Large Wall next to Overlooks

The Ramp Climb Experience

View of Wall from top of Ramp
 There was a significant step up about half way that was quite challenging. At the top, we found an old survey marker from 1917. The three of us sat for our break waiting for the remaining hikers to make it up the considerable slope. And, what a view we had! After all of us had climbed the ramp and taken our break, we headed on up to the nearby top of the West Clark Bench and turned to the right. Another amazing view of light colored calico rock went by us on our right. We found a cute free-standing arch (see 3rd photo from bottom) and passed by many dry tinajas. I would love to do this hike when there is water for reflections.

Terrain above Wall at Top of Ramp

Snack Spot Views

Reaching the Tinaja Plateau (West Clark Bench Water Pockets)

Bench toward Gulch Below
Alas, it was about then that I ran out of camera battery. ... I never run out of camera battery! So, I was able to squeeze out about five more photos through the end of the hike. We returned back along the bench and continued in the other direction from the ramp. The route traveled atop the cliff edge several feet away so the views were obstructed here. An area of deep sand welcomed us and we turned left for a soft descent. From here, the descent turned into a tour of the fins. So many fins. So little time. We all spent a lot of our concentration on not destroying any of them by stepping on them. They were overhanging every step in front of us at some points so we stepped big!

Bench toward Desert Above

Hikers cross the Bench

Textures on Bench

Never-Ending Rock Formations
At the bottom of this very long sloped descent on the rock, we completed our partial loop by stepping into the wash. We climbed back up to the Fat Fin Rock and followed our tracks back out across Buckskin Gulch about seven times. There you have it! The recipe for an amazing trip through Edmaiers Secret or Brown Pocket or another Big Finland. This is one I would definitely like to return to for a second exploration. It's too big to cover in just one day hike!

7.5 miles; 1200 feet elevation gain; 5.75 hours; average moving speed 1.3 mph

The Window View

Passing Fins on Way Down

Down, Down, Down - Dome in Background

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Yellow Rock - Photo Essay & Rimrock Hoodoos (Grand Staircase-Escalante NM) - 11/12/19

Yellow Rock (Part I of 11/12/19)

Yellow Rock

Yellow Rock

Paria Canyon from Yellow Rock

Yellow Rock from Paria Canyon Road & US Hwy 89
In the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, color, sandstone and rock formations collide! Yellow Rock is no exception. After meeting up with the rest of David's group in Kanab, nine hikers set out in three cars to drive to Cottonwood Canyon Road. It is found ~2 miles past the Paria Contact Station on the north side of the road. As a preview, David stopped us on US Hwy 89 near the Paria Canyon Road to see a distant view of Yellow Rock as seen in the photo to the left. (It is the round rock on the right.) So, we drove on up the pavement and turned left onto Cottonwood Canyon Road, a dirt road. There were several very large construction type trucks and machinery working and one ended up right in front of us on the dusty road. yea. We learned, eventually, that they were working on shoring up the river bank in one section. Utah must not have strong emissions laws. Finally, the truck pulled over to do its work and we passed it. Then about 14.5 miles from US Hwy 89, we turned to the right into a small parking lot.

Cottonwood Canyon Road

Wading through Brush on Use Trails

Crossing Hackberry Canyon Creek

Starting up Steep Trail
 From here, we looked across the dirt road and beyond. There is a small canyon south of Hackberry Canyon. This is the trail to Yellow Rock. Getting to the trail was more difficult. Overgrown invasive tamarisk lives between the road and the canyon. Therefore, there are a lot of use trails through the weeds. Finding a clear trail is a challenge! We found the normally flowing creek that comes out of Hackberry Canyon to be absolutely dry! Yea! We crossed the sand and found the trail between the narrow white sandstone walls. Quickly, we were climbing a very steep trail up the wall on the right. We took our time and were very careful with our footing. All of us knew what this trail would be like on the way back down!

Lettie on the Steep Cliimb

Yellow Rock & Old Tree

Overlook to South

Nearing Yellow Rock
Finally at the top of the steepest part, we stopped for an overlook that views down into the mouth of Hackberry Canyon and south through Cottonwood Canyon valley. From here, we continued up the trail on a wide knife edge of desert growth. We took a short breathing break then continued on over the rocky ridge, through a shallow ravine and over the next small ridge. This put us right onto the Yellow Rock that we had been eyeing since our overlook view. Comments were made that it appeared like a yellow Stone Mountain! Well, being from Georgia, that was a stretch of imagination! But, it was very large. We stepped out onto the rock and began hiking up on a diagonal toward the north end of the sandstone.

Trail to Yellow Rock

Lower Portion of Yellow Rock

Hiking across to North End of Yellow Rock

North End of Yellow Rock
Yellow Rock is covered with ridges and color veins. Since there were several amateur photogs in the group, we were all anxious to find interesting angles. The group hiked together but apart. We were all over the rock! The north end of Yellow Rock was full of ridges and veins with a few spots of bright color. It hung above Hackberry Canyon far below and there was more colorful sandstone on the other side of the canyon. Photo-ed out on the north end, we turned to start a large switchback to the center of the rock. We met many opportunities for photos and moved very slowly. Next, the group migrated up to the two peaks of the large sandstone rock.

North End of Yellow Rock

North End of Yellow Rock down to Hackberry Canyon

North End of Yellow Rock

David and His Camera
There was a slightly chilly breeze blowing across the peaks so we each found a wind block to sit in and take our snack break. From the peaks, we could see a rock outcropping that we called "Castle Rock" in the distance to the north and Paria Canyon to the south west. The sandstone of Escalante was laid out for miles to the northwest. When we finished our break, we started over to the colorful section below the south peak. I playfully followed a white stripe in the sandstone down to a miniature gully in the sandstone. We descended about half of the mountain then turned to our right and hiked over to the south end of the rock. It was the best view! So colorful!

Sandstone across Hackberry Canyon

Northwest End of Yellow Rock

Northwest End of Yellow Rock & Rita

Brenda - Happy as a Lark!
 This end of Yellow Rock was a steep face of patterns of red, yellow and white. (See the first photo of this entry.) We took our time here trying to do the rock justice in photos. I spied a large stack of red rock laying on the yellow sandstone down below the wall and we had fun taking our photos on the rocks with the colorful display over our left shoulder. Finally, it was time to start making our way down the rock and back to the trail junction. We didn't take the same trail that we came in on but there are many trails that all end up converging at one point in the sand. Soon, things started looking familiar and we knew we had been there before.

Panorama #1 from Center of Yellow Rock

Panorama #2 from Center of Yellow Rock

Climbing near Center of Yellow Rock

Some of Group heading to Peak

Enjoying a Break on Top
 I know. There are a lot of photos! Fun. Fun. Fun!

A Particularly Colorful Place

Where did that come from?

Descent from Southeast End of Yellow Rock

Yellow Rock

We found a Photo Rock!

Returning down the Trail
We followed the trail down to the steep trail section and held our breath! Slowly and carefully, we picked our way down the hill. Yes, there were three oopses! But, in the end, we survived the dive! At the bottom, we tried finding a better way through the tamarisk forest. There is a better way to go north of where we went in but it still isn't well worn. Nevertheless, we got back to the cars and will be eternally awed by Yellow Rock! On the way back to the paved road, two cars decided to call it a day. The third car continued their day at the Rimrock Hoodoos.

4 miles; 1000 feet elevation gain; 3.5 hours

Down the Steep Trail

Concentration, a Must!

Last Look back at Trailhead Canyon

Rimrock Hoodoos (Part II of 11/12/19)

Bottle Hoodoo and Fat Hoodoo

Lizard Hoodoo and Chess Piece Hoodoo

Trail at Base of White Hoodoo Wall

Trail Entrance Gate
 The Rimrock Hoodoo Trailhead parking lot is located directly across US Hwy 89 from the Paria Contact Station. We pulled in where David led us and got last minute instructions to the hoodoos.  The trail we chose took us out in a north direction and we wanted to cut across to go on the northern side of the striped butte that we saw from the trailhead. So, we bushwhacked a short distance and began following a use trail across the back of the striped butte. Already, we could see hoodoos on the top and walls of the white sandstone to the north. Soon, we connected with a trail that had come from the wash we were hiking next to.

Striped Butte in Foreground to Right - White Hoodoo Wall Behind

Hoodoos from Wash Trail

Climbing Knife Edge Trail

White Hoodoo Wall
The trail followed a knife edge ridge and we balanced on the hard dirt. From there, the trail traveled through sand and brush to get to the base of the white wall. We hiked to the end of the trail looking for a particular hoodoo that David had suggested to see. Although we never found it ... blind, I guess ... we had a lot of fun. When we turned around at the end of the trail, we took a side trip to the base of the Fat Hoodoo located below the Bottle Hoodoo. Our exploration didn't last long since it was nearing evening sun so, we started back along the same trail. Through the sand and grass and down the knife edge. Here, we decided to continue down the wash.

Red, White and Blue

End of Trail View Back

Bottle Hoodoo and Popeye Hoodoo

Crytobiotic Soil
 Yes, this was the correct trail and we followed it around the corner of the striped butte. Thinking we had it made, we began following a trail that climbed up through the grass. It must have been a cow trail (free range) because, soon, it petered out. Our trajectory led us to the trail we had used to start as we neared the obvious trailhead. Fun extra hike to end a fun and amazing day!

2.5 miles; 270 feet elevation gain; 2 hours; average moving speed 1.5 mph

View around Corner from End of Trail

Another View of Red, White and Blue

Beginning Hike back to Trailhead