Winter Desert Weekend: Part 3: Honaker Trail

We woke up in our gorgeous campsite, made some coffee and breakfast in the morning chill while enjoying the view. The pups happily jumped in the car and we headed off to find the Honaker Trailhead. I’d hastily discovered the existence of this trail while en route from Paige so I hadn’t had too much time to thoroughly research it but hearing that we could hike from the canyon rim near Goosenecks State Park down to the San Juan River itself was enough for me.

Our directions to the trailhead were pretty vague and we drove past it the first time but eventually we found the 2WD parking area and walked down to the large pile of rocks marking where to descend into the canyon.

Honaker Trail

The Honaker Trail was originally built in 1893 as a supply route for gold miners exploring in the area. Along the way, numbers can be seen painted on the rock walls. These were added in the early 1950s for a geology symposium.

Honaker Trail markings

The trail is remarkably easy to hike. Although it descends about 1,200′, it takes about 2 ½ miles to reach the shores of the San Juan which makes for a pretty mellow (if exposed) hike. The whole way down I couldn’t quite believe that we were going to be able to make it all the way down to the river!

Honaker Trail

Honaker Trail

Yes, that is the trail switchbacking below my vantage point:

Honaker Trail

Honaker Trail

Finally, we found ourselves at the river. The pups immediately indulged their retriever tendencies and went for a swim in the silt-laden water.

San Juan River at the bottom of the Honaker Trail

Sprocket swimming in the San Juan River

Sprocket's sandy face

Thanks to the long rest grades, we made great time on the way out of the canyon enjoying the views the whole way.

San Juan River, Honaker Trail

IMG_0007

Honaker Trail Panorama

Honaker Trail

Geology nerd that I am, I wish I would have had this illustration of the stratigraphy of the canyon on the hike!

Photo: Daily Kos
Photo: Daily Kos

After our hike, we quickly packed up camp and hit the road. While distracted from my navigational duties by my DJ duties, I accidentally instructed Kelly to turn left onto Highway 261 (I was thinking we were at the UT 261 and US 191 junction!). I was alerted to my mistake when I heard “We’re driving up that?

Turns out that I’d directed us at the Moki Dugway instead of on our intended route. We just rolled with it and enjoyed our tour of Cedar Mesa on our way to Blanding and then home.

I had such a great weekend in the desert. Thanks to all my friends who helped make it awesome.

Winter Desert Weekend, Part 1

Right after Christmas, Josh contacted me to see if I would be interested in joining Ofa, Prajit, and himself in for some slot canyon adventuring. I decided since it was such a long drive that it might be fun to invite a friend along for the ride especially since I had a long weekend and Josh and his crew had to get back to SLC on Sunday. Fortunately, Kelly decided that she and her pup Petey would join Sprocket and I on our adventure.

We pulled out of Ridgway right after school on Friday and headed out over Lizard Head Pass. Sprocket insisted we stop at the top of the pass for a quick stretch break and photo opportunity. (He actually whined all the way from the Telluride round-about to Lizard Head and just wanted to frolic in the snow.) We pushed through a long dark drive across the Navajo Reservation, experienced some desert fog, and talked about skinwalkers and eventually made camp at Whitehouse Campground between Page, Arizona and Kanab, Utah. We were both exhaused and I hardly registered it when Josh, Prajit and Ofa drove in and were setting up their tents.

Lizard Head Pass

The next morning, we made a quick run to Kanab to try for obtain day-of permits for The Wave, however, during the winter all the permits for the weekend are given away on Friday so we settled for breakfast in town before heading out to hike Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch.

Happy Dogs

It was a gorgeous winter day for hiking:

Wire Pass trailhead

After a short ramble through the wash, we dropped into Wire Pass.

Sprocket in Wire Pass

Beth and Sprocket, Wire Pass

Wire Pass

I tried to help Sprocket over the following chockstone and he basically decided to jump over my shoulder. This is my Class 3+ doggy:

Sprocket doesn't mind chockstones

Sprocket on Wire Pass Trail

Beth, Wire Pass, Utah

Wire Pass, Utah

Wire Pass

Eventually we emerged at the junction of Buckskin Gulch and Wire Pass:

Buckskin Gulch

Unfortunately, there was a lot of water going both directions. Sprocket was the only one who thought continuing was a good idea. Instead, we enjoyed the views and enjoyed the majestic canyon junction before heading back out of the canyon.

Petroglyphs, Buckskin Gulch

Sandstone Art

The Wave trail, Utah

Some of Ofa and Prajit’s friends were headed to the Horseshoe of the Colorado River just south of Paige to watch sunset so Kelly and I hopped in Prajit’s car and joined them. The Horseshoe is majestic but it was so crowded (although it did inspire our trip to the Goosenecks of the San Juan on the way home).

Horseshoe Bend, Colorado River

The sunset colors were pretty sweet though:

Horseshoe Bend Sunset

Back at camp, we had a beer and then headed for our warm sleeping bags. (Well, Prajit and Josh decided to make some awesome art first.) Sprocket had spent a good chunk of Friday night shivering so I decided to cozy him up in my Turbodown. At first, he wasn’t really sure how he felt about it:

Unsure about this. Sprocket

I pulled the hood up and he suddenly understood and immediately fell asleep in his cozy coat.

Warm puppy

TurboDown Pup. #omnidog

#TryingStuffInJordan, Part 2

In case you missed it, the first part of my #TryingStuffInJordan recap is available here. In Part 2, I pick up the story as I woke up at the Feynan Ecolodge:

Day 4

We started our day with a delicious breakfast at the Ecolodge before starting out on a hike through Wadi Ghwayr in the Dana Biosphere Reserve. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from our canyon hike other than that we were warned we’d be getting wet…

Wadi Ghwayr

Beth in Wadi Ghwayr
Photo Courtesy @Lukasavige

Wadi Ghwayr

The hike was so much fun. The wadi, Arabic for valley, was absolutely gorgeous: the water was crystal clear, the sandstone had beautiful swirl patterns, there were palm trees overhanging the canyon, and there was plenty of fun scrambling and waterfall scaling. I’ve been on lots of wonderful hikes but I really do count this as one of the top 10 most beautiful ones in my life. Bedouin tea breaks and a sand bread snack (literally bread baked in the sand) were only icing on the cake.

Wadi Ghwayr Sandstone

At the end of the hike, we climbed into vans and were off the next destination: Dana’s Rummana Campsite. When we arrived, it was chilly so we immediately layered up and headed for dinner. After the long hike, I was pretty tired so called it an early night—after a couple post-dinner cups of Bedouin tea of course.

Day 5

The morning was brilliant and sunny giving us some beautiful views of our campsite. After breakfast we did a little bit of hiking and scrambling around: my favorite way to explore!

Dana Biosphere Reserve

Dana Biosphere Reserve

Leaving the nature preserve, we drove to the town of Petra. After a nice relaxing afternoon at the hotel, we headed out for dinner. We all had an idea of what might be in store for us that night and were all delighted to hear that our guess was correct: we were going to see Petra at night.

Wandering down the candle lit path through the Siq was a really neat experience. The tall canyon walls were just barely illuminated by the moon giving only hints of the grandeur surrounding us. Suddenly, the Treasury appeared illuminated by the light of hundreds of candles. My photo definitely doesn’t do the beauty of the scene justice.

Petra at night

Day 6

After being given a glimpse of Petra at the Treasury, we were all excited to go see more. Our guide Mohammed took us all over the ancient city telling us the history beginning with the Nabataeans and then the Romans and the Byzantines. The large tombs carved out of the solid sandstone cliffs were absolutely huge (plus there was lots more of the gorgeous swirled sandstone).

Treasury

Petra

Petra

After lunch, we continued on to the Monastery and then to a view point beyond. At the viewpoint, we were told that we’d be meeting at 7:45 back at the hotel but we were on our own before that. Earlier in the day, Mohammed had mentioned hiking behind the Kings Tomb to a high viewpoint to the Treasury. Justin and I soon decided that we would use our free time to head that way, Seth soon caught up to us and away we went. Our added route took us by some additional tombs, up a huge flight of stairs to a really amazing overlook of the Treasury. It was definitely time well spent. As a bonus, we even got a nice quiet walk out the Siq with just enough time to shower before dinner.

Beth and Jordanian girls

Petra

Justin, Beth, and Seth

Comb Wash

Packing up our spot near Devil’s Canyon, we headed south into Blanding. I went for a run through town then we headed out to see Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum. Usually the museum costs $5 each but we were able to check it out free since we were attending a lecture about Chaco culture in the southwest. After the lecture, we headed down to Bluff and visited Ft. Bluff museum. We made a quick stop at Sand Island Recreation site for Sprocket to get in a bit more swimming and then made our way down to Comb Wash.

Southern Utah vistas

Backside of Comb Ridge

Desending into Comb Wash

Less than a mile down Comb Wash road we found a perfect camping site. F prepared to go for a motorcycle ride the next day and I plotted a hike. (Sprocket was suffering from a toe injury and was given trailer sleeping duty.) The next day dawned sunny and beautiful, if a little but blustery. I decided to pack my new tripod along with me and discovered that the two ice axe straps on my Teton Sports pack held the tripod quite nicely. (I’ve added a carabiner on the bottom so we’ll see if that improves vertical stability on my next adventure.)

Teton Sports

I chose to hike up a large wash less than a mile north of our campsite. It was fun to hike through and marvel at how this is just one of many, many such canyons around the southwest.

Reflection

Exploring a wash

Exploring a wash

Exploring a wash

Lizard

After a bit, I spotted this blobby pinnacle hanging out in the desert so I headed over to see if I could climb it. I definitely made the climb as difficult as possible by traversing around it on a small ledge before finding my way up onto its summit. The view from the top was pretty incredible though!

Pinnacle

Self portrait, Beth

Comb Wash Pano

I started working my way back to camp via a different wash to my south. Unexpectedly, I chose the one that lead right to the trailer!

Hiking near Comb Wash

Exploring near Comb Wash

Waterfall in wash

It was a fun hike. I was sad that Sprocket couldn’t come with me. This was just his length with lots of places to sniff and lots of sand to roll in!