Capitol Reef March 2012

Discussion in 'Hiking & Camping' started by NateGeesaman, Apr 12, 2012.

  1. NateGeesaman

    NateGeesaman Donkey

    Messages:
    224
    I have been to Capitol Reef many more times than any other camping destination, but when that perfect spring weather hits the desert I was only thinking of Capitol Reef and hiking Upper Muley's Twist Canyon. I left Salt Lake around 6:00 AM so as to have a full day in the park before setting up camp. I arrived in record time to a beautiful partly cloudy spring day.

    My first destination was the waterfall in the Northern end of the park where I learned that I bought the wrong neutral density filter (not dark enough for bright sun). [​IMG]
    IMG_0711 by NateGeesaman, on Flickr

    Then it was off to Surprise Canyon. [​IMG]
    I'm going in there by NateGeesaman, on Flickr


    I spent a good amount of time slowly climbing up trying to make a loop out of this hike. I entered the opening on the left of the above photo and tried to find a way to come out that beautiful colorful opening on the right. I cliffed out, just barely, towards the top where I imagined a connection and since I was by myself decided not to try anything too stupid and turned back. I imagine there is a connection lower down from where I went though. Anyway, it was good fun exploring back in here.

    [​IMG]
    Surprise Canyon's True Colors by NateGeesaman, on Flickr
    [​IMG]
    Surprise Canyon Halo by NateGeesaman, on Flickr
    [​IMG]
    Surprise Canyon Amphitheater by NateGeesaman, on Flickr
    [​IMG]
    Surprise by NateGeesaman, on Flickr

    On the way back to the car I was seeing some great clouds and that helped me pick my next destination.
    [​IMG]
    Surprise by NateGeesaman, on Flickr

    I was debating doing Headquarters Canyon after this, but the clouds were drawing me towards the Strike Valley Overlook hike. The forecast for the next day was sunny and I wanted some panos with good clouds. Plus, I wanted to check out the 4wd high clearance only road and see if my Subie could handle it because I intended to go that route for the Upper Muley's Twist hike the next day. So up the Burr Trail Switchbacks I went.
    [​IMG]
    Switchback pano by NateGeesaman, on Flickr

    The road to the Strike Valley Overlook and Upper Muley's Twist trail heads was not as bad as I thought it might be. It was actually really fun to drive around up there and extremely beautiful the entire way. The Strike Valley Overlook hike was only 2 miles round trip, but I spent a good 3 hours hanging out, taking photos, and wandering around along the ridge. I went a bit pano crazy up here.

    [​IMG]
    Strike Valley 3 by NateGeesaman, on Flickr
    [​IMG]
    strike valley pano2 by NateGeesaman, on Flickr
    [​IMG]
    Strike Valley Overlook by NateGeesaman, on Flickr

    Then I headed back down the switchbacks and off to my hopefully vacant favorite camp site.
    I had to stop and try again to get some shots of the beautiful and powerful Bentonite hills along the Burr Trail.
    [​IMG]
    Bentonite Hills by NateGeesaman, on Flickr

    I pulled up to the camp spot thinking for sure someone would be there, but once again no one was and I got my preferred fire pit. I set up a time lapse of the Henry Mountains tossing around beautiful clouds and got to making a fire and dinner. Here is a frame from the time lapse, but I am not quite done with the video: [​IMG]
    IMG_1776 by NateGeesaman, on Flickr

    I really love this spot:
    [​IMG]
    Secret Spot by NateGeesaman, on Flickr

    I took some decent star shots that night because the beautiful clouds I had all day cleared just before the sun set :twothumbs: .
    [​IMG]
    Venus and Jupiter Stack by NateGeesaman, on Flickr
    [​IMG]
    Favorite Spot Trails by NateGeesaman, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Camp Trails by NateGeesaman, on Flickr
    [​IMG]
    IMG_2416 by NateGeesaman, on Flickr

    After a long day of hiking and driving, I was beat and slept like a log.

    I awoke shortly after sunrise and left camp for Upper Muley's Twist. I can't get enough of that drive along the Waterpocket Fold and thoroughly enjoyed it once again. I got to the trail head in about 30 minutes where I ate some breakfast and charged up for the strenuous hike ahead of me. The trail was beautiful from start to finish.
    [​IMG]
    Muley's Trail by NateGeesaman, on Flickr
    [​IMG]
    Muley's cliffs by NateGeesaman, on Flickr
    After 1.7 miles, I arrived at Saddle Arch and started the ascent up to the rim route portion of the loop. Here is a shot looking back at Saddle Arch from near the top of the climb to the canyon rim: [​IMG]
    Saddle Arch and Neighbors by NateGeesaman, on Flickr
    This is another beautiful formation that I saw while climbing up to the rim portion. There is a big arch in the shadow in the center of this that was quite impressive. [​IMG]
    Muley's Cliff arch by NateGeesaman, on Flickr

    Once I was up on the rim I got that same beautiful view that I had the day before from the Strike Valley overlook to my right (east) [​IMG]
    Rim Route Pano Low by NateGeesaman, on Flickr

    and to my left (west) a view of the beautiful and unique red sand stone that formed the narrows portion of the hike.
    [​IMG]
    Melting Sand Stone Panorama by NateGeesaman, on Flickr
    It is hard to see in this photo, but there were a couple arches mixed into those wrinkly cliffs.

    Here is a view of one of the slot canyons:
    [​IMG]
    Muley's Narrows by NateGeesaman, on Flickr

    After a few miles of overwhelmingly beautiful views along the rim portion, it was time to head down into the wash and hike back along the narrows. [​IMG]
    YES by NateGeesaman, on Flickr

    I intentionally did the loop counter clockwise so as to get the most difficult and steep portion done with first; then when I was down in the narrows I could be sure I had enough energy and time to explore the slots back there. I found a mouth to a slot that looked worth exploring and this was the view inside: [​IMG]
    Muley's Slot by NateGeesaman, on Flickr
    [​IMG]
    Muley's Slot Verto by NateGeesaman, on Flickr

    Beyond the point where I took those photos the slot opened up to a big beautiful amphitheater with walls going up hundreds of feet, but the light was not ideal for shooting.

    I stopped by Saddle Arch and took a few more shots in the afternoon light as I finished the loop.[​IMG]
    Saddle Arch by NateGeesaman, on Flickr
    [​IMG]
    Saddle Arch Base by NateGeesaman, on Flickr

    At the trail head there was a nice retired couple from Texas who were in the parking lot next to my car. I talked with them for a bit about their 6 week journey through the Colorado Plateau, photography, why I love Capitol Reef, and good camping spots. I tried to talk them into spending more time in Capitol Reef, but they had their trip pretty planned out.

    Then I was off to look for a good camping spot. I came across just that pretty close to where I had camped the previous night, but with a different view. A room with a view please. To the West :twothumbs:
    [​IMG]
    Camp 2 view by NateGeesaman, on Flickr
    To the East :twothumbs:[​IMG]
    Henry Mountains Cloudscape by NateGeesaman, on Flickr
    and a sunset please :twothumbs:[​IMG]
    sunset from camp by NateGeesaman, on Flickr
    and a nice fire :twothumbs:[​IMG]
    Camp by NateGeesaman, on Flickr
    and now that the sunset is over, clouds be gone for some stars :twothumbs:[​IMG]
    Venus and Jupiter Stack by NateGeesaman, on Flickr

    I shot this out the sunroof while drifting off in the back of the Subie. I shook the car a tiny bit unfortunately.
    [​IMG]
    Rooftop Trails by NateGeesaman, on Flickr

    :sleep::sleep::sleep:

    The next day provided an awesome drive home in the morning and then it was back to work at night.

    [​IMG]
    Drive home pano by NateGeesaman, on Flickr

    Featured image for slideshow:
    slide.jpg
    langutah, barl0w, pixie1339 and 6 others like this.
  2. Deadeye008

    Deadeye008 Hambone

    Messages:
    748
    Location:
    Northern Utah
    Some awesome pictures in there. I love Capitol Reef.
  3. IntrepidXJ

    IntrepidXJ ADVENTR

    Messages:
    1,315
    Location:
    Grand Junction, CO
    Looks like fun :)
  4. Miss Buffalo

    Miss Buffalo Never give up!!

    Messages:
    1,837
    Location:
    St. George, UT
    I love Capitol Reef and your pictures are simply awesome.
    And because of your great shots I will visit Surprise Canyon in June :)
    Too bad it was way to stormy during my visit so I couldn't do some night shots.
  5. NateGeesaman

    NateGeesaman Donkey

    Messages:
    224
    Thanks! Surprise is a good idea! There is also Headquarters Canyon which is a tiny bit further South, but quite beautiful as well.
    Miss Buffalo likes this.
  6. NateGeesaman

    NateGeesaman Donkey

    Messages:
    224
    Thanks. It is good to payback a little of the :) all of your amazing TR's have given me.
  7. NateGeesaman

    NateGeesaman Donkey

    Messages:
    224
    Thanks! Capitol Reef is a beauty of a place to be for sure.
  8. Nick

    Nick >_

    Messages:
    6,783
    Location:
    Salt Lake City
    Shooting trails out the sunroof. Classic! Fantastic trip report and photos. I particularly love the trails with the arch.
    NateGeesaman likes this.
  9. pixie1339

    pixie1339 Desperately Seeking Sandstone

    Messages:
    1,379
    Location:
    Draper, UT
    Beautiful shots Nate! Capitol Reef is so awesome. As hard as it is to pick a favorite national park in Utah, that's mine.

    Yvonne, you should definitely go to Surprise and Headquarters if the weather cooperates. They're both beautiful and since they aren't very long you can do both in a half a day.
  10. Miss Buffalo

    Miss Buffalo Never give up!!

    Messages:
    1,837
    Location:
    St. George, UT
    Lisa, that's what I've planned, depends on the weather. And in my case I can never say for sure if it cooperates. :rolleyes:
    But the east side of Capitol Reef is still a big white unknown to me and I want to explore the area a little bit this summer.
    pixie1339 likes this.
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