The Maze

Aldaron

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Jun 16, 2012
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I've been so busy lately that I haven't posted a trip report in forever. I'm still busy, so I'm going to try to keep this one short, but I thought I would get a trip report posted.

The last week in March 2014, two friends from Tennessee flew out and we spent a week in the desert. We spent a few days in Grand Gulch (that part of the trip will be a future TR) and a few days in The Maze. After leaving Grand Gulch, we had planned to head straight out to The Maze, but the weather report was calling for 50 MPH winds the next night, so we elected to start a day later. I'm very glad we waited...we tried to camp out near Ticaboo that night, but the crazy wind sent us scrambling for the hotel in Ticaboo.

We started at Golden Stairs because I didn't want to drive either of the roads that head closer to the Maze. The drive out to Golden Stairs is fine...there was a little bit of 4x4 just before the trailhead, but it wasn't anything bad. The hike down Golden Stairs was nice. China Neck was pretty cool.

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It had great views of Ernie's Country and the Orange Cliffs.

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From the top, it's hard to believe the trail will find a way to the bottom...far, far below. But it does. The trail makes a steep descent above the Mother and Child rocks, and then runs back along the cliff for nearly a mile before it makes another steep descent down to the valley. It was a little frustrating to walk half a mile towards the Maze and then walk 3/4 of a mile back away from it...but that was the only way for the trail to find breaks in the cliff bands.

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This trail is pretty exposed, but there wasn't anything dangerous as long as you watch your footing.

After the second descent, you reach the bottom that you thought you would never reach, and then the trail follows a wash before reaching the road. Eventually, the road leads you back to the bottom of the Mother and Child that you feel like you were directly above two hours earlier.

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The road walk was actually pleasant. We only saw one vehicle, and I always find it relaxing to amble along a deserted double-track. There were nice, inviting views of Ernie's Country.

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And eventually you round a corner and see the Maze.

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Water wasn't a problem because it had rained the day before so there were plenty of potholes with water, and the first night was really nice.

I awoke early in the morning and hiked back up to Standing Rock and got a great sunrise over the La Sals and Land of Standing Rocks.

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We then spent the day exploring some of the canyons.

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We spent the rest of the day exploring around and spent another night out. The next day two of us made the hike back out of the Golden Stairs. My other friend walked the Dollhouse Road back towards Teapot Rock because he wasn't comfortable making the steep climb back up Golden Stairs. We made it back to the truck and then drove a couple of miles down Dollhouse Road and picked him up.

I had hoped that I wouldn't really like the Maze and this trip would suffice as my only backpack into the area. That didn't work out. I loved it out there. I don't know what was really different, but it was a very unique area. I couldn't think of any other area in southern Utah that was similar to the Maze. Unfortunately, that means I'll probably have to go back and spend more time. I want to spend more time down in the canyons, and I want to explore Ernie's Country. To do it right, I'm afraid that I'll have to drive in from the Dollhouse Road. And I don't like the idea of doing that. I guess I'll just have to get over it, though.

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DAA

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I'm not criticizing, to each his own and that's as it should be. But I really enjoy driving in to The Maze. The bumpy section around Teapot is kind of a drag, but that doesn't last very long and the rest of it is a pretty nice drive.

- DAA
 

Aldaron

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I'm not criticizing, to each his own and that's as it should be. But I really enjoy driving in to The Maze. The bumpy section around Teapot is kind of a drag, but that doesn't last very long and the rest of it is a pretty nice drive.

- DAA
I'm sure I'd do just fine in it. And I like driving challenging roads, I just sometimes get stressed that I'm going to tear up my truck and be left stranded. It's probably just an experience thing that I need to get over! I think I need to do roads like that with other people following me so that I can develop faith in my vehicle.
 

Aldaron

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The Maze really is special. Have you thought about the jet boat option? I liked that a lot better than driving in.
We thought about the boat option this time. And that's a good idea. I think with a truck you can just stay out longer because you can take lots of water and not have to worry about finding some.
 

steve

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I've done a lot of rockcrawling, and it wasn't my favorite drive. I typically love backcountry 4x4 travel, but my maze trip really became fun once we started hiking. If I hadn't hiked down into the maze below the chocoloate drops, I would have been left with a nice feeling, but no burning desire to go back. Now I want to go back and go backpacking in there again. When I do, I'll be taking the jet boat.
 

Aldaron

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Let's do it! :D

- DAA
I'm totally game! I don't guess I've posted this on here, yet, though: in less than a month I'm moving back to the south-east :(

I'm looking forward to moving to be close to home, but I've started realizing how much I'm going to miss everything out here.

But the three weeks of vacation that I currently spend going back home to Tennessee every year will now be spent coming back here to do the long trips that I haven't had time to do.

So, yeah, for my trip next year, I'll look you up and see if we can make it work!
 
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Aldaron

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Maybe it's just those of us who drive Jeeps that like the drive into the Maze ;)
:)

We did see a new 4Runner just like mine at the Ernie's Country trailhead...I'm not going to lie to you, that was the first time I felt like a pansy on that trip!
 

DAA

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Now I want to go back and go backpacking in there again. When I do, I'll be taking the jet boat.

I've done a lot of hiking. And I like walking. But the walk up from Spanish Bottom is not one I personally enjoy. Especially not when it's hot. Thankfully it's a short walk! But I'd rather drive to the Doll house and start walking, than take the jet boat, anyway. The Spanish Bottom thing is just kind of the icing on the cake to seal the deal for me.

- DAA
 

DAA

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Jeepers... :rolleyes: In my defense, I'm not saying that I disliked the drive in, I'm just saying I liked the jetboat better. Don't knock it 'til you try it! ;)

One thing though - I carry my COLD beer supply with me when I drive. And I can pull over and piss at will :p.

- DAA
 

IntrepidXJ

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Jeepers... :rolleyes: In my defense, I'm not saying that I disliked the drive in, I'm just saying I liked the jetboat better. Don't knock it 'til you try it! ;)

Not knocking it....just have a hard time spending the money when I can easily drive there myself and be on my own schedule.
 

Nick

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One thing though - I carry my COLD beer supply with me when I drive. And I can pull over and piss at will :p.

- DAA

Ok, you win! And that is quite the hill to walk up... I need to redo the 4x4 version of the Maze sometime. Ever since I walked up to the Maze Overlook I've wanted to go back in and car camp there.
 

Artemus

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Jun 25, 2012
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Great report! We are going to miss you Aldaron! But sounds like you are coming back to visit. Hook up with me and we will drive in with a Toyota and hopefully have DAA and IntrepidXJ along. They are good people and we can certainly assist them in the hard parts with their jeeps. :) The drive around Teapot is not all that bad really. I've been wanting to work my way down into Ernie's Country...

(you guys know I am kidding about jeeps - I am an aficionado and former owner)
 
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