Kathy and I finished up the river season on Sept. 2 and began preparing for our Fall road trip to California. The centerpiece of this trip would be the Hammerlee family reunion at Carpinteria State Beach, a tradition going back quite a number of years. Our route to California would first take us to southern Utah, where we hoped to explore some previously overlooked slot canyons tributary to the Escalante River and other sites of interest. After picking up the NY Times Sunday paper 0f 9/7 at the Dixon Market, we headed out. We traveled west via Cuba and Shiprock, NM, passed near the Four Corners, and followed the San Juan river to Bluff, UT, where we camped for the night at the Sand Wash BLM Campground and river put-in. The first photo to be seen below is the very spot, as photographed from the air earlier this year. The bridge over the San Juan is seen at bottom, with Sand Wash CG just upstream. To the left is the Bluff airport. It began raining that night.
Our next destination was the Valley of the Gods, an area of sandstone monuments just west of Bluff. Traveling west along the loop route through this area brings you to the base of the Moki Dugway, a road that ascends to the top edge of Cedar Mesa and provides ready access to the viewpoint at Muley Point.
We continued north from Muley Point, across the considerable mass of Cedar Mesa. At the junction close to Natural Bridges National Monument, we turned southwest and headed for Lake Powell, and the ferry at Bullfrog Basin. We crossed over Clay Hill Pass and arrived at the ferry to learn that we had missed its last departure of the day, at 2 PM. So, it was back over Clay Hill Pass to the junction with the road to Hite. We crossed over the Colorado River at Hite and found a nice roadside campsite in North Wash, on the way north towards Hanksville. This site was marked by a sign about the exciting canyoneering to be had in the adjacent slot canyons. It rained that night and the next morning, and we got to see ephemeral waterfalls coming off the slickrock.
Part 2 of our road trip will continue with breakfast at Hanksville, Capitol Reef National Park, the traverse of Boulder Mountain to Boulder and Escalante and finish with our next night’s camping destination, at Kodachrome Basin State Park.