Grand Gulch lies in the new Bears Ears National Monument. This and many other national monuments, including three along the PCT, are now under threat. We wanted to continue writing about our hike so more people can appreciate the archaeological significance and natural beauty of this special place.
Rain fell overnight and into the morning of our third day in the canyon. A cliff overhung Split Level Ruin, keeping it dry. We ate our breakfast up near the ruins and explored the area a bit more as we waited for the rain to calm down.
Split Level Ruin
Hundreds of Ancestral Pueblo pottery shards were scattered on the ground. We feasted our eyes but didn’t touch anything.
The creek had developed a nice flow from the night’s precipitation. The rain eased as we walked, but we still became soaked as we brushed against wet vegetation. On the positive side, all the wet sagebrush smelled fantastic!
We woke to a peaceful morning on the second day of our hike in Grand Gulch. Quiet surrounded us as we filtered water from the creek near Junction Spring.
Cottonwoods thrive along the creek
Backpacking in Grand Gulch in late April
We found an intriguing collection of rock art at Turkey Pen Ruin. It is thought that the sheep pictograph on the right has a spear in its back.
Peering inside an ancestral Pueblo structure
In late April we embarked on a backpacking trip in Cedar Mesa, BLM land in southeastern Utah. We planned to hike from the Kane Gulch ranger station to the Bullet Canyon trailhead in four days. The area is renowned for its concentration of Ancestral Pueblo (previously called Anasazi) ruins and rock art.
We picked up our backpacking permit and got information about current water availability at the Kane Gulch ranger station. Since we were doing a one-way hike, we then drove to the Bullet Canyon trailhead and left our car there, then hitched back to Kane Gulch.
With everything in order, we began our descent into Kane Gulch.
Hiking the Kane Gulch Trail
Dozens of lizards watched us walk past
A massive chunk of rock split off to form this narrow passage.
In May we had the chance to spend a week in Santa Fe with family. We couldn’t wait to visit the desert again! Our itinerary included an excellent day hike in Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. At 3 miles roundtrip, the hike was short, but it included some fantastic geology.
The hike began with flat or gradual uphill sections beneath tall canyon walls. We were impressed that some large pine trees were able to grow despite the difficult conditions.
Family hike in Tent Rocks National Monument
We found a kingcup cactus flaunting its bold red flowers near the trail.
As we continued, the walls around us narrowed. Rock strata were on display with varying white and pink tints. It felt like we were walking through a piece of abstract art.
Uncle Bernie walking through the canyon
The elements had carved beautiful shapes into the rock. Shadows painted the graceful curves.
We’ll begin by describing the most striking event of the last five days. Late at night on day 50, we had an encounter with a bear.
We spend much of our time on the Pacific Crest Trail walking quietly. We observe and enjoy our surroundings, living in the moment. In the same spirit, this post consists only of photographs, so you can view our journey without commentary.
Day 38: Agua Dulce (Mile 454.5)-Dowd Canyon (Mile 475.5), plus 1 mile from town to trail; 22 miles
Day 12: Mile 126.5-140, plus 0.5 miles off trail for water; 14 miles
Day 13: Mile 140-156; 16 miles
Day 14: Mile 156-167.5; 11.5 miles
Day 15: Mile 167.5-179.5 + 2.5 mile side trail into Idyllwild; 14.5 miles
Day 16: Zero day in Idyllwild
In the last few days we experienced many changes in our surroundings and our bodies.
In 53 miles we walked from desert to pine forest, and from 3500 feet of elevation to 8600 feet. Cacti and scrub brush dominated the low lying desert landscape of the Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
By contrast, in the high peaks of the San Jacinto Wilderness, pine trees hugged the mountainsides.
In the desert we rose early, before 6, to walk a few miles before the sun’s heat grew intense. Around noon we found a shady spot to cook dinner and rest. Conversely, high in the San Jacinto range, the temperature was much cooler so we could walk comfortably mid-day.
Day 8: Mile 87-101; 14 miles
We were battered by a fierce storm last night, but stayed dry. Rain continued into the morning, and we emerged from our tent to a sweet rainbow.
We began hiking and found a crazy mix of wind, rain, sun, clouds, and blue sky — sometimes all at once! Looking across the valley, we saw billowing clouds resting on the top of the far ridge with deep blue sky above.
We walked to the water cache at mile 91 where we found many water jugs. Several trail angels puts in a ton of effort to bring water up here. We were grateful as without the cache, this could have been a 33 mile dry stretch.