Capitol Reef

We woke up last night about 4 AM to see the stars, but it was pretty cloudy. Mel fell back to sleep, but I had trouble falling back to sleep, mainly because of the herd of deer playing outside the tent. Most of them were eating the grass in the campground, but one was running around and around. I listened closely to see if I could detect where it was, but only heard galloping hoofs around us.

Barn at Capitol Reef

Barn at Capitol Reef

Grass, you ask? Yes, there is grass in this dry, desolate area. The Fremont River cuts through the park along highway 24. The Fremont peoples grew corn, beans, and squash in this area until the mid 13th century, when they and other Southwest cultures disappeared. The only remaining connection to these people are the pictographs and petroglyphs adorning the rocks. Europeans arrived in 1871 and by 1917 the town of Fruita was booming with, believe it or not, orchards. Some historic buildings remain from that time.

Once the Sun peeked over a neighboring butte, the tent transformed into an oven. We packed the car and were off to see more of Capitol Reef for half the day. We decided to spend our time hiking the Grand Wash. This is moderately deep, narrow canyon cut by periodic flash floods. It was hot and the Sun beat down upon us. The only relief was bestowed upon us in the shade of the canyon walls.

Here are some shots from that hike:

Rock climbing

Rock climbing

Inside the Grand Wash

Inside the Grand Wash

Sandstone wall

Sandstone wall

Steep canyon walls

Steep canyon walls

Holding up the wall

Holding up the wall

After walking the Grand Wash, we bid adieu to Capital Reef and headed east toward Colorado through some of the most barren, godforsaken land I've seen. Following route 24, we traversed a few steps of the Grand Staircase. Some of the hues of these rock layers remind me of the Moon.

Gray rock

Gray rock

We had originally planned to go to Arches National Park later today, but Mel was nervous about getting to New York and looking for a job, so we curtailed our travels by a day or two and headed east. We finally reached the end of Utah route 24 and picked up Interstate highway 70.

I-70 is also deserted in Utah: there are precious few roads or towns along the way where one can fill up the tank. Conversely, in Colorado, 70 threads the Rocky Mountains and it is one of the most beautiful rides you can take on an interstate highway. And there are towns and people. Civilization, for better or worse.

We found a campground outside Silverthorne, Colorado in the Arapaho National Forest. As we arrived rain was threatening. We set up the tent while lightening flashed and thunder rumbled ominously. We got the tent up and went back into town for some food. As we got back, it was raining pretty hard, so we raced into the dry tent and talked for awhile, then went to sleep.

Tomorrow we continue east; I wonder how far we'll get.