This trip report might seem very lengthy. If you want to read it in full I suggest choosing a convenient time.
It’s hard to imagine that a week in Hanksville would be on my wish list for many years. It was and I finally did it.
The core purpose of the trip was a three day canyoneering course with Get in the Wild given by Chris Hagedorn.
My journey begins in Southern California; XM Satellite Radio is really the way to go for good tunes on the road.
Interstate 15 (I-15) north of St. George, Utah is the 80 MPH section. It’s nice to drive at this fast speed but it’s some work because it’s mostly uphill and cruise control fights it. So it’s off & on the gas pedal plus negotiating the RVs and tractor trailer rigs. A good afternoon break is at the Dairy Queen in Cedar City. There are Dairy Queens in St. George, Hurricane, Cedar City and Beaver. If anyone knows of others in the area, please let me know. To get to Highway 89 I cross the mountains on Highway 20 and this is my first time on this road. This is much easier than crossing the mountains on Highway 14. Tour buses and tractor trailer rigs travel on Highway 20 and there are plenty of passing lanes.
I Drive 505 miles in 9 hours and my day ends at the Butch Cassidy Hideout Motel and Café in Circleville. Thank you to Pixie for mentioning this motel to me during my planning phase. I’m going to submit a review on Trip Advisor; there are none now.
Driving east through farm country is nice and I slow down in Loa to get a glimpse of Brian’s Auto Garage where my Jeep Cherokee was towed four years ago for repairs. These are among the most honest auto mechanics I have ever encountered. Fortunately, Pixie was with Mrs. DS and me at the time and she was nice enough to drive us there to pick up the car. I also made a pit stop at Austin’s market in Torrey to buy some six-packs of Polygamy Porter to take home and share with my friends. Why have only one?
I needed one final conditioning hike so I chose Spring Canyon in Capitol Reef NP. This will be two hours downhill then two hours back uphill. This narrow canyon is gorgeous with red rocks, green trees, interesting boulders, sheer cliffs, etc. I’d highly recommend a day here. Another good reason to stop at the visitor center is to purchase my $_10.00 life-time National Park pass.
Traveling east on highway 24 in Caineville I always stop at the Mesa “organic” Farm Market to pick up some fresh hand-crafted goat cheese and a loaf of artisan bread (such yummy food). Further down the road I slow down and glimpse at the Giles town site which is where my vehicle broke down four years ago. There was no cell phone signal here so at the time I grabbed the jumper cables, stood by the side of the road, jumped up and down until a polite soul stopped to help. This is not an enjoyable memory.
I arrive in Hanksville and check into the very nice Whispering Sands Motel.
Today is the first day of the canyoneering course with Get in the Wild given by Chris Hagedorn. We drove to Angel Point which is an outcropping of large boulders. We spent 2-3 hours practicing rope skills tying knots and hitches. We practiced building an anchor and finalized the morning with a short rappel. After lunch we drove to Angel Cove and hiked downhill what seemed like a 1,000 foot drop towards the Dirty Devil River. We chose one canyon, or fork, and spent hours up-climbing and down-climbing obstacles in tight slots. I ripped my shirt and pants and got lots of what Mrs. DS calls trophies (scrapes and bruises).
Back to Angel Point for 2–3 hours of learning more anchoring techniques which were different from yesterday. We also spent time with maps and compass, not only for orienteering but studying contour lines to discover tight canyons and identify escape routes. Plus repeat tying knots and hitches which seem to be my weakness.
Then to the canyon that six or eight of you will remember from last September. However I didn’t get stuck in the crack like some people do and there were no rattlesnakes present. I could understand how a group of 8 guests and 2 guides would be quite slow through here. And yes, I endured that long butt-dragging walk uphill to the car at the end of the day. But in May there is plenty of sunshine getting back to town at 6:30 PM.
Third and final day of the canyoneering course and there is a forecast of 40% chance of a storm. However, it is 100% storm in town. We hold our morning class under the cover over the picnic tables at the city park. More knots and hitches and explanation of additional gear carried in the “toolbox”. After an hour or two the wind and rain have ceased.
We drive south to the North Wash area and park at the Hog Springs rest stop. The chosen canyon is one with a few safe places to duck for cover if the weather turns bad. Naturally it does with rain, thunder, and lightning. It rains and the slick rock is wet (and slick!). A particular alcove is a good size to stay dry for both of us . The rain stops 20 minutes later and we watch the flash flood build up. Waiting does not make it better so we continue on. After a while the rain stops but we get to our final rappel which is a 90 foot free-fall next to a water fall. Unbelievable! Soaking wet we return to the car and return to town.
Today I am on my own and it’s a day of rest and laundry. Last night the storm was heavy and included hail. It is dark and cloudy this morning with scattered showers.
When the rain ceases I drive south on Highway 95 to Hog Springs for a short hike to see the spring. It’s a very pretty place. I continue driving south and watch the scenery. I realize I have never been to that area of Glen Canyon. It is rugged and fantastic to behold the cliffs.
I pulled into the Lake Powell Overlook and was surprised there was no lake! The Colorado River is plainly in sight and across Glen Canyon is the exposed concrete Hite boat launch that now must be at least a quarter of a mile away from the river. I looked up on the internet that Lake Powell water level is down about 800 feet. Lunch was alongside the Colorado River bridge.
I turn around and head back north on Highway 95. Near Hog Springs are a few tributaries to the North Wash. These are considered technical canyons but they can be hiked on foot by anyone for a limited way. I decide to start hiking into these and will turn back when the weather gets worse. An hour and a half later, with rain drops falling on my head, I return to the car. I drive north again and as soon as the rain stops I pulled into the next dirt road leading into another tributary. I enjoy myself hiking another half-hour on foot until the slot canyon section has a pool of water in it. I had enough water experience yesterday so I’m not really interested in water emersion today. Plus I’m wearing shorts and a t-shirt and don’t care to scrape-up my clothes.
Next stop is the Little Egypt Geologic Site. This is best described as a miniature Goblin Valley. This deserves two to three hours of visiting but I don’t think I’m going to have enough time. So, I snap some photos and make a mental note to return another day.
Next destination is Burr Point which is an overlook of the very dramatic Dirty Devil River. It is eleven miles on a dirt road, the clouds are dark, and I can see rain storms to the north of me. Unfortunately after about seven or eight miles there is a very large pool of water covering the dirt road. Reminded of an earlier experience years ago getting the Jeep Cherokee stuck in quick-sand, I no longer drive through pools of water on dirt roads in Southern Utah. So I turned around and left.
The weather forecasts show tremendous storms for the next several days, plus I still have plenty of aches and pains, so I check out of the motel and return home two days earlier than planned.
In the town of Hanksville I was able to feast at all the local establishments. Here is how I rate them starting at the bottom: Lowest is the very nice Duke’s Slickrock Restaurant. The score is low because the “slow smoked” beef brisket has way too much fat in it. It was kinda gross picking the meat apart to get rid of the fat. Chris Hagedorn and his wife Melissa joined me, ordered the beef brisket because he is a southern boy, and he had the same major complaint. Stan’s Shake Shack does a nice job with everything fast food. The décor is nice but the A/C is so darn cold. Blondie’s gets a nudge up on it because the new owner spreads butter on the hamburger bun and it’s so tasty the burger does not need ketchup or mustard to enjoy. And I think the meat was a little larger. The best meal in town for me was the deep-pan pizza baked in the market. It had to be one of the most delicious pizzas I’ve ever eaten and the personal size was only $ 3.99. I could take it to my room to enjoy with a cold brew.
My three days with Get in the Wild was worth it all. I had a week’s worth of fun in those three days. If anyone would like to join me next year, please LMK.