Heading west from Moab we crossed the high desert of Utah which is beautiful but generally barren with a few houses separated by dozens of miles. After a pit stop in Hanksville (population 200) for a great burger we reached the Fruita campground in Capitol Reef NP. Fruita used to be a Mormon settlement over a hundred years ago and their orchards and some of the houses are still maintained by the park authorities. Thus, we found ourselves camping in beautiful apple orchards with deer munching away fruit all around us, not fearing anything. We asked the ranger for a nice and easy evening trail and she suggested the 3 km Cohab Canyon trail. Yoav decided to stay in the campground so the two of us started the (nice and easy?) hike. It turned out to be a beautiful trail in a deep hidden canyon with some amazing views. Alas, it also turned out to have a huge steep ascent at the beginning and worse it was 3 km in each direction. Thus, when we made it to its edge, we decided, instead of heading back the same way, to go around the mountain on our way back, a theoretical route of 5 km. Using our orienteering abilities (see previous post) we were able to shortcut by crossing some orchards, rivers and a herd of deer to reach the camp and our worried son in time for the ranger evening program. The next morning, we bid goodbye to the beautiful campground and went on some hikes from the scenic route running through the park. We spent the night in the neighboring town Torrey (population ~300) where we had two less than mediocre meals but at least had some good runs and geocaching (yet again, see previous post) before heading to Bryce Canyon NP.
The route between the park (scenic highway 12) winds through a very high mountain range rich in beautiful views but very poor in human presence. Along the route we arrived in tiny Boulder, Utah (not to be confused with the small but renown Boulder, Colorado). In it we ran into an interesting Anasazi State park museum, which is based on an excavation of a settlement from around 1000 years ago of native people who have since disappeared and only stories about them exist with the modern native American tribes. In front of the museum parked the Magnolia street food truck which had surprisingly good food in the middle of nowhere. Along the same theme, we continued our way through Escalante (population ~200) which had a wonderful organic and international food market which can compete with the best San Francisco has to offer out there in the middle of the desert. We had some great coffee, pastries, and even a slice of watermelon after stocking with cheeses and chocolate, they even had the Israeli Elite chocolate, the one with the cow, amongst some of the world’s best.
We based ourselves in the Best Western on the edge of the park (this is the only option; the place is dominated by two huge BW with no other hotel in sight) and headed for an evening stroll to the Mossy Cave and through the falls within the canyon on the outskirts of the park, a nice trail which we enjoyed with excellent weather. The next morning, fearing the projected heat, we managed to pull ourselves out of bed bright and early and went on a long hike from Sunset point (steeply) down the canyon, through the Navajo and Queens Garden trails and back (steeply) up to the Sunrise point. After going back to the hotel for a nice nap we (only two of us this time) went back to the park in the afternoon and went through the scenic drive and a few short hikes with great views and great luck in viewing the wildlife: turkeys, deer, and prairie dogs. The next morning, we headed to Zion NP, a story which will be told in part 3.