Monday, April 8, 2013

Goblin Valley Attempt 2

After hiking to the cave we thought the skies looked pretty safe, so we headed back to Goblin Valley for attempt number two.  It was somewhat crowded, the parking lot was mostly full, which surprised me because we really hadn't seen many cars on the roads today.  Maybe they were in stealth mode.
This is it, Goblin Valley!  It's the weirdest place I've seen in Utah, probably anywhere.  These hoodoos are so cool, and they just aren't your average hoodoo.  It's fantastic, too, because they are completely climb-able as they aren't restricted by silly laws and rules.  Even Bear could come enjoy them!  Thank you to the state of Utah for using wisdom in making decisions about this park.  It's nice to have some freedom to enjoy things without worrying about a million regulations.
The kids had a blast playing on the rocks.  They tried getting on top of a few.  And that eventually led to hide-n-seek.  Which is pretty entertaining here.  I was surprised at how quickly they could disappear.  And that made me glad they weren't toddlers. :)

It really feels like you are on a martian planet somewhere when you are wandering around in the bottom.  I would love to go back again and spend more time playing.

You can barely see Xander's head poking out up there.  These are much taller than they look, and there are hundreds of them at least!

I love that Aliyah will let her sister know when she is done posing for pics!
Josh found a way up to the top of this one!

 So, there we were, enjoying the landscape, and BAM!  Dark ominous clouds start cruising our way.  I saw them, and thought, please go around us.  I think it only made them start moving faster.
 The dark sky did make for an awesome picture.  But, in the time it took me to snap this, and then decide we should maybe head to the car, I couldn't see the kids.  They were oblivious, playing games.  And they were very, very good at hiding.  This was going to be tricky.

Bear is afraid of thunder.  He can hear it when it is miles away, before I can hear it.  So I knew when he started to panic that I should probably be concerned.  He knew it was coming, I was still hoping it wouldn't be a big deal.  But, flash flood country, I knew we had to be careful.  So, I sweet talked him into helping me look for the kids as the thunder got close enough for me to hear.

It was frustrating, I would see one of the kids, and head for them only to have them disappear again.  And the storm was getting closer, the sky was now dark.  And Bear was ready to bolt to the car without me.  Such a brave dog.

And then, a crack of lightning and thunder and the sky started dumping rain so fast you couldn't see through it.  And then the temps dropped about 15 degrees in maybe 30 seconds.  Not cool.  The rain was coming so fast that little rivers were forming all around me.  And I was running and calling the kids but they couldn't hear me or see me.  I finally ran into Brynja, and she didn't know where the others were.  She saw them in a cave area, and then she went back there and they had left.

Then, the rain became huge pieces of icy, cold hail.  It hurt like crazy, and it was so cold!  The ground was now solid mud, and our shoes were getting caked in it.  Our clothes were soaked through.  And Bear was going to the car whether I wanted to or not.  I decided to hope that the kids had the sense to run back to the car.  And then I realized if they did, it was locked.  So, Brynja, Bear and I ran through the hail and wind to the car.  The kids were not there, and I was freaking out.  We got in, and I turned the car on, mostly because we couldn't see out the windows due to how quickly they fogged up.  I turned the car lights on hoping Josh, Leah or Xander would see them and head back.

It was hailing so hard, and was so windy that none of us had heard each other yelling.  The other kids had not been far behind me.  They had seen me running with Bear, and just followed.  But I never saw them or heard them.  And they had never heard me.  It was the craziest storm I think I've ever been caught in!
Thankfully, we all made it back safely to the car.  We had to wait a while for the windows to de-fog enough that I could actually drive.  It took a good 7-10 minutes of air blowing full blast.  And now the car smelled like wet dog, wet camping people, and was full of red mud.  (Some of which we just noticed on the ceiling a month later....)
Brynja, thawed out and thinking it was a pretty cool adventure.
Wet, cold, shivering, and wondering how the heck the weathermen could be so incredibly wrong.  I want their job.  Seriously, how many jobs are there that you can be wrong over and over and over and never be in jeopardy of losing your job?  Not to mention people still listen to you and believe you.

Stay tuned, the trip gets even more adventuresome!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Dodging Storms

More from our adventures over Spring Break...

We needed to get gas for the car before we went exploring, so we headed to Hanksville.  I am also always on the lookout for our perfect "forever" home.  So, this gave me a chance to check out the "town".  Hanksville is definitely not the perfect location.  I think the economy has done to it what it did to Detroit.  Just on a smaller scale.

On the up side, we got a chance to visit Hollow Mountain.  That was really weird, and really cool all rolled into one gas station.It really is carved into this rock.  And if you wander around the inside you can see the walls in the back hallways are the rock itself. Definitely worth the stop in Hanksville to see this.

Yes, she is running barefoot. We have a disease in my family, we need to be barefoot all the time. So, in the 3 minutes between getting the maps at the BLM office and getting here, she was barefoot, and not super excited to have to put them back on so soon.

The other useful place in Hanksville is the BLM offices.  You can get loads of free maps, brochures, helpful advice from the people there, etc.  That is a must if you like adventuring.

Once we had finished the experience of Hanksville we headed back toward Goblin Valley.  The weathermen had promised sunny skies and perfect temps, but alas, they can't predict Utah weather.  So, as we approached Goblin Valley so did a storm.  And it hit the parking lot the same time we did.  So, after seeing the dirt become mud in about 2 minutes we decided to head toward the other off-road roads we saw earlier and to try to find some hiking.  And, just before the road from Goblin Valley hit Temple Mount Road we saw this very large cave off to the West!  It is very hard for me to see something so large and so accessible and to not feel the need to have an adventure.  So we found a dirt road heading toward the cave and parked.

Off we went!  Most of use were pretty excited about the adventure of finding our way to the cave.  But we had one want-to-be party pooper.  "He" was told to hike along and either be silent or pretend like he was enjoying himself.  It only took about a half mile for "his" mind to change.
We had a pretty easy hike, which was very good since I had just gotten over most of my pneumonia incident.  I hadn't been up to running again, but wanted to get some kind of physical exercise going.  It felt good to be outside, in the sun, and for the most part, breathing.  We had a bit of trail through a sandy wash, and then the rest of it was crossing huge petrified dunes of sandstone.  Those are fun, and usually there are tanks to be found or at least small pits of water.  Those are perfect for the dog, who can drink as he hikes, or sometimes he can wade in to get a drink.
You can see the tall sandstone "castle" in the background.  That is just outside of Goblin Valley.  And the ominous clouds that kept following us everywhere we went.
We found a series of tanks on the way up and decided we would explore them more on the way back.  Due to a couple of people needing potty stops the boys had gone ahead to the cave, and Bear and I stood guard.
He can't stay out of a puddle when we hike.  But, it does make it easier to hike with him, he is responsible for his own water.
We left little trail markers as we went.  Crossing the dunes you can't really mark a trail (unless you can find a few loose stones to make a cairn out of), and you can't really see where others have gone.  So we tried to make it a point to mark when we could so we would have an easy time getting back to the car.  The funny thing was, once you got a little past this spot you could see the car most of the time, or you knew which way to head without a worry.  I guess it was good practice for the kids to think about marking a trail...
There were cactus plants all over if there was any sand for them to grow in.  The kids had tried roasting one and decided it was tasty.  Like grass, but better.  And they were hoping to come across some barrel cactus for water.  They were trying to make more useful Survival People videos.
The view from on top of the dunes was spectacular.  You could see for miles, and the interruptions in the horizon were perfect!
The storms from earlier in the morning had left a lot of water for Bear.  Lucky dog!
And finally, a tank for for swimming, almost.  If he were just a bit smaller.
It's hard to see it, but we are almost to the cave.  This little wash led right up to it.
This is just a perfect example of God showing how complementary colors work.
And we arrived at the cave!  It was GINORMOUS!  And it had Indian petroglyphs inside.  Which makes sense.  The storm had been following us, and I had told the kids if it started dumping we could hang out in the cave.  The Indians clearly thought the same thing.
Baby barrel cactus!  No water inside.
Desert flowers are so pretty!

Baby yuccas, they are so adorable this size!
Brynja, holding survival supplies in her shirt.  We couldn't believe how big this cave was!  It's even got two layers inside, and a smaller one next to it.  Water can do some serious carving.

The boys showing off their finds (since they cheated and got there first).

That gives you a better perspective on the size of this thing!  And that's just the front half!
That is the hole that has been carved in the ceiling.  The water washes down inside during flash floods and swirls around carving out the cave then washes out.  Probably took a few million years, but it's pretty amazing!
The second cave, it's much shorter in height, but nearly as wide as the other one.
The view from the cave.
This was a side trip that was definitely worth it!  What a fun and easy hike to an amazing place!

Heading back to the car to search for more adventures!  I think this hike ended up being about 2.75 miles (I maybe told the kids it looked like the cave was a mile away... close, but one child was not amused by my estimate being off so much.  Although the complaint came after it was all over and said child kept talking about how it was so much more fun than "he" had expected.....)
We visited the tanks on the way back, and they were worth the little side trip.  Had it been warmer I might have gone for a wade in the cleaner one.
 I thought this was the coolest rock we saw the whole day!  Check out the swirly action in that thing!
The last adventure was looking for a short cut down to the wash, that was not going to work.  Turns out that is the edge of a hundred foot or so wash.  No short cut for us.
If you'd like to figure out where we were so you can find the caves this map might help!  I only mapped it from a little past the cave on the way back to where we parked.  So, it probably was about 2.75 miles round trip, but very little elevation change.  Definitely do-able for even little people.

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