In late September I did an overnight backpack trip in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to an amazing spot near the Escalante River. The Golden Cathedral is doable as a dayhike, but at 11+ miles, my companions (my son and a friend) and I decided we'd rather camp and have time to enjoy the spot. It was a great decision.
I kind of wish I'd gotten some photos of the "Egypt Road" on the way in, because it tested the limits of Prius ground-clearance. Imagine our surprise when we got to the trailhead and the only other car there was... yet another Prius.
|Our two Prii. The 3rd was parked on the other side of the trees.|
In some ways, getting to the TH was the hardest part. Once there, we filled out a permit in the box provided, and headed out--down to the Escalante River.
|You can kind of tell where the land changes. The river runs through a shallow canyon in front of the more rounded bits.|
|The river had flooded recently, leaving a lot of drying mud.|
We camped not too far from the river, and finished the hike to the Golden Cathedral with just cameras and water. There had been flooding here, too, reminding us to find a campsite above the highest water line.
|Heading up Neon Canyon|
|First glimpse through a narrow passage to something cool.|
|The Golden Cathedral|
We spent about 2 hours just hanging out, taking photos, watching the light change, and playing with the shadows and reflections. There was some discussion of how cool it would be to see the place in flood, if you could do it without dying. (Actually, it was clear that you could climb to safe places; you just couldn't leave until the water moved on.)
|Reflections of the water on the ceiling. Note the photographer's shadow.|
|Second Son playing with the shadows and reflections.|
Eventually the light left us, and we moseyed back to camp to have some dinner. In the morning we made an early start, to try to climb out of the river bottoms before the day heated up. We saw some flowers, to my surprise. You can also tell from the flower photos how much of the way we were slogging through sand!
|Some kind of sunflower|
|The final climb|
Another long, slow drive back out the Egypt road to camp. More adventures the next day!