Later we made our smoked turkey and swiss cheese sandwiches for our dinner. A lady ranger named Dorita stopped by the site to remind us about the evening talk she was giving about the earlier visitors to the area…the ancestral puebloans. We let her know we’d be there and were looking forward to it.
It was twilight as we gathered for Dorita’s presentation. Peter couldn’t help taking a couple of shots of the dramatic scene.
It was a diverse group and some of the folks in the audience had worked on digs and had studied rock art in the area. It was all quite interesting and increased our anticipation of our upcoming visit to the Edge of the Cedars Museum in Blanding.
We retired as soon as we returned to the campsite. We wanted to be up early so we could begin our Chesler Park Loop hike
as early in the cool morning as we could.
We were up at 6 AM and made a pot of coffee. We ate a breakfast of yogurt and granola and had a can of the spicy V8 juice then drove 3 miles down to the Elephant Hill parking lot. We loaded our packs…Peter had about 5 quarts of water, most of it still frozen, four energy bars a bag of trail mix and the camera bag. Sharon had a gallon of water in frozen tubes as well as her camera bag. Sharon’s not a hat-wearer but Peter had convinced her to bring and wear one of his large billed UV blocking hats.
The packs were heavier than we usually carry but there is no getting around the water requirement…a gallon a day per person. This was going to be a long hike at about 5300'. We’re in pretty good shape but hadn’t done a long hike since the 8 mile Fairyland Loop at Bryce 5 years ago. We decided to see how things went…we could always turn around if it seemed too much.
It is 2.9 miles to the Chesler Park Overlook where the loop begins and it is almost all uphill (at least that's how it seemed) and quite steep in sections. The legs got an early wake-up call on this hike. This wasn’t anything like the wide gravel Fairyland Loop in Bryce. This hike requires climbing and scrambling.
We finally reached the overlook, rested a bit and took in the view. We knew that the next stretch out to the Joint Trail would be easier. Since our legs seemed to be doing fine, we happily continued on.
The next couple of miles were easy packed sand. You could take in the view while you walked. It is a spectacular place. We knew that there were a couple of hikers ahead of us somewhere but we hadn’t seen them since they passed us at the start of the hike.
It was getting pretty warm by the time we got to the top of the Joint Trail,so we stopped for a water break. We kept filling the tubes that had ice with water and enjoyed ice cold water through the entire hike.
The Joint Trail quickly leads you down into the earth.
Between the narrowness and scrambling down, it was slow going at times.
Finally it opened up into a grotto. The sun was lighting up a spot on the floor and the area glowed. People had stacked up small cairns all around the grotto. We made a couple of our own to add to the magical display.