We reentered the juniper forest. The bright yellow flowers of the rabbitbrush added a lovely contrast to the dark green trees. We could hear thunder in the distance, and we were glad to be off the mountain where the sky had turned dark as the storms gained strength in the heat of the afternoon.
As we continued along enjoying the scenery we passed a young woman filling a pickup truck with firewood she’d harvested with a chainsaw from the National Forest we were passing through. The logo on the truck was from a Bed and Breakfast in the area. Gathering firewood is allowed in the public lands as long as you have a permit.
Finally the road leveled out and we came upon the green pastures of Mormon ranchlands. The monsoon rains had been kind to them this year. I stopped to take a picture of the interesting fences they build from the twisted juniper trunks. A dour faced local came along the road toward us as I was shooting and, from his expression, I gathered that they didn’t cotton to strangers thereabouts. I smiled and waved and moved along.
The landscape turned dusty and dry and the juniper smaller and sparser as we drove the final few miles to the intersection with Hwy 12. We took a right back towards Calf Creek and Escalante. This is the section of road, just south of Boulder, that is known as “The Hogsback”.
Before we got to the narrow section, we noticed a pullout that led to a parking area with a few cars. Like a good tourist, I pulled in to see whatsup. It turned out to be the parking area for the Upper Calf Creek Falls Trail. It was quite warm out as I wandered over to where the trail drops onto the slickrock. There was the box where you sign in and out of the trail and a tablet that reminded “Desert Canyons Don’t Care”, words that I would ponder later on.
The view was stunning with the thunderstorms looming over the mountain we’d just abandoned. In the foreground I could see the first couple of cairns that marked the trail down the slickrock to the bottom. I took a few pictures and headed back to the car in time to see Sharon get enveloped in a dust devil. She was less than pleased with all the sand in her eyes and nose so I stifled my amusement.
We got back on the road south and soon came to the very narrow stretch of The Hogsback where the canyon plunges steeply away from the road for several hundreds of feet on both sides. Both hands on the wheel please! We’d never gone this direction over The Hogsback and it seemed a little scarier this way. But fun!
We enjoyed another scenic pullout overlooking Lower Calf Creek Canyon and then continued down Highway 12 past the state campground. We decided to pull into the Escalante River Trail access by the bridge. It was hot out, and Sharon went for a cooling wade before we returned to the car.
After a few more miles, we came upon the Kiva Koffeehouse and pulled in to see what was new.
We learned that they are now serving dinner a few nights a week and had two accommodations available. Neither was inexpensive but, considering the location and the unique structure, it didn’t seem too far off the chart. We looked at the menu and then headed out thinking we might come back for dinner.
Since it was still early enough, we decided to take the drive down the Hole-in-the-Rock Road to the Devil’s Garden. We figured the light would be about perfect for some pictures by the time we drove the 16 miles or so of dirt road off Highway 12. The Hole-in-the-Rock Road is wide and mostly straight and level but washboarded. We made good time as I was able to keep the speed up to smooth out the ripples. We reached the parking area next to the garden of hoodoos.
No hiking required here, just meandering. The hoodoos, like most hoodoos we’ve seen, were quite amusing. Most are between twenty to thirty feet tall and some are in groups, while others stand alone.