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PART 1 - Bull Valley Gorge to Willis Creek

PART 1 - Bull Valley Gorge to Willis Creek


Postby ndhudson » Wed Jul 06, 2011 5:11 pm

Date walked: 03/07/2011

Time taken: 12

Distance: 26.5 km

Ascent: 487m

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BullValleyGorge.jpg


When trying to sift through the 600 or so photos that were taken on this trip, I found it very difficult to just pick a few. With this walk, the photos need not show you the way...the way is not hard to follow. No, for this walk the photos are proof of the unbelievable beauty that I would surely fail to describe with words. Hence part 1 and part 2. Please excuse my over indulgence. :shifty:

We had a long weekend for Independence Day so another good long hike in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was just what Gale and I had in mind. Since the first and last legs of this journey were to be in slot canyons we checked the weather and were pleased to see that there was little chance of rain. But not so happy to see the temps...very hot! :o We had never done these canyons before and with 16 miles ahead of us in the deserts of Utah we came prepared with our packs loaded to the brim with 4 gallons of water/gatorade, lunch, a bit of rope and webbing, loads of sunscreen, and all of our other usual survival essentials. Over-prepared is the way we usually roll. :lol: :lol: :lol: In all seriousness though, hiking in these very remote deserts and slot canyons can be very dangerous and should not be attempted without being properly prepared and educated about the area.

Our hike begins at the Bull Valley Gorge trail head and ends at the Willis Creek Trail head, about 2 miles up the road. This last 2 miles is spent walking the dirt road back to your vehicle. We decided to park the truck at the end and get the very exposed and hot road walk out of the way in the wee hours of the morning instead of walking straight into the evening sun. (very glad we did this) After an hour long ride from my dads place where we were staying, we were parked and walking by 6 am.

This hike is made up of 3 legs. For part 1 of this report i will cover only the first leg.

First leg, Bull Valley Gorge (approx 6 miles). This is a deep, dimly lit, narrow slot canyon with striated walls of Navajo Sandstone, often less than six feet wide. A few hundred feet into the canyon is a dry fall of about 10 feet. It's not too hard to scramble down but a short piece of rope to lower packs and to help less sure footed individuals would come in handy here. We didn't have any trouble and our ropes were not needed. Pools of water can make for some tricky obstacles as well, and the corresponding clay mud makes it a little difficult to plant a foot surely. There are about three or four somewhat tricky points to down-climb, but again, none of the rope or webbing that we brought was necessary.

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The entrance to Bull Valley Gorge
BullValley_3.jpg
First down-climb
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About a half mile in, 100 foot walls open to about 30 feet wide above. Here is where we saw the infamous pickup truck. In 1954 a truck full of 3 hunters slid off the west side of the bridge and dropped into the narrow canyon. About half way down the truck wedged itself against the walls of the narrow slot. Sadly, all three men were killed. Their remains were removed from the wreckage, but the truck was wedged so tightly that it is still there today.

BullValley_13.jpg
Look carefully for the wedged truck...


We continued hiking and rock hopping our way down the canyon. So much to see and way too much to put into words! Simply magnificent!

BullValley_14.jpg
BullValley_16-2.jpg
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The peace and serenity of these desert hikes compares to nothing. Dozens of birds singing, trickling water and your own thoughts are the only sounds to be heard. Peace and serenity...leaves me in awe every time.

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cool sunburst in the rock!
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Getting very hot now...
BullValley_26.jpg
Every bit of shade helps...


After a few miles the canyon widens and begins to snake it's way down the rest of the way until we reached the confluence with Sheep Creek. To be continued...See part 2 for more Escalante fun!!! :D
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ndhudson
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Re: PART 1 - Bull Valley Gorge to Willis Creek

Postby Milesy » Wed Jul 06, 2011 10:01 pm

Incredible rock. I would love to do some rock climbing there however I do not like the thought of one of those flash floods coming through those canyons :D
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Re: PART 1 - Bull Valley Gorge to Willis Creek

Postby ndhudson » Wed Jul 06, 2011 10:56 pm

Milesy wrote:Incredible rock. I would love to do some rock climbing there however I do not like the thought of one of those flash floods coming through those canyons :D


Thanks Milesy! Nope, me neither!!! Just heard today that about 40 miles north of this area was hit with 2" of rain in one hour...which means it's very likely Bull Valley Gorge was flooded. Something to be said for timing... :shock:
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Re: PART 1 - Bull Valley Gorge to Willis Creek

Postby Milesy » Wed Jul 06, 2011 11:08 pm

Yeah amazing... it doesnt even need to rain in that area for flood water to appear out of nowhere in apparantly a lovely day :shock:
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Re: PART 1 - Bull Valley Gorge to Willis Creek

Postby canisp » Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:35 am

Jaw dropping scenery :D fantastic rock structure and patterns, i’m not surprised you took over 600 photos.

Steve......
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Re: PART 1 - Bull Valley Gorge to Willis Creek

Postby ndhudson » Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:47 pm

canisp wrote:Jaw dropping scenery :D fantastic rock structure and patterns, i’m not surprised you took over 600 photos.


No doubt, Steve! I think I swallowed a few kamikaze bugs having my mouth wide open in awe the entire time!!! :lol:
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Re: PART 1 - Bull Valley Gorge to Willis Creek

Postby gammy leg walker » Fri Jul 08, 2011 6:02 pm

AMAZING ! AMAZING ! gobsmacked
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Re: PART 1 - Bull Valley Gorge to Willis Creek

Postby ndhudson » Mon Jul 11, 2011 11:10 pm

Thanks Gammy!!! :D
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Re: PART 1 - Bull Valley Gorge to Willis Creek

Postby morag1 » Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:15 pm

What a fab day you must have had in that incredible place !!
well done to you both :thumbup:

i love seeing photos from other parts of the world, especially places I will probably never visit for myself.
Thanks for sharing - will be following the rest of your adventures :D
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Re: PART 1 - Bull Valley Gorge to Willis Creek

Postby ndhudson » Wed Jul 13, 2011 2:51 pm

morag1 wrote:What a fab day you must have had in that incredible place !!
well done to you both :thumbup:

i love seeing photos from other parts of the world, especially places I will probably never visit for myself.
Thanks for sharing - will be following the rest of your adventures :D


A fab day indeed, Morag! Thank you for the kind comments. Never say never :D :D :D
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Re: PART 1 - Bull Valley Gorge to Willis Creek

Postby ChrisW » Wed Jul 20, 2011 9:29 pm

Beautiful pics ND, I remember that Utah desert heat in July but prefer that to the humidity of the south. :shock:

Those slot canyons are truly spectacular but must leave you thinking of the flash floods somewhere in the back of your mind (Lower Antelope canyon 1997 springs to mind) having said that, when I return I will definitely look up this stunning canyon and have a wander myself :D
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Re: PART 1 - Bull Valley Gorge to Willis Creek

Postby ndhudson » Thu Jul 21, 2011 3:30 pm

ChrisW wrote:Those slot canyons are truly spectacular but must leave you thinking of the flash floods somewhere in the back of your mind (Lower Antelope canyon 1997 springs to mind) having said that, when I return I will definitely look up this stunning canyon and have a wander myself :D


Oh yes, Antelope Canyon was very tragic. The danger is real...some are more dangerous than others. These two are very safe in comparison to Antelope, though. Just be very tapped into the weather reports within the general area and ALWAYS use http://www.weather.gov/ for US weather reports. It is the most reliable source.

Wander on, my friend! :D
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