We got up the next morning to a landscape that looked like we were on another planet. The Glen Canyon Recreation area has quite a variety of terrain, and it's like nothing else I've seen.
We had heard coyotes a few times through the night, but were surprised in the morning when one of the packs sent a puppy in to try to lure our dogs out. In bounded in to about 10-15 yards from our campsite bouncing in a very playful way until my big dog Slick took notice and started walking out to greet him. We called the dogs back and the puppy just waited there, hoping we'd stop watching long enough to get our dogs back to his pack. I fired off a .45 round to scare him off so we could finish packing in peace. After the coyote was gone it's spotter (a big black crow) started circling us calling for about 10 minutes. Then it landed on a hill and kept calling trying to get the coyotes to come back for our dogs. It was a very weird way to start the day...
We decided that since we had the whole day we should continue on our mission to get onto the Grand Bench. On the way we found out there was a canyon crossing just past this little corral:
There were a couple people there in a truck and they said they had gone out in a side by side earlier so I figured we would be fine (I was wrong...). We dropped into the canyon and started up the other side:
Nothing like doing a little rock crawling while your 50 miles from pavement, on your own, towing a trailer ...
We quickly ran out of traction and jackknifed the trailer so we couldn't back up. The only way out was up at this point:
We had to winch one more time to finish the climb out of the canyon. Now that we made it through that, we were determined to get up onto the bench. We continued on through terrain that reminded me of going through Golden Spike in Moab, lots of slick rock, and no way to go fast. We continued climbing until we got up onto the bench:
The views were spectacular, but we weren't anywhere near the Lake Powell overlook. We decided it would be a bad idea to try to drag the trailer the rest of the way to the overlook alone and that we shouldn't have even come as far as we did, so we turned around and headed back towards Escalante. We crossed back through the canyon relatively uneventfully (scratched up the fender on the trailer a bit) and headed back into the national monument. We took Little Valley Road back to the intersection with Crotan Road and took that North up onto the Kaiparowits Plateau.
There were some spectacular views as we made the climb:
We managed to find a shady spot to stop for lunch off a side road (Reese Canyon Rd):
In the 70-100 miles we'd driven offroad from Big Water, we'd only seen the two rigs. This was Labor Day weekend so you'd think someone else would be out there, but you'd be wrong. This place was desolate and empty, and we were on our own. After lunch we finished the climb, it was amazing that as soon as we crested the plateau the landscape changed:
We got to the intersection of Crotan Rd and Left Hand Collet Rd at about 2PM. We were feeling pretty good, we only had to go about 10 miles to meet up with the Watsons and had a few hours to figure it out. We had scoped out a few nice campsites up on top of the plateau surrounded by shaggy juniper with tons of wood laying around for campfires then we headed down the trail to meet our friends.
Left Hand Collet Rd turned out to be a very neat canyon road, 4 wheel drive was required, but it wasn't bad. I started hearing my trailer chains dragging and figured one of my d-rings fell off or something so when we stopped at a cool balanced rock for pictures we got out to check it out:
Apparently the offshoot rock crawling adventure put a bit too much strain on some of the bolts holding my bumper on and they sheered off:
Thankfully I had my Ready Welder with us and with a little work we were back on the road. We got to the intersection with Hole in the Rock road at about 5 and headed towards Escalante until we got cell service.
Bonus tired dad and dog picture (I was just happy he wasn't coyote food):
After getting in contact with Stephen, we decided we had time to head into Escalante for Dinner since they were running late. We ate, refueled, did some shopping and destroyed a car wash with about 250 lbs of mud. The roads coming down through Boulder UT and down into Escalante turned out to be a lot slower than Stephen anticipated, combine that with a late start and it was a little after 9PM by the time we met up with them at the intersection of HWY 12 and Hole in the Rock Rd. It was too late to get to the campsites we had scoped out, so we just headed back into the park and stopped at the first spot we could find that would fit us all. We traded stories and beers for a couple hours and crashed after a long day for all of us.