Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Capitol Reef, Day 2--Hiking Grand Wash and Goblin Valley

Sunday was another great day!  Before we headed back into the park, we stopped by the veteran's cemetery across the road from the RV campground, to look at all the graves festooned with American flags flapping in the wind--to remember all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.  Quite moving to see all these flags.  Then we drove into the park, stopping first to see some more petroglyphs that we had missed the day before.  No matter how many of these I see, they never cease to fascinate me.  Just standing there looking at what sometimes appear little more then stick figures, but created by ancient people so long ago.  And when you think they were scratching these into the surface of the rock, it becomes more and more amazing that they could end up with figures like this at all.  I mean, it's not like they were using a paint brush or a Sharpie!  Anyway, just standing there looking at them, imagining what inspired the particular figures--sometimes it seems so logical to deduce that they were celebrating a successful hunt, or harvest, but the ones that most intrigue us are those that appear to be less concrete, more abstract, and not really depicting a person or an animal--like the spirals.  These seem to indicate a more spiritual depth, which seems to be the path to our connectedness with all peoples, in whatever age or place.  Anyway, it was nice because we were there early and there were not many folks there other than us, so it was quiet and peaceful, making contemplation easier.

Then off to do the Grand Wash Hike--we had first considered doing the Cassidy Arch hike, but it was described as a strenuous hike and pretty steep.  After some of the steep places the day before, we decided to tackle something a bit less strenuous, so we went to Grand Wash.  This hike is basically walking along the dry wash where, after a rain, flash floods fill the wash with rushing water.  There are signs all over not to start this hike if storms are threatening.  AFter looking at some pictures in the visitors center of two shots of the same location--one when it's dry, and the other when it had rained--you begin to appreciate how suddenly the same, dry-as-a-bone place can in the blink of an eye turn into a dangerous torrent of water that would give you virtually no chance to escape.  But the weather was sunny and dry, with no forecast of rain.  The farther we went up the wash, the narrower it became, with the canyon walls getting closer and closer together.  It was quite interesting to see the different color patterns on the rock walls, though much of the was was quite soft sand or loose small pebbles, so it was  a lot slower going than it appeared at the outset, in some places like the deep soft sand of the beach.  So we hiked for a while and then came back out, to head out of the park to see the Valley of the Goblins.

We had seen the pictures of this place and, even it looked really intriguing.  It's actually in a state park, so the drive out of Capitol Reef took us a bit of time to get there, but the landscape changed dramatically as we drove.  From the brilliant red rocks, the scenery changed to yellow/gray mounds.  Looked for all the world like the mounds of gravel at the Vulcan Quarry near Cherry Log.  But, even though in some places the surface was loose, most of these were still hard rock.  This is an area open to off roaring and atv's so we could see many tracks up the sheer sides of these hills.

By the time we got to Goblin Valley State Park, it was high into the afternoon and it was quite hot.  But this place is remarkable---it literally is a valley, strewn with smooth, rounded hoodoos all over, all looking like hundreds and thousands of little goblins. It was first discovered in the late 1920's by cowboys searching for cattle.  When they came to a vantage point looking down on this valley, they saw 5 buttes and a valley of stangely shaped rock formations, surrounded by a wall of eroded cliffs, and were in awe of the sight.  They first called it Mushroom Valley, but later, when it was designated as a state park the name became Goblin Valley.  The goblins are made of Entrada sandstone consisting of debris eroded from former highlands.  Geologists see evidence that they were once near an ancient sea, tidal channels and coastal sand dunes, with the edges of these formations weathering more quickly than the other parts, thus leading to the smooth, spherical-shaped figures. So we hiked down into the Valley of the Goblins, up and down some open spaces and to the edge of a large valley.  Quite impressive.  This area was also filled with the sounds of running, jumping, laughing children, crawling all over the different shapes of rock formations, using their imaginations to decide what each formation looked like.  Really a happy place!  And, though it's hard to describe, it's an area wonderful for kids, since there is so much open space and plenty of higher up vantage points where parents can keep an eye on their kids as they roam the valley floor, just a few feet below.  Anyway, I'll post a number of pictures later on and you can see how different these formations are.  Some were downright funny as you looked at them an let your mind wander off in different directions, coming up with multiple images that the rock formations resembled.

We got back to the campground for a little rest and down time, and then tried our hand at making hummus, from a recipe out of the Blendtec book--mashing up garbanzo beans and adding a few spices along the way.  We ended up adding a bunch more spices and hot sauce to the rather bland rendering of the book's recipe, but it was neat to play around with it to make our own.  Hummus has become a staple for us for late afternoon snacks, with celery and carrots, and we've sampled many different varieties we've found in stores.  But, the local Torrey grocery didn't have any, so we decided to improvise!

Saw our new friend, Brian, whom we had met on the hiking trail the day before, staying at the campground and walking his two beautiful golden doodles!  They were so gorgeous, and were having the time of their lives romping around on the vast expanses of green grass of the RV park--Dillon and Daisy Mae!  Brian had told us that all these kids in the park fell in love with the dogs when he was first walking them, and would com up to his trailer, knock on the door and ask if Daisy could come out to play!  What a trip!  Anyway, turns out we had a lot more in common--his motorcycle accident and my bicycle accident, various knee problems, etc.  It's so great to meet folks in the campgrounds or on the trails; makes this adventure so much fun!

This morning we were up and out early, leaving Capitol Reef, heading for Arches and Canyonlands.  But before we left Torrey, we had to stop by the Torrey Greenhouse, our delightful little discovery of fresh greens, to load up.  We had gone through all the lettuce, and, last night when I was cutting lettuce for salad, both of us were just floored at how you could hear it CRUNCH when I cut it, it was that fresh!  Not sure I had ever heard that sound before.  So we loaded up on more, and new varieties of lettuce, more spinach and some kale--never knew there were so many different varieties of kale before--we laughed when we crammed it all into our fridge--virtually the whole space is filled with greens--hey Jim, I know you're just salivating over this thought, LOL!  But we're fixed for our smoothies for a while now with the best tasting greens you could ever imagine!  And Trisha sauteed some of the spinach last night with a little garlic and it was out of this world!

On the way toward Hanksville, we stopped at a little place called Mesa Market--had seen it the day before on the way to the Valley of the Goblins, but it was closed, since it was Sunday.  Had a big sign advertising fresh produce, but the man who was in there said it was too early for his veggies.  He had a lot of interesting natural essential oils and salves he described as having been made by a Navajo woman and how they were all good for healing various ailments.  We passed on that, but what he did have that we took along with us were wonderful round loaves of fresh baked-in-the-brick-oven-utside whole grain wheat, rye and pumpernickel combination.  Boy was that delicious!  So we munched on a bit of that wonderful stuff as we continued on our way--what a treat!  And the little place was on Luna Mesa road--how appropriate, since there were mesas all around, rising out these great gray mounds I was describing earlier, and it definitely gave you the sense of being in the midst of a lunar landscape.

We stopped in Green River to see the Major John Wesley Powell River Museum, named after the one armed Civil War veteran who made the first expedition down the Green River and Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.  Not sure who is in charge of this museum, but it was looking a bit forlorn, with grounds that needed tending, peeling paint and busted locks on doors--quite different from many of the museums we've seen thus far.  Some interesting facts we learned, once this sweet little lady running the place figured out how to get the video started, after Trisha gave her a few helpful hints!  Anyway, we'd seen some reenactment films of this earlier at the Grand Canyon, but this was a different film and a slightly different take on things in some places.  Realized that there are different opinions of what Powell's boats really looked like, as the replica here was a bit different from that we had seen at the place near the Grand Canyon.

Then on to Moab, which is a hopping little town!  This place is just teeming with folks in trucks, jeeps, off road vehicles, loaded up with bikes, kayaks, all sorts of equipment for any kind of outdoor activity you can think of.  Plus the downtown has all sorts of neat looking little shops and restaurants.  We had thought we might camp in Arches National Park, but their campground was full, as was that at Dead Horse Point State Park.  So we stopped in at the Information Center to get our bearings and see what all our options were.  The woman there was most helpful, giving us hiking maps, showing us where biking trails are, and telling us that the park campgrounds just stayed full, so she pointed us to a good commercial campground right in town, which is excellent!  We're only 4 miles from Arches and easy driving to Dead Horse Point and Canyonlands, so this will be fun.  With Trisha's recent history of back difficulties, we're not gonna do anything that would risk any reinjury, so we'll pass on the off road stuff, and the slick rock bike trails which are described as being "challenging for the experienced cyclist!"  But here's a lovely 10 mile paved trail, separated from the road, which we'll definitely explore, probably  in lieu of the rappelling adventures advertised, as well!

We asked her about a health food store, and she showed us how it was within walking distance of the Information Center.  So, we figured that since we only needed a few items, we only took one of our resuable bags with us.  And, lo and behold, just as we crossed the street, Trisha spied a yarn store, so she sent me along to the health food store while she immersed herself in this lovely store full of wonderful wool yarns and lovely patterns!  Well, by the time I got back to the store--since she needed my wallet!--she was about to send out a search party it took me so long.  But the reason was that it was just about the coolest health food store I've ever been in!  Such wonderful choices, lots of lovely grains and soup mixes, organic dates and figs, and so many varieties of these neat Indian heat and eat rices and lentils and other unique veggie toppings.  We had discovered this brand at Costco back in Georgia some time ago, but they usually only have one or two choices, but this place had tons of them, many we had never seen  before.  So, by the time I was finished, the one bag--a pretty large one at that--was just about bursting at the seams.  When Trisha saw how much I had lugged out of the store, she first said she should have gone with me to control my spending, but once we got back to the RV and she started seeing what came out of the bag, she asked "Can we go back there before we leave Moab??"  Boy did we have a feast tonight--mushroom takatak over ginger lentil rice, with a salad of crunchy lettuce that was still growing in the ground 10 hours earlier!  Yum, yum!  By the way, forgot to mention that last night I finally cooked some black rice that we had bought when we first started out, but had never fixed.  We had never seen this before, but the it looked so intriguing and it's loaded with antioxidants, so we bought it, and is it ever good!  It cooks up into a wonderful almost purple color and is delicious--highly recommend it!

Anyway, Trisha is just finishing off this absolutely adorable pink, frilly, fluffy tutu outfit for our nephew's little girl, as we wind down the day.  Looking forward to tomorrow!

Some pics:
Some shots at the campground

Replica of old chuck wagon in the campground

Cemetery across the road from the campground

Realized that in the previous post, where I was talking about what we learned about the three different layers of rock formations, I didn't include illustrative pictures, so here are three shots where you can see these three different layers

 Above and below, distance shot and then telephoto of Cassidy Arch--named after Butch Cassidy, who legend says hid out in this area

 shots along the Grand

 Whenever we see a rock balanced like this on a ledge, it looks like it could fall at any minute.  Of course, due to erosion and the forces of wind and water, it will, eventually, but not likely for a long time.  Just don't want to be in this spot when it does fall!

Driving into Goblin Valley State Park
 First view of some of the goblin looking hoodoos as we drove into the park

 You can see why the first cowboys who saw these called this mushroom valley.

 Looks like they're all watching us as we approach!!
 You can see the first ridge on the edge of the valley, with the greener rock wall farther in the background

ET phone home!!
 The row of judges!

 Reminded us of the circle of friends sculpture we have on our back deck.

 On the road back to Capitol Reef, there were these great, wide expanses of beautiful orange wildflowers--this picture doesn't fully capture it, as it looked just like a sea of orange as you looked out on either side of the road.
At the Torrey Greenhouse
 Here's our buddy, searching for the perfect lettuce!
 Swiss chard, he suggested that we add it to our green smoothies!

Little Mesa Market, on the way toward Hanksville
 Some shots of the Luna Mesa area


  1. Wow, I would have never guessed you could buy such fresh greens and healthy food in that arid part of Utah! Thanks for letting us fellow vegan travelers know! Sounds like your RV kitchen (and fridge) are getting quite a workout these days!

    1. Lynne, if you're ever in Torrey, definitely check this place out! We're in Moab now and found the most delightful health food store (now that we've become vegan, that term just sounds like it ought to be redundant, don't you think??) called Moonflower. I went in yesterday with just one bag for a few items and came out overflowing!