An Article from Aaron's Article ArchiveBig Rock in a Hidden Nook
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Big Rock in a Hidden Nook
Thursday, 18 March 2010 10:28 PM MDT
Yakkity Yak, Astounding Adventures
So Kendall and I went hiking again. This time we parked at the new Washington, Utah exit against the base of the red cliffs Interstate 15 passes by and started up the road, into the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve along the Grapevine Trail.
We followed the path (it was a dirt road) as it wound up the hill then headed northward beneath power lines that feed a well in the sandstone watershed foothills of Pine Valley Mountain.
About two-and-a-half miles up the road, the road ended (at the wellhead) as did the power lines, and before us, in a sandy bowl, was a big chunk of sandstone at the very bottom of the bowl, surrounded on the west by black basalt cliffs from an extinct volcanic vent (an old cone stood above the cliffs, likely the source of the ancient lava flow), and on the east by the sandstone foothills of Pine Valley Mountain.
Despite the path being a road instead of a hiking trail, it travels through beautiful desert terrain. The weather was cool, a storm mounting north of us atop Pine Valley Mountain, the sun sinking quickly in the west, the air pleasantly cool as the distant storm blew soft tendrils of breeze down from the mountain towards us.
And the sandstone playground at the end of the hike was well worth it! Grapevine Trail ends and Bracken's Loop Trail begins at the rock. I don't know what the rock's called, so I started calling it Bracken's Rock.
At the base of the rock, Grapevine Wash forks and winds around the rock base on either side, carving the sandstone, sculpting it as only nature can. Both Kendall and I had to scramble up the rock to the top, just to say that we did. I sat for a bit on the top, then stood, as the breeze picked up and began gusting from the north as the distant storm boiled and brewed above on the mountain slopes.
Before we left, Kendall and I had to test the acoustics by singing at the top of our lungs. Sure enough, the black basalt cliffs on one side and sandstone hills on the other provided perfect echo surfaces, singing right back at us.
We departed Bracken's Rock following the Bracken's Loop Trail northeastward along the base of the basalt-sprinkled hillside, then eastward, then up out of the wash bottom to the base of the sandstone cliffs there, then southward. Since we didn't have a map and weren't sure how long Bracken's Loop would be, and since it was getting dark quickly, the sun having set some time ago, we decided it was best to turn south, and followed a fork of the wash along the sandy bottom bottom, then linked up again with the original Grapevine Trail.
The hike back was enjoyable in the dark, the storm behind us on the mountain blowing cool, cool air against our backs, and the lights of Washington glimmering here and there before us.
We rounded the end of a hill and angled westward again, and suddenly, spread before us, below us, were all the lights of St. George and Washington, revealed in their glory. It was beautiful.
Thankfully, the lights of the communities reflected of the cloud cover to light our path, since no stars were visible, and the sliver of moon we'd seen earlier was now obscured by thickening cloud cover.
When we arrived back at the vehicle, my GPS claimed our adventures had taken us 6.28 miles. Not bad for me, considering that post-Sept. surgery I could barely walk a few city blocks (back in October).
Thanks again, Kendall, for some good, fun exercise in the beauty of Southwestern Utah's spectacular desert landscape.
P.S. Kendall, you'd better post some of your pictures.