An Article from Aaron's Article ArchiveHiking and Cache Hunting on the Hurricane Canal Trail with AlAndaluz
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Hiking and Cache Hunting on the Hurricane Canal Trail with AlAndaluz
Saturday, 15 June 2002 9:45 AM MDT
Cache Visited: All Washed Up in Chinatown by tslack2000 & Cach-U-Nuts
Saturday, 15 June 2002 - 9:45 A.M. MDT (-0600)
It was a dark and stormy night. Oh, wait. I wish it had been a dark and stormy night last night, because Southern Utah desperately needs the rain. But that's another story.
Instead, it was a clear, dry morning when I arose to the beeping of my PDA alarm, earlier than I normally rise on a weekend because I planned to go cache hunting with my brother and a coworker and we wanted to get a head start before the June desert heat arrived with full force in the afternoon. My brother (Percible) and I were to meet AlAndaluz at the Hurricane Canal Trail Head up on the Hurricane hill at 7:30 A.M.
I'd stayed the night at my parents' home in Hurricane in anticipation of the cache hunt. My brother recently moved back with my parents, so I went into his room to wake him. He mumbled his response to me and indicated that he didn't want to come. I suspect that he'd lost the mind over mattress battle. Though I tried, I could not convince him. He and a friend of his had hiked to this cache site just yesterday (Friday), but without the hint, though they'd searched, they didn't find the cache. Perhaps the disappointment was still too fresh on his mind.
Nevertheless, I still intended to find this cache. It has been on my mind for some time now, since TSlack2000 and Cach-U-Nuts placed it over two months ago. So I contacted AlAndaluz to verify that he was still coming. He was, though he hadn't yet left the St. George area, so we moved the meeting time up to 8:00 A.M. That gave me time to have a hearty breakfast, so I wasn't complaining.
I arrived at the meeting place, the parking lot at the trail head below the cellular telephone towers near the big curve in State Road 59 as it tops the first part of the climb up the Hurricane hill, and had to wait another 10 to 15 minutes. It turned out that construction on Interstate 15 had further delayed his arrival. He pulled into the parking lot just as I was applying a liberal coat of sunblock from a spray bottle to my exposed skin.
I grabbed my fanny pack with it's full pair of water bottles and jumped in his vehicle. We then proceeded up the hill on SR-59 to where a dirt road took off to the north, which we followed, winding our way along it, following the friendly signs at several subsequent intersections, until we arrived at the Virgin Dam Trail Head parking area just above the Virgin River where the diversion dam removes water from the river for Hurricane and LaVerkin irrigation as well as for storage in Quail Creek Reservoir (and now Sand Hollow Reservoir).
At 8:30 A.M. we signed in at the trail registration box, then started down the trail, which first winds along the top of the cliffs of the Virgin River canyon, then soon descends all the way to the bottom, arriving at the river where the old Hurricane Canal diversion dam used to be, a place just downstream of a narrower stretch of canyon, and downstream of the current diversion dam. There are only a few remnants of the old Hurricane Canal diversion dam structure left.
After snapping a photo or two with AlAndaluz's digital camera (perhaps he will post a shot or two), we continued along the trail, which now followed the route of the Hurricane Canal itself, sometimes on the bank of the canal, and other times going right down the middle of the canal itself.
There are a few spots where the canal flowed through tunnels carved out of the rocks of the canyon walls and one following the trail can either divert around, or go through the tunnel. I usually chose to go through the tunnels, but AlAndaluz, being taller than I, found the tunnels a bit more cramped.
I enjoyed reading the several signs posted along the trail that told about the construction of the canal, the an amazing feat for those pioneers working without modern machinery. I also think this canyon is beautiful, in a rugged, desert sort of way. The river itself was crystal clear, or emerald green in slower moving pools, though there wasn't a lot of water in it, due both to the drought, and the diversion of some portion of the flows for irrigation and culinary use.
The trail eventually rounded a turn entering the Chinatown Wash. At this point, the trail departs the canal, and descends to the bottom of the wash, then climbs back up the other side of the was to the canal. We (actually I) elected to round the chain-link barrier across the canal and continue up the wash along the canal. Soon the canal came to another tunnel section, preceeded by a short length of pipe through which the water had flowed. We walked across the pipe to the tunnel entrance, and continued through the tunnel. On the other side, the canal continued for a ways, then entered another tunnel with a much lower ceiling.
When we exited the second tunnel, almost immediately the canal entered a third but very short tunnel, and the entrance to it was narrow. I squeezed through without having to remove my fanny pack, walked the few yards to the other end, and discovered that the other side was impossible to exit, so I turned around and climbed back out to where AlAndaluz waited. This was the end of the road, so we either had to turn around and go back, or climb down to the bottom of the wash from here. The latter turned out to be very easy, so that's what we did.
Once in the bottom of the wash, we clambered over the boulders upstream to where the canal crossed the wash, the Chinatown Flume. At last, we were at ground zero, and the entire area was shaded by the cliffs of this box canyon.
I came prepared, with a print-out of the cache description, the hint decrypted. Because this site is in a box canyon, my G.P.S. kept losing the signal. Fortunately, with the hint, this wasn't a problem. I admit I did explore a few nearby interesting nooks where a cache could easily be hidden, even though, having read the hint, I knew where I should be looking. As soon as I clambered further up the rocks of the wash bed to the canal flume itself and began looking in earnest in accordance with the clue, it was only a moment when I spotted the cache box, a green ammo box with a slick Geocaching sticker on the outside.
AlAndaluz climbed up and joined me as I wrote one of my long log book entries. There in the cache, was the Sylvester the Cat pen that I'd given to Tslack2000 and Cache-U-Nuts at the Dusty Trails event cache over two months ago. I added a blue plastic cube thing-a-ma-jig (probably a desk note holder clip/paper weight) I got down in Las Vegas last month at NetWorld+Interop, one of those big computer networking shows, and took a purple screwdriver.
While AlAndaluz made his much briefer log entry, I tested the acoustics of the box canyon, yelling and singing at the top of my lungs, and climbed on top of the flume. When AlAndaluz finished, he repackaged the cache, then I hid it back where it was, and we prepared to depart.
We left the cache site following the canal downstream. On this side of the wash, there is a regular, easily passable trail along the canal, that joins up with the canal trail at a junction with several explanatory signs. Apparently this is the Chinatown Wash spur trail that, had we kept on the main trail, descended to the bottom of the wash and climbed up the other side where the trail does, we would have had a much easier time getting to the cache site. Nevertheless, I must admit, I enjoyed our little exploratory adventure, and the additional tunnels.
It didn't seem like we'd hiked far when the canal trail departed the canal and climbed steeply up the Hurricane hill. By this time, the sun was much higher, and it was getting hot. No, it was hot, but not nearly as hot as if we were hiking in the afternoon (like my crazy brother and his friend had just yesterday). I huffed and puffed my way up the hill, and with several rest stops and my drinking the rest of my second water bottle at a rapid rate, we made it to where the canal trail rejoins the rim trail.
Up out of the canyon, there was no shade, so we didn't dally, but kept a steady pace the last few miles winding along the trail atop the Hurricane hill. We paused only briefly at the panoramic overlook point on the trail. Truly, it has an impressive view, overlooking the verdant green Hurricane and LaVerkin valleys, with views of Pine Valley Mountain, Hurricane and Smith's Mesas, and the cliffs in Zion National Park, but the heat kept us from lingering to enjoy it.
The last mile went by quicky, and we soon were hiking down the hill along SR-59 toward the trailhead where I'd left my vehicle. We arrived at the end of the hike at about 11:20 A.M., not yet even a full three hours from the time we departed at the other end of the trail. My G.P.S. odometer said we'd hiked 5.4 miles.
Oh, the delights of modern air conditioning! What a luxury that those hard working canal construction workers didn't have. We drove my vehicle up to where we'd left AlAndaluz's vehicle, then went our separate ways.
What a fun hike, very enjoyable, with great historic value. The cache hunt was enjoyable too. Having been raised in Hurricane, I'd always wanted to hike along the canal back when it still carried water, but never did. I'm grateful for the work that the Americorps. volunteers, and the many others involved too, to open up this historic pioneer creation to the public. And thank you, TSlack2000 and Cach-U-Nuts, for a great cache find and for another motivating factor to hike this trail.
St. George, Utah