Sunday, September 15, 2002
Exploring BLM's Grand Srtaircase-Escalante National Monument
Having spent four days lounging on a houseboat on Lake Powell, the trekkers of Team South were raring to do some serious hiking, so serious, in fact, that they finished their cross-country hike early and today they are back at Calf Creek campground with more options about great hikes and drives as they explore one of the crown jewels of BLM's National Landscape Conservation System.
Among their many choices is the Smoky Mountain Road which bisects the Kaiparowits Plateau and after descending from it, reaches Highway 89 at Big Water. It is far too much of a drive for one day but even a short excursion along this great dirt road will give the team a sense of the isolation, solitude, and great distances that the Plateau offers.
Striking out east from the campground, Highway 12 climbs up a series of switchbacks to a bare-naked sandstone ridge, just wide enough for a two lane highway, with 1,000 foot-deep chasms on either side. The views are fantastic but the driver cannot afford to enjoy them. Turning onto the Burr Trail at Boulder, one can take the Wolverine Loop Road a few miles farther down, to a fantasy land of petrified forest. From here, rewarding cross-country hikes lead to Studhorse Peaks or to Deer Point, highest eminence of the Waterpocket Fold.