The next adventure was in tackling the Notom-Bullfrog Road. Facing my fears. Revisiting the scene of the events over 8 years ago that caused me to experience post-tramatic-stress-disorder whenever I am close to clay roads.
And you know what? The road just didn't seem that bad. I remember a road that was 34 miles of sloshing along, trying desparately to keep the truck on the road and not sliding off and over any gulleys. I remember a monster. It just wasn't as bad as my nightmares had made it!
The switchbacks going up the Burr Trail were a piece of cake without the ice and snow of my previous trip. It was actually beautiful! Not scary!
The weather was threatening, so we decided not to make a whole day of the Muley Twist Canyon trail that we had planned on. We hiked down about 1 mile and a half and then back out. We got snowed on!
We took the ranger's advise and hiked into Surprise Canyon just a little further down the Notom-Bullfrog Road from the Burr Trail cutoff. We met a woman coming out who asked us if we knew what the "surprise" was. She said "It was pretty, but I wasn't surprised". Hmmmm. I thought it was beautiful, and very surprising. Just the fact that the canyon is there at all is a surprise!
We next headed out, back up the Notom-Bullfrog Road, and on to the Cathedral Valley Road in the north-eastern backcountry of the park. We had to cross the river, which was a little scary at first, but really wasn't very deep, maybe about 1 foot, but there was a good rocky bottom to drive smoothly over.
We drove through the desolate Bentonite Hills area and climbed up into the juniper-forested area above Cathedral Valley. After checking out the views, we settled in to the primitive camping area up there. We were the only ones there.
The wind was howling, too much so to have a fire. Todd rigged up a tarp to keep the wind away and also to keep some heat in. We were hoping to use a propane heater we had brought. But we discovered we were out of propane, a result of a malfunctioning stove that leaked propane. So we tried to sleep in the back of the truck to the sound of the wind whipping through the plastic tarp. Not such a good idea after all.
Next day we headed out. We completed the backcountry loop (a total of about 60 miles from where we forded the river), by winding through sage brush fields and various rock formations. Along this road were sights such as the Cathedrals, Gypsum Sink-hole, Temple of the Sun and Moon, and Glass Mountain.
We got home to the first big snowstorm of the year! Our house was adorned with over a foot of snow. Slogging through the snow makes farm chores harder to get done, but it sure makes for a pretty Welcome Home site.