There is unfinished business in the Capitol Gorge Wash. After the Golden Throne hike, only five of the original eight opt to hike the wash, and two out of those five turn back early. So the group decides to return the next day, as there are many reasons to revisit the wash.
Prior to 1962 when Highway 24 was constructed, the “wash” beneath Capitol Gorge was the only road through what would later become Capitol Gorge National Park. Diversion dams were built along the road, and one can only imagine the amount of rock clearing required after a rain. This must have been one tough road to navigate through soft sediment, curving canyons, and massive boulders.
The first signs of settlers are seen along the walls on what is called the “Mormon Register,” or the more politically correct version, the “Pioneer Register” which contains signatures carved into the walls of the canyon dating back to the late 1800’s.
About a mile into the canyon is a sign indicating “tanks,” or water pockets two tenths of a mile up. This part of the trail leaves the shade of the canyon behind, and begins a long circuitous route over many steep steps in what feels more like two miles to me, rather than two tenths!
The day prior, Mark has spotted a natural arch that has both a concave and convex side, opposing curves from water flowing over and under the arch. But the lighting was not right for photos on the previous afternoon hike, and only he, Gayle and Bobbie saw it, so Debbie and I want to return. Besides, Mark has decided he needs his photo standing on the arch. But a closer look reveals a steep, slick decent to get onto the arch, and what would potentially be a long fall into a steep stagnant hole below.
Bobbie maintains her cool while Gayle and I shriek “NO! DON’T DO IT!!” until Mark either comes to his senses, or gets tired of the women all yelling at him, and settles for a photo instead.
We continue on down the wash in search of what we have heard to be an old abandoned car. We must cross the barbed wire fence and continue to the point where the canyon opens up, but we finally make it to the car, our designated turn around point. Apparently this was an old sight-seeing vehicle, as the sign painted on the door says “Scenic Attractions entering capitol Reef National Monument.” (The monument received National Park status in 1971.)
There is another side climb past the turn off to the tanks to “secret petroglyphs.” Mark, Bobbie, and Gayle found the secret. Gayle reveals the secret over on her Life’s Little Adventures blog. But for this blog, they will forever remain a secret, as I was just too hot and tired to make the scramble….