"The wilderness and the idea of wilderness is one of the permanent homes of the human spirit." - Joseph Wood Krutch Writer, critic and naturalist
Our Coyote Gulch hike was an incredible experience, exposing us to vast sand dunes, a winding streambed, waterfalls and an enormous shelter arch. The hike was more strenuous than we anticipated, mainly due to the steep incline of our return hike up a massive sand dune (total elevation gain of approximately 1,500 feet).
NIKON D800E,f/18 @ 17 mm, 1/60, ISO 200
Our movement through Coyote Gulch was also slow, as we traversed a number of massive boulders, strewn logs and water pools. Waterfalls and dry falls also required us to ascend to the upper ridgeways. Despite an early morning start, we were always aware of the time and the early sundown in February. We concluded that it would be best to be well out of gulch area before nightfall, even though we were equipped with headlamps and rations.
My adventurous son-in-law, Todd Severson, did a terrific job of mapping out the hike, considering a number of options for safe (meaning “non-technical” for this photographer’s sake) entry in Coyote Gulch. Ultimately, we opted to enter the Coyote Gulch via the Crack-in-the-Wall, a narrow slit rock parallel to the cliff wall. The name of this entry point was interesting enough, not to mention the extremely tight passageway (21 inches wide) and trailhead access by aptly named Hole-in-the-Rock road (leading to Forty Mile Ridge Road).
NIKON D800E,f/16 @ 20 mm, 1/60, ISO 640
A handheld GPS and Google Earth maps helped us navigate the plateau of slick rock and drifting sand, leading us directly to the Crack-in-the-Wall formation. Once we cleared this passageway, we found ourselves on a steep sand dune with a remarkable bird’s eye view of enormous rock monoliths, Coyote Gulch and the Escalante River. Hiking down the dunes, we encountered another party of two overnight hikers – the first people we had seen since entering the park the day before.
NIKON D800E,f/16 @ 30 mm, 1/500, ISO 400
Continuing our descent on the dunes, we were thrilled to see the spectacular Steven’s Arch. With an opening of some 220 feet across and varnished rock walls, this formation is truly a sight to behold. Escalante is home to other arches, including Jacob Hamlin Arch in Coyote Gulch and Broken Bow Arch in Willow Gulch.
Despite rather harsh mid-day light, we also managed to capture some images of Steven’s Arch and the amazing geology of Coyote Gulch.
We returned to our SUV sore and tired, with sand in our eyes and ears. That said, it was all so “worth it” and we’re talking about a return trip to this amazing stretch of the Grand Stair Case, Escalante, Utah.
<<< Video of Todd at Crack In the Wall
Related postings: Grand Staircase – Escalante Part 1: Trip Itinerary, Grand Staircase - Escalante Part 2: Zebra Canyon and Red Breaks, White Pockets at Paria Canyon – Vermilion Cliffs, Glen Canyon Recreation Area (Alstrom Point at Lake Powell), Arizona-Utah Border and Utah Landscape Photography.
Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer
Landscape photography techniques, photo expedition travel planning and hiking tips.