We spent our last morning in Park City at my parent’s house enjoying breakfast and finishing last minute items that would be difficult to complete on the road. Our “to-do list” had dwindled down to a few last items from our once Goliath sized multiple page list when we started this massive undertaking. Unfortunately, as many of you know, a “to-do list” is like the grass in the backyard; the more you cut it down the better it looks but if you miss a cutting it tends to get out of control. A constant battle but it seems Rachelle and I have the list a bit under control, for the time being. As we leave my parents we take the scenic route through Midway, opposed to the strip mall feel Heber City is quickly adopting. For me the drive through Midway in route to Provo Canyon has always been a time where my brain feels free. I assimilate this route with the start of a trip or adventure with this one surely being the greatest. For some reason the old farm road from Midway to the mouth of Provo Canyon makes me smile every time I venture on its’ bumpy roads crossing railroad tracks. That small section of asphalt with Deer Creek Reservoir and Mount Timpanogos starring me square in the eyes brings a warmth to my heart and mind. Sadly, it may be sometime before I travel this road again but presently I have my sights set on the pavement ahead.
As we finally pushed off from Park City on that Monday, May 11th it all felt surreal but our excitement grew as we headed south and finally parked the van well into the night in Capitol Reef National Park. The next 10 days were going to be a real test to the van's capabilities and a little payback for all of our hardwork. After a night's rest we woke up to the unseen beauty of Capitol Reef with Escalante National Monument in the close distance. Today, May 12th, we would explore the washboard roads of Escalante, in particular, Burr Trail Rd, and try to locate the lower slot canyon portion of Little Death Hollow. This referral from our friend Will Locklair, seemed an exciting first endeavor, however, after questioning his directions of taking the second left turn opposed to the first left turn we found ourselves completing a 20+ mile off-road loop in the middle of nowhere with no spare tire just for fun. At the end of the bumpy loop road we finally reached the appropriate turn off to quickly realize that our sprinter van was not capable of this particular off-road endeavor. Disappointed with our poor judgement, we decided on a late afternoon scramble up The Gulch for a mountain sunset and in the interim settled on an early morning 6 mile hike to the popular but beautiful 160 foot nearby waterfall, known as Lower Calf Creek Falls. The following days hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls was of no disappointment and we even found the trailhead on the first try. It actually would be truly questionable if we were not able to find this trailhead considering its off of a main road and well-signed. However, with feelings of failure on properly exploring Escalante and knowing that we must return soon to do so, we started our drive northeast towards Fruita, CO to embark on a four day overnight river trip.