Into the great wide open
Under them skies of blue
Out in the great wide open
A rebel without a clue (Tom Petty)
Carolyn had decided to take June off of work from Southwest Airlines on what they call Emergency Time Off, a way to effectively reduce payroll without laying people off. We had planned on going to Carlsbad, CA for a weekend getaway but due to closures in CA, we had to make some adjustments. So, we started looking in earnest at Southern Utah and booking rooms at Hilton properties located in close proximity to Escalante and Bryce. Lucky for us, we found Kanab, UT with employee rates available and booked it immediately and jumped in our car two days later for an impromptu road trip in some of the most beautiful and fascinating land in all of the USA–Southern Utah.
First stop, Buckskin Gulch off of Route 89. We drove in to the Wire Pass Trailhead and got underway during the early afternoon hours.
It was hot and dry but little to no people would be found on our out and back trip into the gulch. This was a quick 7 or 8 mile hike into the slot canyon that gave us our first real journey into narrow slots that can be quite dangerous if it rains somewhere. There are those who get permits and hike up to 40+ miles one-way. My first sojourn into these canyons gave me a feeling of claustrophobia since the canyons are narrow and once in the canyon, you really don’t have any way out except coming back from where you started or continuing on in a backpacking journey that requires a permit. It is a different type of beauty and you can become overwhelmed looking straight up to see the sides of the canyons and a narrow slice of sky.
When Wire Pass Trail hits Buckskin Gulch, there are some very well defined petroglyphs plus some recent bozo-brained drawings that some fools have marked on the walls. It is so irritating.
Upon our return out the area on a dirt road, we get back on Route 89 and head to Kanab and check in at the Hampton Inn. The hotel industry has been decimated by the COVID 19 pandemic but the Hampton is still open with about 1/3 of the original workforce. No hot breakfast served but it is clean and quiet. The front desk clerk recommends the Peekaboo Canyon Wood Fired Kitchen, a vegan restaurant, that serves pizza and Zion Brewery draft beer. We go for dinner and are not disappointed. They are short staffed due to trouble finding anyone wanting to come back to work that is currently receiving the CARES unemployment. Tough environment. The outside seating is a plus and our “Angel’s Landing” pie is fabulous. (House made olive tapenade, spinach, artichoke, mozzarella and drizzled with balsamic) Our manager gives us a smoking deal on a growler of Zion Brewing beer, (keep the growler) plus two drafts for $15. What a great taste for some tired hikers. We walk back to our hotel ready to take on another road trip in the morning towards the Escalante area.
I decide to stop into the front desk area to thank the front desk clerk for her excellent recommendation and wait for her to check in the guest in front of her. The masked guest turns and says something to the effect of “imagine seeing you here”. Oh my, it is our own family doctor, Dr. James Schouten from Payson, AZ. Here I am holding a half full growler of beer having a conversation with my personal doctor in Kanab. What a small world it can be. Truly an unforgettable end to a great start of our impromptu journey into the great wide open. I have attached a video of Carolyn walking in the canyon for a sense of what is like. Listen close and you will hear a bird and it’s eerie call.
Next travel stop Escalante and it was under the sky so blue.