06 June 2019

2019's Second Summer Trip - Capitol Reef National Park

School let out on Thursday, and we went on a trip immediately. Ike got home about 11, and then Eric got home about 12:10. We exited the garage at 12:20, which is one of the most on-time departures in our history of road tripping.

We drove straight to our campsite just outside of Capitol Reef National Park. (Our original plan was to go to Bryce Canyon on Thursday, then drive to Capitol Reef on Friday afternoon, but it's still freezing in Bryce Canyon, and many trails are still closed, so we opted to spend the whole time in Capitol Reef.) We rarely camp at reserved sites, and we always cross our fingers that we'll find a good place. We got a real winner this time. We set up our tent as thunder and lightning (but no rain) raged overhead. We had experienced sleet and hail as we came over a pass into the area of Capitol Reef and were a little nervous about what the weather would hold for us. We crossed our fingers that our tent wouldn't get flooded while we headed over to the park. (And it worked!)

After a brief visit to the visitors' center, we went on an easy hike in the Grand Wash. It's through a slot canyon along a streambed and is nice, flat, and easy. There was still a lot of whining, despite the ease of the trail. The boys took turns running ahead of us, hiding in the brush, and then jumping out to "ambush" the family.

I took another selfie where I looked better, but I loved Trixie behind me being a ham in this one, so enjoy it.

The rocks throughout the park have holes in them, of varying sizes. The kids loved the chance to climb into holes that were big enough and accessible.

On Friday we drove along the scenic drive and then hiked Capitol Gorge to The Tanks. They are these little ponds of water trapped up in the canyon. This hike starts really flat, through a canyon on a streambed, similar to the prior day's hike. There was SO MUCH WHINING while we did that section. Then, there was climbing over rough terrain, sometimes without incredibly clear trail markers. We really had to keep our eyes peeled for the cairns (stacked rocks) to show us which way to go.

The tanks were pretty cool, mostly because they had such huge tadpoles.

Ike caught a few and even got some for his siblings to hold. Trixie was a little bit in love with hers and even pet it a few times before tossing it back in the pond.

Ike managed to fall into one of the tanks, which was very reminiscent of the time he fell in a pond in 2013 when we were hiking in Zion National Park. I will always remember, from the picture on the left, "I wet. A mess." This time we took his clothes off, wrung them out, and then had him put them back on. The trail wasn't crowded at all, so we could get away with our 8-year-old being partly naked on this trail

The mounds of rock behind us supposedly look like the domes at the tops of capitol buildings, which is where part of the name of Capitol Reef comes from.

After our hike we stopped for lunch. This was the only picture I really got of my girls in their matching t-shirts. At some of our previous national park visits, there have been Asians amazed with our blond children, and they ask us (generally with their hands) if they can take pictures of our kids. This park had virtually no Asians, but some Spaniards did circle our picnic table taking multiple pictures of our family. I should have asked them what their deal was. Were they impressed by the blondies? Or by the sheer quantity of children? Really, I should have said, in Spanish, "If you think this is a lot of kids, you should see my husband's brothers' families." But mostly I was dealing with, "Who wants mustard? Who wants Miracle Whip? Who needs an apple?"

We've been to about one gazillion national parks, but this is the first time we did the Junior Park Ranger program. Felix finished his first.

After that (plus a class about geology) we went to Hickman Bridge. It's only .9 miles each way, but it's fairly steep. I was taking Trixie to the bathroom at the beginning, and I came back to the van to learn that Eric sent Ike along the trail with Felicia. We didn't figure they'd get too far without us, especially because Felicia is so little (not yet 2). Eric needed to use the bathroom, but I headed up the trail with Felix and Trixie. I even carried Felix part of the way because the Ergo has a weight limit of 45 pounds.

Because the boys were wearing matching shirts, it was easy for other hikers to recognize that they belonged together, even though they were split up. People coming down the hill kept telling me my other two were doing a great job.

I was amazed at how far they got without grownups! Once we all were united again, I put Felicia in the Ergo again. Around this time Trixie started really struggling. Meanwhile, Ike was taking off and getting too far ahead. Eric offered to hold Trixie's hand, and she refused. A man passed us, and Eric said, "Do you want to hold his hand?" And Trixie very strongly refused. That man laughed and passed us right up. I then went to catch up with Ike and tell him to slow down. That same man was just in front of him, and I told Ike, "You are not allowed to pass that man." I then slowed down to hike with the rest of my family and heard Eric again entreating Trixie to hold his hand. Then, jokingly say, "Well, do you want to hold her hand?" referring to some perfect stranger hiking nearby. And that was an affirmative answer.

It turns out the man whose hand Trixie refused to hold was this lady's husband. We had a great chat with the couple. (He's Australian, and she's Canadian, and they're taking the year off from their regular lives to travel.)

Hickman Bridge itself was totally worth the hike.

Felicia was so tired that we moved her from Eric's hiking backpack to mine, and she slept through the whole thing. And we foolishly forgot that the Ergo (my preferred carrier) has a thing to cover up heads, so we just used the tied bandana to keep the sun off her little face.

This was the last we saw of Ike on this hike, because he took the "stay behind that man" very literally and followed him down the trail. We found him waiting for us at the bottom.

The Kohab Canyon hike is a little over 3 miles one way. Our initial plan was to hike it from one side to the other, then have me (or Eric) run back to the van, and then drive around and pick up the family. But in the actual canyon, we decided we'd seen what we needed to see, especially with the end of the hiking coming so close to Hickman Bridge, which we'd just done the day before. When the trail began descending toward the end, we turned around and hiked out the same place we'd come in. That ended up being the best option anyway, because it was close to the ice cream place.

I would have loved to have done Cassidy Arch, but it's over 4 miles, and we knew it would be too hard for the kiddos. One day we'll do it.

Our camp site was pretty awesome. We camped on BLM land a few miles outside of the park. We found a big enough flat spot for our tent, and the kids loved climbing the hills around our site (and also sliding down the hills on their bums. So we've got some horrible red stains on a few pairs of pants.)

Saturday was our last day. We prepped the kids on Friday night telling them we would be doing our longest hike the next day. It started very close to a little gift shop in the park, and we told the kids if they could be good on the hike, we'd buy them ice cream after the hike. That was some serious motivation for them.

Kohab Canyon starts off as a steep hike up several switchbacks. We started at 8 AM, so the switchbacks were still in the shade.

Trixie loved the switchbacks. Anything uphill, and especially up rocks, was super fun for her.

Kohab Canyon itself is gorgeous! Along the way there were lots of little slot canyons to explore/cram ourselves into.

And when it was done, we had our ice cream.

Then back to the visitors' center for the other two kids to earn their Junior Ranger badges.

On our way out, we hiked two small trails, Goosenecks and Sunset. Felicia actually did most of these two hikes on her own.

And then somehow I got tricked into carrying Trixie on the way down from the last hike.

It was a great weekend. I can't wait to go back to Capitol Reef park! The lack of crowds was practically magical. We'd love to go back and explore some other areas of the park (besides just the Fruita district), and we'd love to go when some of the fruit is in season so we can pick some!