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The best things in life are...the unknown?
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The best things in life are...the unknown?

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The best things in life are...the unknown?

Page Type: Trip Report

Location: Utah, United States, North America

Object Title: The best things in life are...the unknown?

Date Climbed/Hiked: Oct 10, 2012

 

Page By: Bob Sihler

Created/Edited: Mar 18, 2014 / May 8, 2014

Object ID: 890459

Hits: 1026 

Page Score: 88.19%  - 26 Votes 

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Morning Glory

Sandstone Butte
Sandstone Butte

On a chilly March afternoon in March 2006, with my 6-month-old son in a backpack (because his name is Jack, we came to call that backpack the "Jackpack," even in later years when we used it to tote our other children about), I set out with my wife on a popular trail in Capitol Reef National Park. Near our turnaround point, I noticed a gully not too far from the trail, and the gully seemed to promise some Class 3 or 4 scrambling access to some unnamed peaks above.  Without having sufficient time left that day to check out the gully, and knowing that my wife wouldn't have appreciated my going off alone and wouldn't want to join me (meaning dragging Jack into something she'd consider dangerous), I made a mental note to return someday and explore that route and whatever lay above it.

That someday finally occurred more than 6 years later, in October 2012.

Starting at dawn after a night spent in the car at a pullout near the trailhead, I headed off into the cool desert morning, which soon turned warm under the sun and an unbroken blue sky. Before long, I was leaving the trail and crossing little-touched ground to reach that gully I'd seen all those years ago.  A thrill like that of a child anticipating the last day of school seized me, for I was embarking upon my favorite thing: wandering the unknown by myself, seeing what there was to see and dealing with whatever it served me.

As I roamed the ridges, drank in the views, discovered interesting rock formations that probably few others, if any, have ever seen, and returned to the trail via a scenic, obscure canyon that turned out to be a pocket of wonder, I remembered, yet again, that in spite of all the named objectives out there, in spite of all the challenges faced and those yet to come, and in spite of all the satisfaction that can come from saying, "Yeah, I've climbed that," the best things in life, or the life of a climber and a mountaineer, are the unknown, the unheralded, the untrodden.

William Wordsworth started a poem with "She dwelt among the untrodden ways." It brings to mind a vision of a rare, quiet beauty among unsung splendor.  For me, "She" is the Muse that sings to me when I am alone in the places no one else sees.

And there I found my Muse, once more, that morning.

Dawn on an Unnamed Dome
Dawn on an Unnamed Dome

What was the trail?  Where was the gully?  Which peak was it?

Not telling.  That would ruin the magic, and it would ruin the purpose, for the purpose of this story is not to call others to this particular peak but to remind and inspire others about their own secret places and the indeterminate value such places hold.  From some of the pictures, you might, if you know Capitol Reef reasonably well, figure out which trail I was on and what general area the peak I climbed is in, but I won't be making it any easier for anyone else to do so.  Again, that would ruin the purpose.  

Now join me for a walk through a dream...

Slickrock Domes
Slickrock Domes

Slickrock Domes and Canyons
Slickrock Domes and Canyons


Sandstone Butte
Sandstone Butte

Slickrock Slopes
Slickrock Slopes

Golden Throne (Left) and Neighbors
Golden Throne (Left) and Neighbors


Golden Throne and Canyon with Pool
Golden Throne and Canyon with Pool-- my return route would take me through that canyon after I found a way to drop into it near its head.

Pool Seen from Above
Pool seen from above-- after I spotted it, I knew I had to find a way down to it, and I did.

As I sought and found a way down into the canyon where the pool was, I came across a small arch that maybe a handful of other people at best have ever seen.

Hidden Arch
Hidden Arch

Hidden Arch
How many others have ever seen this? Any at all?


Finally, I was down at the bottom of the canyon.

In the Hidden Canyon
In the Hidden Canyon

Arch on Slabs
Arch on Slabs

At last, I reached the pool. There was still more to go and more to see, including some waterfall obstacles to negotiate before getting on easy ground leading me back to the trail, but this was the real treat of the day.

Golden Throne and Pool
Golden Throne and Pool

Pool in Remote Canyon
Pool in Remote Canyon

To each his own, yes. We all climb for different reasons and get different things out of it. Each year here on SummitPost, there are the predictable threads about the predictable peaks and the predictable routes. Many of them are very worthy climbs, among the finest there are. But when I consider mornings like my October 2012 one and the lack of deep satisfaction I get from going the same ways and seeing the same things that so many others do, I appreciate my obscure little patches of paradise all the more.

Images


Comments


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Viewing: 1-4 of 4    

Matt LemkeNice!

Matt Lemke

Voted 10/10

That is a beautiful spot...I was very close to there back in May 2010. I'll keep it a secret though :)
Posted Mar 18, 2014 6:27 pm

Bob SihlerRe: Nice!

Bob Sihler

Hasn't voted

You'd better!
Posted Mar 18, 2014 8:40 pm

David Senesacwelcome to the club Bob

David Senesac

Hasn't voted

...of we with sealed lips.

Looks like your route may have followed parts where two of us roamed 9 years ago:

http://www.summitpost.org/golden-throne-navaho-towers-cliff-edge/452537/c-171316

http://www.davidsenesac.com/images/print_05-L-102.html

http://www.davidsenesac.com/Gallery_B/05-L-96.jpg

A vast amount of that zone has probably never felt any backpacker's boots because no trailheads or trails, and lots of dangerous cliffs. Tops of many formation are guarded from any access by those cliffs. Requires considerable topographic and visual route finding skiils. Would like to go back because as photographers we left ten times the strong material than we had time to set up for when light was reasonable. A lot in Utah canyon country is still off the radar of almost everyone.
Posted May 6, 2014 4:22 pm

Bob SihlerRe: welcome to the club Bob

Bob Sihler

Hasn't voted

Yes, it looks as though we were in the same vicinity; that Golden Throne shot seems to be a bit northwest from where I took mine, but quite similar. I love to just go off exploring the slickrock and canyons of southern Utah.
Posted May 7, 2014 9:41 am

Viewing: 1-4 of 4