Nature at work. Rain, thunder, lightning and hail … good morning, another day on the road begins! I was in no rush to start my day in that weather, so I read my book, ate breakfast and organized things in the van since I was leaving Devils Canyon and eventually off to Monument Valley. I checked weather reports, sunshine was south of me, so off I went.
One can enter Bears Ears National Monument from many different entrances. Beautiful cottonwood trees were turning colors as I drove a paved, then gravel road into the South Cottonwood area. I decided not to make my coffee and tea here since I was unsure of the deer hunting season. A posted sign alerted me to the fact that deer hunters have a permitted limit, but no dates were posted.
Butler Wash Interpretive Trail was the perfect place to make my coffee and tea, then to hike the trail. The short hike was on slick rock, reminding me of fun days mountain biking on it in Moab years ago with my partner. The trail led to an overlook where across the canyon one can see ruins. I was surprised to see people at one area of the ruins! I discover in conversation with a local, on the trail too, that the individuals took an old trail.
This new trail allows visitors to see the ruins at a distance. I also discussed my thought of driving the 20 mile dirt Butler Wash road. After hearing details of the road, I decided a jeep would be better especially after the recent rain and the fact that many people do not travel it. No problem. Another stop, Mule Canyon was a very short walk to its ruin. An opportunity again to see the double-walled structures.
The other day after driving the Valley of the Gods 17 mile dirt road, a left turn took me on the Moki Dugway. It is gravel, steep, very winding road. It is the only way off Cedar Mesa if you are traveling south through Bears Ears. If you were not here and driving south, you would have been driving the main highway through Bluff.
On this day though, I had time to drive the 5 mile unpaved road to Muley’s Point. It would have been best at sunset, but 2- 3pm was what it would be as I still had miles to go to Monument Valley. The first 4 miles of dirt road was okay with some washboard. The last mile was rough with rocks and unevenness; slow and steady, I arrived at the point!
Oh my gosh! I loved it and was with only one man at the point. I walked a huge circle around him so as not to disturb his wilderness experience. One looks out to the horizon seeing Monument Valley way off in the distance. Look down to see the land at the bottom of the Moki Dugway road. I walked the slick rock. Sat on the slick rock. Meditated while here. And left before anyone else arrived. A couple of other vehicles were headed toward me when I was at least a half mile away from the point. Perfect timing!
While driving down the Moki Dugway, now my second time, I had a greater appreciation for what I was seeing. Off in the distance I could see Muley’s Point, where I had just come from. Wow, glad I took the time to drive the 5 miles.
Monument Valley campground was full. The woman at the desk remembered me. She thought I was here just a month ago, yet it was more like 3 – 4 months ago. She told me she is full-blooded Navajo. The man, also full-blooded Navajo, who guides the horse tours told me numerous stories. My campground neighbors are 3 guys on motorcycles touring Utah for 9 days. One is from Texas, the other two from Colorado. On the other side of me is a young couple from Switzerland with 2 young girls about 2 and 4 years old. I helped them pitch their huge Walmart tent and fly. Even with the wind we had it up amazingly fast!
If you are in Utah and love the outdoors, southeast Utah is different from Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce, Zion … all beautiful too, so do visit them sometime. Skip Salt Lake City unless you want to start your family history/genealogy. At the temple, they are helpful with that. Also know, Southeast Utah does not have numerous places to eat and stay; plan your visit and enjoy.
If I had a 4 wheel drive vehicle, such as a Jeep, I would have been driving more remote areas. But if you do, let others know where you are. No services are available, such as cell service. Bring plenty of water and food. Know what you are capable of handling in the wilderness. Notify your contact person of where you will be. Also notify the person when you are out of the remote area so they do not worry and search for you. Nature dictates how your day will be; stay present; know how to live and love it!