Saturday, 8 March 2014

Fish and Owl Canyons Hike

After gathering a few supplies in Moab, we set out on a three-day hike of Fish and Owl Canyons near Blanding, Utah. Andrew got the idea for this hike from Classic Hikes of North America by Peter Potterfield. The canyons are 500+ feet high and the scenery is spectacular!

The first challenge was getting to the trailhead in our low clearance Toyota Prius over five miles of fairly rough road. At the Ranger Station we were told the road was muddy to start but got better and this was true. Luckily most of the ground was reasonably dry after the rain a few days prior and there weren't too many large dips or bumps/rocks in the roadway.

The loop is about 18 miles (28 km) and could easily be done in two days but we stopped early each day, set up camp and then explored some of the side canyons. Not to mention how many times we stopped to look around to try to spot some of the Anasazi ruins that are supposed to be here. They blend in very well with the surrounding landscape!

Near the start of the hike, heading down into Owl Canyon. Follow the cairns down the wash for about 3 miles to get to the bottom of the canyon. A bit of a scramble sometimes but mostly straightforward.
The first of the ruins we saw.
Looking back up the wash; not quite at the bottom of the canyon yet.
There's apparently lots of animals that frequent the canyon and we were quite excited about seeing these prints (we thought maybe wolf?) once we got off the rock but then finally realized they were dog tracks following his master's foot prints. 
Interesting swirl pattern in a fallen tree.
We saw several areas similar to this where rock had fallen away from the main wall.
Nevill's Arch and crazy shaped spires.
The top layer of soil dries and peels but underneath seems to stay moist.
Finally! We spotted another ruin only because of this nicely square window hole.
Seemed like a small storage area yet the roof inside was black as if they built fires inside.
This "window" was the only opening.
Patterns in the mud. Possibly made from ice or frost??
Patterns in the mud. Not made from ice or frost!
Love the red rock and different shapes.
More reflections.
The tough life of a hiker.
This huge boulder was so interesting!
Obviously it broke off at a weak point and you can see the rocky unstable layer on the bottom . . .
. . . and then many other layers from the side view.
Big rock, big sky.
Lovely pool of water and moss.
To get out of Fish Canyon there was a very steep 600 ft hike (took about 1/2 hour).
This is the last 15 feet that required some hands on scrambling and jamming your feet in the crack. 
Back at the top of the canyon. Great views!
The happy couple! :-)

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