Capitol Reef National Park and Visit With Friends

10/01/17 Sunday in Loa, UT

On 9/30/17 (Saturday) we traveled to Loa, but I wasn’t feeling well, so we called asking to get into our room before check in time. We also made a couple short stops at Capitol Reef because our road to Loa went through the park. I’ve simply included those stops in my sharing about Capitol Reef.

Wonder where in the world they came up with that name? I did. The Capitol comes from a dome early travelers saw in this area that reminded them of the US Capitol. We never saw that one, but we did see the Navajo Dome which looks the same except it has an extra cap at the top.

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Navajo Dome

The Reef part comes from the idea that reefs (in oceans) are barriers. The most unique feature and Capitol Reef’s defining geologic feature, is the “Waterpocket Fold”, extending 100 miles from Thousand Lake Mountain to Lake Powell. Briefly, over millions of years various environments created about 10,000 feet of sedimentary rock made of limestone, sandstone, and shale. Around 50-70 million years ago tectonic activity lifted layers on the west over 7,000 feet higher than the other side. Rather than cracking, these layers folded over the fault line. Naturally erosion has sculpted these uplifted rock layers. Thus the vistas we got to admire.

The first thing we came upon was actually a small cabin that was home to a Mormon family (Behunin) with 11 children at home at the time who stayed for a year, then left when the flash floods and thunderstorms, and the flooding Fremont river ruined their crops. This finally drove them to the plateau above, becoming part of the city of Fruita (Froo tah), which remains today as a historical site with the original fruit orchards still bearing fruit. You can buy yummy fruit pies at the store there and even get fruit off the trees.

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Behunin Cabin

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“Twin Rocks”

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“Chimney Rock”

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“The Castle”

Views of erosion’s effects below:

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Scenic views from a couple hikes – Panorama Point and Sunset View

 “Goosenecks” – we hiked to see where the Sulphur Creek carved very tight S curves in the rock.

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After these short treks we arrived at the Visitor Center for the movie and lunch. Were we ever thrilled to run into Nancy and Gary! We’d left messages letting them know we were in the area, but hadn’t heard back. They were camping in the campground right there in the NP and had NO cell phone service, so they’d climbed to a high spot to get their messages, then were at the Visitor Center before heading out on another hike. What an amazing stroke of luck. So we excitedly gathered at their rig and visited while John and I ate our lunch. They told us to be sure to check out the Scenic drive that leads to a gravel/dirt road along Capitol Gorge. They were thinking of leaving early because it was very cold, with snow predicted Monday. They were dry camping.

On our way along the Scenic Drive and Capitol Gorge.

Then we hiked a mile into that Gorge, spotting petroglyphs, the Pioneer Register, and at the end of that trail we climbed up to the “Tanks”, where space was created by nature for rainwater to gather. When it got too rough for me, I climbed back down to the Gorge and John continued to the top, with some examples of the trail. You still don’t really know how steep it was from his photos. I was just SO glad when he appeared, coming down the trail back to the Gorge.

Shots from John’s climb to the “Tanks”

I’m typing this blog on Monday. We slept in and are taking the day off. We’ve been SO active since we left Cathy & Jim’s that it’s time for a break. Another factor: it’s snowing!

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About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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