August 29, 2011

Coyote Gulch

This is the first of many upcoming posts of my travels throughout the world. This week I will be talking about my recent trip to Coyote Gulch. Despite all warnings we ventured into gulch during flash flooding season where we encountered various obstacles that made the trip that much more memorable. Coyote Gulch is located in southern Utah near Lake Powell just southwest of Escalante.

Before leaving to go on the hike I have a list of essential camping gear and rules you should remember.

1. Pack light. I can’t stress this enough. But you will most likely be hiking through hot desert for a few hours and it will take a toll on your back if you over pack.

2. Good pair of comfortable hiking shoes. Again nothing heavy but the shoes should have good ankle support and ready to withstand a variety of surfaces. You will be going through sand, rock, trees and water.

3. Food. Some of you who have not tried it or have too been scared to (I know I was) buy some of the freeze-dried foods. One important thing to remember is you cannot make a campfire in the gulch so you will have to rely on the portable stoves to cook your food. The freeze-dried food we had was amazing and only required hot water to cook it. Try the chicken alfredo or the sun dried tomato with chicken pasta. They taste EXACTLY like the real thing plus they are light and take up no room in your pack. 

4. Water, Water Water. I cannot stress this enough. If you are entering the gulch from Hurricane Wash you will need enough water to last approximately 6 miles. Bring water bottles and/or a CamelBak. You can also pick up a few water-filtering tablets but these should only be used in emergency situations. You will need a water filter. There are so many out there that will work for this situation. My recommendation (if you have the cash) is the LifeSaver bottle. These bottles range from $150-$200 but they have the best filters your money can buy. The inventor Michael Prichard has found a way to filter the most harmful bacteria and diseases known to man. DO NOT DRINK UNFILTERED WATER FROM THE GULCH. Giardia lamblia or “Gardia” as it’s typically known by, is a parasite commonly found in the water here. If you get Gardia you will not be in for a fun time.  It will not cause death but it will cause a lot of bowel problems along with frequent nausea and headaches. You may know if you have caught it if you start to feel a slight metallic taste in your mouth. Symptoms usually don’t show until 7-10 days after infection. Remember humans can typically survive about 3 weeks without food but only 3 days without water.

5. Sleeping gear. If you are not up for the task of camping cowboy style under the stars, then by all means bring a small lightweight tent. The lighter the tent the better. During my trip we had a tarp and a few blankets to sleep on. While some of the group had trouble sleeping I found a soft spot and got some fairly decent sleep. You can always buy a sleeping pad, which will add a little more comfort, and they are also pretty lightweight. The wilderness will play tricks with your mind so take the necessary precautions to prepare your sleeping area properly to ensure you are well rested and have enough energy the next day. Bring earplugs if you feel it necessary.

6. Here are some small but helpful items that will come in handy
        a. Snake Bite kit (Found at W al-Mart or other camping stores). There are rattlesnakes in the area although we didn’t see any, these kits cost a few dollars and weigh practically nothing.
        b. First aid kit (We had to use some antibiotic ointment and gauze during our trip. Pictures below)
        c. A portable stove. I recommend the MSR Pocket Rocket Stove. This is a great lightweight stove that boils water really quickly. (Note: you will need to buy the fuel separately)
        d. Good knife. Any survivalist or serious camper will let you know that a good knife is essential in the wilderness. Not only will it help you as a defense against the various animals you may encounter, it can come in handy in so many other situations. Do not begin a long enduring hike into the wild without a proper knife. Hopefully you will not need to defend yourself against an animal attack but if you do you will be glad you brought this along.
        e. Lastly, do a lot of research on any area you will be going to. You can never be too knowledgeable when it comes to your safety and well-being.

This is a funny sign we saw on our drive through a town called Loa, Utah. The beef jerky stand was surprisingly sold out of every flavor except jalapeno.

As we continued our drive to the gulch I had to snap a picture of these amazing clouds.

You will see a lot of these amazing valleys that stretch on for miles. This is a great view of Capitol Reef National Park just off the road.

Here is our group picture above the scenic overlook. From left to right: Me, Zachary Creek, Mikayla Timothy, Orchid Behzad, Ashley Creek and Jeff Miller.

Another view of the valley.

Before we began our drive down Hole in the Rock Rd. we stopped in Escalante, Utah for breakfast. I highly recommend stopping at Circle D Eatery. Amazing food and the breakfast service was fast and filling. Just about 48 miles south of Escalante we arrived at the beginning of our trail Hurricane Wash. While there are many other ways of getting into the gulch we chose this trail and I ended up with some amazing photos of the valley.

Less than a mile into the trail you will arrive at a check in/ check out point. Make sure you fill out the form inside the box. This will help the rangers passing through know how many people are going in the gulch and for how many days you will be there. In case search and rescue needs to be sent out, this will give them a good start to finding your party. Make sure to get your permit before going into the gulch and follow these tips they have listed on the sign.

Another sign at the check in point.

Now we begin the hike into the gulch.

We found a shaded area to stop at and drink some water. Make sure to stay hydrated as you walk but be careful not to consume too much water as you will need it later on. Sweating is a natural way of cooling your body off so don't wipe it off because you will continue sweating more which means you will drink more water to make up for the loss.

Jeff is king of the mountain or desert in this case. While we hiked in Jeff carried a lot of weight and helped guide us through the desert sand at a fast pace.

This rock was pretty fun to walk on and had many little signs from previous travelers in the sand. Some people have made arrows and words such as "DRAT" on the trail. Don't get freaked out and think the Blair Witch is after you if you see rocks stacked on top of each other. These are indicators of a trail to help lost travelers find their way.

Trees in the desert! Great place to catch some shade and cool off for a second. Get some water and continue down the trail.

While the trek my seem tedious and hot try to move yourself to higher ground for a bit. The wind will pick up speed and help keep you cool at a rapid pace. Don't forget to take in the scenery for its tremendous beauty. This picture I took has some great dynamic range and really shows that even the most desolate places truly are breathtaking in their own way.

This photo was taken right next to the above. I call this Arches in the Wall. A great benefit of this trail is there the natural cave formations caused by wind erosion. They can be really helpful for cooling off or setting up a camp.

As you get closer to the gulch the rock formations get larger and the plant life becomes more abundant. The clouds were constantly changing and the prevailing winds began bringing in larger cumulonimbus clouds which could only mean rain.

The clouds truly are what make landscape pictures stick out. So many people get caught looking down as they walk the trails that they rarely forget to look up and see the light source that helps give the landscape definition and color.

As we continued on our trail the clouds began darkening and rain began to pour. Lightning was approaching at a fast rate which meant trouble for us all. Although the chances of being struck by lightning is 1 in 700,000 there is still an estimated 2,000 people that are killed by lightning every year in the US. We had Ashley with us who had some previous knowledge on proper techniques to help make us a small, less likely, target for a lightning strike.

  1. First remove all metal from your person. Metal can and most likely will fuse to your body from it being rapidly heated from a lightning strike. 
  2. If you are in a group you want get at least 25 feet away from each other. Lightning can very easily transfer from one person to another. 
  3. Stay away from the rocks around you. If lightning hits the top of the rock formation it will travel down and ground itself through anything touching it. 
  4. Crouch down into a ball and wait for the storm to pass. Lean forward on the balls of your feet. This will make you a smaller target thus less likely to be hit.
  5. Lastly, get into open and low area. If you are at the top of a rock formation you instantly become a lightning rod and drastically increase your chances of being hit. 
You are the most conductive thing around you so if you follow these basic steps you should be able to escape without any burn hairs.

After about 30 minutes the storm had passed us and we continued down the trail. The clouds after the storm were amazing.

One of the last places you want to be during a storm is stuck between the canyons. Hiking through here is really a nice change in environment as you get a lot of shade depending on the time of day.

Just as we came out of the slots we hit another storm. We quickly dropped our gear and waited for it to pass.

This is a really unique mountain we encountered. The natural shapes are pretty amazing.

The last picture before we entered into the gulch.

Here is a few group pictures of the gulch. The long hike through the desert and hot sun suddenly has an abrupt change in environment. This oasis in the desert is the reward to travelers who are persistent enough to keep pushing forward.

We continued our hike through the mud and water when we came to this crack in the rock face.

Some plant life coming through the rock. 

Just to show the scale of the surrounding rocks you can see Orchid in comparison to the mountain. All life's minor problems seem so insignificant when you are surrounded by these huge natural structures.

The black and white version of the above photo really helps accentuate the details of the image. Click the image to zoom in so you can really get the full effect.

Lots of trees in the gulch.

After a few hours of walking we came to our campsite at the Jacob Hamblin Arch. It was quite an amazing view and sleeping out under the stars was incredible. The Milky Way was visible at night along with so many other stars that made it just a jaw dropping experience.

A creek runs down past the arch to allow us to continue on the trail. Had we planned on staying longer we would have traveled much further into the gulch and saw more amazing places. That however will be  saved for another trip.

Our last group photo at the arch before we headed back to the cars.

One of my favorite photos from the trip is this one which I call "The Curve". If you don't venture all the way to Jacob Hamblin Arch by all means go to the The Curve.  This is a spectacle which you will remember for a lifetime.

Out of the gulch and back on the trail.

A small resting spot with a plane passing through in the distant. This was a much needed rest as our bodies were extremely tired from the 16 mile hike into the gulch the day before.

Red rocks fill  this valley and create a nice contrast with the blue skys above.

 One of the most beautiful sites to see... the cars.

Now we venture back home on the road to yet another approaching storm.

We were all exhausted and got quite a lot of sun from that trip. Nonetheless we had a great time and had some great memories.

Orchid took on the wild like a true champion. About halfway into the gulch she and I got some really gnarly blisters from our shoes and had to be bandaged up. Luckily I grabbed some good waterproof bandaging before we left the house and stopped to fix up her foot along with some antibiotic ointment that Ashley provided. She hiked the rest of the way in and out of the gulch alternating between flip flops and bare feet through mud, sand, water and rock.

The drive home gave us a nice prize for taking on nature full force.

Leave your comments below and let me know about your adventures, experiences or even your thoughts on my blog. I am always happy to hear tales from nature enthusiasts and avid adventurers.

- Talyn Sherer

All images shown on this blog are copyright to Talyn Sherer Photography. All images are available for print as well. For a quote please contact me at

1 comment:

  1. Love these!!!! You have amazing talent. I can't wait for you to get home and share your Paris photo's!


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