We left off with Dan ranting about other people’s kids, so it seemed apt that from Arches we headed to Salt Lake City to pick our first guests of the trip, my sister, brother-in-law, and adorable nephew Fletcher (14 months old). The request to bring a small amount of personal gear was met without complaint by Alison and Steve but it turns out it’s nearly impossible to do that with a baby, mainly because babies require special seats, one for the car and one so they can be pushed along the sidewalks, not having kids we didn’t realise how big a car seat and a stroller were. I got sit with my knees in the dashboard for the next week to accommodate the car seat, it’s a good thing Fletcher is so darn cute.
Anyway we picked them up from the airport and then immediately jumped on the tram into Salt Lake, there I learnt everyone wants to talk to you when you have a baby. It’s weird. We then went on a pub crawl, don’t worry we didn’t let the baby drink. The plan was to visit 3 breweries but didn’t realise one was not in walking distance so settled for two and a walk around Salt Lake, it’s a pretty city with a lot of churches. Jet lag seemed to be catching up with the new arrivals so back to camp. For the first time on this trip someone else slept in the Hulk and Dan and I settled into our tiny two-man tent, which we love when backpacking but it’s a little different when you are pitched on a small piece of grass between RV’s.
Next day we headed for Capitol Reef National Park,* it was a beautiful drive accented by the extra oohs and aahs from the back seat, it’s fun getting show people what it is we do everyday. Capitol Reef is huge park that can be easy or hard to visit, went with easy option and spent 2 nights in the park campsite. The highlight of our visit was climbing up to Cassidy’s Arch a 3 mile round trip with 950 ft of climb. It was a pleasant hike not too technical or steep, my sister did it with Fletcher slung to her.
That kid is a sweater too and it was hot, he actually slept most if the way up and only got upset at the top when we wouldn’t let him run around (he doesn’t understand ledges yet). Once he was strapped back on and we were on he move back down he fell back to sleep. He might need to revisit Utah one day.
Next up was Bryce Canyon. It was so hot the day we arrived, we managed to find a nice campsite with some shade and then we decided to go separate ways for a few hours. Dan and I hiked down to the Queens Garden.
Bryce is visually spectacular, the hiking can be easy by staying along the rim of the canyon or more challenging by going down and in the canyon. I would recommend going in.
That night was our first bit of rain, which really sucks with 2 adults let alone 4 and a baby. So it was early to bed because that was where it was dry. We woke to more rain and thunderstorm warnings. Ugh, what were we going to do? Thankfully it let up enough in the morning that we headed out on a hike along the rim with a plan of going into the canyon and come back across the canyon floor, but by the time we reached the far end Bryce Point it was pouring. We decided not to hike into the canyon since we knew we had river crossings to do and flash flooding was possible, I only hoped the Alison and a Steve were ok because they had decided to hike down to Queens Garden and back up the Navajo trail. Thankfully they were fine and we all made it back to camp in one piece where it poured and poured and the temperature plummeted. Thankfully the rain eased up in the afternoon but was so cold we had to have a fire! Alison had to borrow a sweat top because she had packed assuming it was going to be hot**and Fletcher had to wear socks on his hands because we don’t have gloves that would fit him.
Next day we moved on the Zion National Park and back to the hot weather. It was another stunning drive as we entered the park from the east entrance and got to go through a long tunnel and down some jaw dropping switchbacks. This time we stayed outside the park and utilized the shuttle system. Dan really wanted to hike the Narrows and we both liked the sound of the challenging Angels Landing. However the Angels Landing is a pretty tough hike and not suitable if you are wearing a baby so again we went separate ways.
Angels Landing is 5 mile hike with an elevation change of 1488ft, the most challenging part is the final half mile where you are on exposed rock face and there are chains to help you. It was a fantastic hike, very beautiful and I saw a California Condor***
Next we walked the Narrows, which is really just hiking in the Virgin River, but through a tall slot canyon. It’s very cool, but busy and I would recommend wearing shoes and taking a hiking stick, you will make much quicker progress. Because of the rain the water was rushing faster than usual and it was a murky brown, usually it’s clear, making it hard to know where to step. We hiked in about 2 miles, had a picnic lunch on some rocks then headed back. We met Alison and Steve on the way back and again I was so impressed to watch my little sister walking along a fast flowing river with her kid strapped to her. They decided to turn back with us and we went back to the local pub to cool off with a pint (or two).
Our final destination was Las Vegas, where would part from Alison and Steve and meet up with Dan’s parents. We had a blast with my sister and her family and we hope that they had fun too, I know we pushed it with the lack of showers and the tiny living space but you guys rose to the challenge. And hey Fletcher never fell out of bed (Dan’s fear) or out of the back of the truck (my fear) so that was a big win for us.
*after a visit to the sketchiest Walmart ever and then fuelling up at a 7-11 I was positive was going to held up while I was in there paying.
**which was a fair assumption seeing it was mid August in Southern Utah.
***Dan missed it because he has selective hearing when it comes to me.