Day 6 - Lower Calf Creek Trail
Inside the Canyon
We found this hike in one of our guide books after we realized we didn't want to drive over an hour to the previously selected trailhead. This hike was only about 30 minutes from the campsite so it was perfect. The trailhead is at a campground that was full of what Scouts or some other boys club. Next to the pay station was a sandwich board full of yellow warning notes about the heat and expectations for this hike, apparently guide books have been under-selling the intensity. The best warning described the trail as "a sand box in an oven". Glad we started early.
Here in Calf Creek Canyon, the layers are formed by Navajo sandstone, another layer in the geologic makeup that is the gorgeous southwest.
Around the Corner
The hike takes up you up the canyon then around at an outcropping in the canyon wall to the final stretch of the hike, after this point it gets more sandy. Glad we started early. In the first photo the butte is on the left and in the second it is on the right.
The Geology of It All
I don't know a lot about the geology, I generally look things up after the fact. But you can't help but appreciate all the planetary history on display for you.
Water in the Desert
This canyon provides water to the valley floor. It has been used by prehistoric cultures and 19th century cultures to cultivate agriculture or livestock (hence the name). But even out of the canyon floor, plant life such as shrubs, juniper and wildflowers thrives.
The canyon displays not only geology but also erosion. Here you can see where the wind and rain have worked into the cracks of the sandstone.
From Wikipedia: Desert varnish forms only on physically stable rock surfaces that are no longer subject to frequent precipitation, fracturing or wind abrasion. The varnish is primarily composed of particles of clay along with iron and manganese oxides. Personally I appreciate how it gives the walls varying vertical pinstripes.
As we get closer to the falls, the presence of regular consistent water (so uncommon in the southwest) becomes more prevalent. The contrast of the greenery and the canyon is awe-some!
And at the end of the canyon we find the falls! It was a welcome respite from the heat in the canyon. The temperature dropped at least 10 degrees, but the humidity was a little higher than normal :-)
The Canyon in the Light
The hike back out was a bit warmer (the warning of "sand box in an oven" wasn't far off, but the canyon in full sunlight is twice as impressive as in early daylight.