*Yes. I posted an obnoxious
number of photos for a single trip. Sorry. It really was that
In the waning days of President Obama's second term in office, he sought to cement his legacy with a series of environmental proclamations. Long accused of narcissism by his opponents, Michelle managed to convince her husband to forego his previous plan to have his face added to Mount Rushmore and instead choose something under the radar to put his name on.
So buried somewhere deep in the Bears Ears monument declaration was a short paragraph that renamed this otherwise unknown canyon in southern Utah after the man who said it reminded him of a canyon near his childhood home in rural Kenya. He had hoped to share some of his contempt for Utah with similarly "red" Wyoming, but there aren't any cool canyons there, so he had to just double up on Utah. Plus what president wouldn't want to put his name on a virgin?
A lot of the documentation is lost in some emails that James Comey talked about once, but they haven't been made public. What seems clear is that while DOI was willing to go along with a single under-the-table named designation, the president wanted more than one. A compromise was reached however, allowing for a single designation to be made, but in plural! That's how this canyon got it's name. It's not just the Barack. It's the Baracks. Plural. Because people who take selfies never take just one. (#truefact)
The current administration however, in its obvious desire to undo every single thing that President Obama did, directed the US Board of Geographic Names to change the name. Despite a revolt from @altUSBGN, the official agency relented and added an 'r' to the name, changing the meaning and denying the former president of his proclamation. There's no word yet if the monuments at the entrance to the canyon will be removed and repurposed along 'the wall'.
Despite not making the real news, I read all about this on Alex Jones' website and started my research from there. As it turns out, the president chose an area that's actually pretty cool!
Once the location was on our radar, 9L took the reins in planning and we set forth for an October trip. A couple of people who were planning to join us made up a variety of different mind-numbing excuses until we ended up with a perfect group of four.
After setting up the easy shuttle, we got started Saturday morning with the easy road hike leading downstream. It was the first day of the deer/rifle season so we encountered a bit more traffic than is normal here. Lots of folks that don't look anything like deer were wearing bright orange. Apparently the hunters here are as blind as the voters! (HAZ :stp: smiley never coming back!)
We saw a few bighorn sheep along the river as well as some deer that had four legs and weren't wearing bright orange. Our first day was about 8 miles. The first 5 were along a 4x4 road that was open to OHVs of which we saw a handful. The last three miles was pristine river hiking.
After setting up camp we set off for an afternoon dayhike up Mineral Gulch. The first mile and a half is really cool and features a few typical Utah slot sections along with some more open areas. Farther up the landscape really opens up. We were hoping to get up to a canyon with some petroglyphs past Meadow Creek, but we were running out of daylight so we headed back to camp.
The first night I was in charge of the fictional campfire tale, which you can read as told in the first five paragraphs above.
It was a chilly night and ice caked my shoes in the morning. We took our time waiting for the sun to warm things up a little before heading out on a short day two downstream. The river water was reported to be 43 degrees.
The canyon narrowed and presented us with numerous amazing slots, bright red rock cliffs, and autumn-fired golden cottonwood leaves. We set up camp in under 6 miles and set out to explore more side canyons.
Poverty Wash was an absolute gem! Super narrow but still full of colorful flora, flowing water, dramatic geology, and an amazing little grotto at the end. This is an absolute must for anybody hiking past here!
I went back up the east fork a bit to French Canyon and headed up that one. It was super narrow and absolutely loaded with maple trees that were just past prime and littering the canyon in color. I reached the top in under half a mile, reaching a dead-end amphitheater of bright red sandstone cliffs.
Monday we started early after a warmer night with the goal of getting home at a reasonable hour. The last three miles of the East Fork were even more stunning than the day before! More narrows, better color, higher cliffs. I had hopes of exploring Misery Canyon, but upon arrival we realized that this one would require swimming. It was early in the day and the water was colder than any of us wanted to go full monty on.
There were two guys camping there who had canyoneered down the day before. I had read that we could get upstream about a mile before reaching technical sections. This canyon looked amazing both from the mouth and from above on our climb out. I'd love to come back and explore this more.
Speaking of the climb out, we reached the Powell memorial plaque and the Parunuweap exit route after about two hours and began our ascent. We misjudged the difficulty of the next few miles back to the car. After a few days of cool autumn weather in a deep canyon, the sun and heat on the exposed rock and sand of the higher terrain was a big change of pace. It was still quite pleasant, maybe 75 degrees, but this is not something I would want to do during summer weather! While the views along the way are incredible, it's nearly 5 miles from the river back to the car and half of it is in nature's stairmaster ... sand!
We shuttled back to the start and destroyed some mexican food in Kanab before making the long trip home. This one is on the list to do again! Thanks @volcanoCLMBR
for the intro and @john9L
for planning this one. It was good to hike with @zukerrach
and Jared again. Honorable mention to @squatpuke
for lunch and a side yard to pee in! Foliage
Past prime to completely bare at the east end, prime to just past prime at the west end.