Visiting Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
"Escalante Sun" 8x10, oil
Trina and I drove out this week to explore the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Designated such by President Clinton in 1996, it covers nearly 3000 square miles and has terrain that is about as varied as you can imagine: high plateaus thick with spruce and blanketed with snow; maze-like box canyons with walls of red rock; low desert with tumbledown hills; meandering creeks and stupendous waterfalls. This translates into several lifetimes of painting.
Of course, we only saw a fraction of the park. To really get a sense of it, you're best off with a horse or, on its few roads, with four-wheel-drive and high clearance. We didn't have a horse, and although our Subaru Outback could have met the challenge of most of the dirt roads, the car does have to get us back to Campobello Island! So, we stayed on the paved roads. It was a beautiful experience. During our one full day (we stayed two nights at a B&B in the village of Escalante), we hiked up Lower Calf Creek and then drove down into Long Canyon.
Lower Calf Creek, a 5.4-mile round trip hike, is probably one of the prettiest hikes I've ever done anywhere. At the end, we were rewarded by a 150-foot waterfall that dives off a cliff into a crystal-clear pool. Because it was a bit of a hike to tote my painting gear, I took just the camera. (I'll post a photo of the falls here.) In Long Canyon, on the Burr Trail road, plenty of signs warn you about falling rock, and sure enough, we had to keep our eyes open to steer around all the debris. We drove all the way down to the Wolverine Pass turnoff (about 19 miles in), and then came back so I could paint near the Gulch Trail trailhead.