Maze and Grand Gulch

On March 22, 2014, David and Chris flew to Utah for a backpacking trip into Grand Gulch and The Maze District of Canyonlands National Park.  The basic plan was to do two nights in Grand Gulch and then four nights in The Maze.  Of course, the weather conspired against us, so The Maze was shortened to two nights.

I had been to both of these areas, but I had never backpacked at either of them, so this was a great trip.  Grand Gulch is amazing because of its high concentration of Anasazi ruins.  We saw lots of ruins, and it is just really interesting to see signs of such an ancient civilization and imagine the type of world they knew.

We parked at the Kane Gulch Ranger Station, got our permits, and then headed down Kane Gulch.  At the confluence with Grand Gulch we just turned left and headed down canyon, enjoying the ruins, the canyon, and the arches.  The nights in the canyon were amazing because it feels like you can sense the ghosts of the Anasazi who once carved out a living in these canyons.

After two nights, we headed up Bullet Canyon to finish out our loop.  David was struggling with the ascent, so Chris stayed with him while I pushed on ahead to the trailhead.  Once at the trailhead, I walked to the highway and quickly caught a ride back to the ranger station.  I then drove back to the trailhead, ate lunch, read, waited, and wondered if David and Chris had gotten lost.  Just when I finally decided I was going to have to go find them, I saw them coming down the trail, no worse for the wear, just moving slowly.

From there, we headed to Ticaboo because the forecast for the next day was looking rough, with some strong winds and storms.  We stayed in the hotel in Ticaboo, cleaned up, packed food, and basically just hid from the weather.

After the weather cleared, we headed out to the Maze from Hite.  I had driven this road once before, so I knew it would be long and slow.  I didn’t have the nerve to drive the road out to the Dollhouse, so we parked at the Golden Stairs trailhead and headed out.

The trail quickly crosses China Neck, which is a narrow precipice overlooking the Maze.  The views are incredible and quickly give you an idea what to expect on this hike.  The trail then descends down to the Maze on a narrow trail with some exposure along the cliff face.  This trail is steep and narrow, and the exposure might not be suitable for some people.

But we made it to the bottom without any problems, and then turned left on the road and headed towards the Dollhouse.  We hiked about 6 miles on the road, eventually reaching Standing Rock.  We made camp in Land of Standing Rocks and just enjoyed the remoteness of The Maze.

The next day we checked the weather report on my satellite communicator and learned that another round of nasty storms was in the forecast for two days later.  This wasn’t good, because I knew the road back out would be virtually impassable if it rained much, and the wind in the forecast would be unpleasant in the open desert.  So we decided to skip hiking down into the canyons of the Maze, and instead just explore around this day, and then make our way back towards the truck. 

So we explored the top of the canyons and then started back down the road.  We camped at the bottom of the trail up the Golden Stairs and enjoyed another night out.

The next day David decided he didn’t want to make the climb up the Golden Stairs, so he hiked out on the road while Chris and I ascended back up to the truck.  Chris and I made it back to the truck without any problems, and then we headed out to find David.  As luck or timing would have it, we found David just a mile or so down the road to the Dollhouse, so I didn’t have to drive anything nasty to find him.  From there, we just made the very long drive back to Salt Lake ahead of the coming storm.

This was a really great trip.  David and Chris are great hiking partners, and Grand Gulch and The Maze are amazing locations.  I definitely want to explore more of The Maze.

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