How we Beat the Heat and Saw a Unicorn

The good news is that we made it to Spooky Gulch and Peek-A-Boo Gulch. The previously washed-out road down to the trail for these two slot canyons was relatively breezy for our little car. Spooky lived up to its name; the canyon was so narrow that we had to take off our backpacks and squeeze through sideways for some of it. At first it triggered some claustrophobia within us, but a little bravery carried us through the 500 metres of Spooky. Peek-A-Boo was not as narrow, but very twisty, and there were mud puddles that required us to stem our way through the canyon. Three quarters of the way through we reached puddles that were too big to traverse unscathed, so we had to brave the rest of the canyon in the thick, soupy mud. At the end, we had to stem our way down a slide-like structure into a small lake of mud. I had a blast!

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The bad news is that our next stop, Capitol Reef National Park, was going through a heat wave. It was so hot (our car read 38*C) that we opted not to do anything the first afternoon we were there besides explore the area a bit by car. We found a free campground that wound up being full of small flies and ants; the flies would not leave our faces alone. Desperate for relief of heat and bugs, we spent the rest of the day in our tent discussing our future in this park and watching TV. The bugs subsided when the sun went down, and we spent the night watching the stars. CRNP has one of the best ratings for dark night skies. We were able to see the Milky Way and identified constellations using an app on Tom’s tablet.


The next morning we arrived at the Sheets Gulch hike at 8:30am (it was already 30*C), but were chased out 20 minutes in by flies that kept biting our legs (ouch). We found another hike called Navajo Knobs and managed to complete it. By the time we were done the hike at 2:30, there was almost no shade to hide in and when we got to our car, it was 40*C. We decided we had had enough – we stopped at the Gifford House for some strawberry rhubarb pie (saved for breakfast the next day), ice cream, and cherries picked from the local orchard, and left the heat for American Fork Canyon.

IMG_0586IMG_0572IMG_0560IMG_0554Beating the heat involved some improvising as to what we were going to do for three days, as we had reservations back at the Maple Canyon Campground for two nights. We spent the first day running errands, one day climbing at American Fork Canyon; well-trafficked limestone made for some greasy routes – I heard another climber call it slimestone. I tried an 5.11b that was fun, and I did a greasy 5.9. We also checked out a Saturday morning market in Salt Lake, and another brewery, called Squatters.

Going back to Maple was great. I tried some harder routes than before, ranging between 5.10b and 5.11c, and we went to some new areas that we hadn’t gone to before: Maple Corridor, Matrix Wall, and Box Canyon.

Another reason why we have been staying in the SLC area is because we had tickets to see Death Grips, one of Tom’s favourite bands – and I really like them too. We had booked a room through Airbnb, and when we got to our host’s house, he wasn’t there. Within three hours before the concert we managed to get another booking, get to the house, shower (we really needed one!), take the 40 minute bus ride to the venue, and eat, only to arrive 2 minutes past the start time. One hour later, Death Grips made their appearance on stage. It was amazing!

For those of you who don’t know, Death Grips has a reputation of keeping their fans on their toes. They broke up last year, only to release a new album a few months later and confess that they had not actually broken up. What’s more, they also have a reputation of not showing up at their concerts. Needless to say, we were ecstatic to see this unicorn in the flesh.