I drove to Utah on Friday, and realized it was the first time I’d ever driven out of state on my own. I’ve done the drive plenty of times in the passenger seat, but taking the wheel gave me a good taste of what my future travels will do to my backside. It took me 8.5 hours, two restroom breaks, and one gas tank refill. Note to self – don’t let your gas light turn on in the middle of the Mojave, because you will stress out. I was a little concerned I would get tired or bored, but I was geared up with audio books, Pandora stations, snacks, and an appreciation for mountain views on the horizon. I was also long overdue for some quality me-time. There’s something very soothing about turning off the radio, sitting in silence, and feeling the car’s gentle rumble as you cruise down the road.
Saturday we hiked the Kanarraville Falls, which was unsurprisingly beautiful. I really enjoy hikes near water, and/or with lots of trees. Kanarravill Falls has both of these, plus the quintessential Utah red rock. The whole hike is just walking up a many tiered waterfall and its surrounding banks. It is a fantastic Summertime hike because you can wade through the river the entire way if you would like, but there are also many areas that give you the option to climb on (somewhat) dry land nearby. Definitely be prepared to get wet, though. There are spots where you do not have a choice but to walk directly up the river. If you enjoy the constant sound of trickling water, waterfalls, trees and shrubbery, colorful rock formations, and refreshing dips in the water, then Kanarraville Falls is a great hike for you. There are a few places with natural water slides, but the water was very brisk (it was numbing and a bit painful at some points) so we didn’t want to get quite that wet. I would have liked to take better pictures but it was a bit tough to take any without people in the frame. I posted a few more images and a video on my Instagram, if you’d like to check those out, too.
We were blessed with perfect timing and really good weather when we went. The forecast called for high 90s, low 100s, but it didn’t get that warm until we were halfway back. We started the hike around 9AM and were back by 1ish, which was perfect, because it gets really crowded. The hike has gained in popularity over the last few years, to the point that they are considering charging for day use permits (currently there is only a parking fee). Plus, there are two areas that are only passable on slightly sketchy ladders, so those spots get really bottle-necked. The first ladder wasn’t bad, but the second one was broken and rickety when we got to it. Most people turned around at that point. There were only two steps because the rest had broken off, and one was loose. So you had to kind of upward repel using a rope, and step on the nails in the wood, using the rocks for leverage. Once you got to the top, the waterfall under you made the rock a bit difficult to get footing on, so a few people got stuck there. If my dad wasn’t ahead of me to grab my hand I would have fallen.
Once we got past that second “ladder” we saw maybe 7 people the rest of the way. None of the trek after that point was much different from the rest of it, but it was really serene without any people there, and of course still gorgeous. Eventually the river was getting progressively thinner and more overgrown, and looked like it would keep doing so until it ended, so we headed back. Apparently after we had gotten over the sketchy ladder, some guys came by and fixed it up so now it was a full ladder with wood steps and everything. Our timing was great because, even though we had to climb the broken ladder, we were some of the last people to get to do that final stretch in solitude. Lots of people were continuing there, now that it was less dangerous, and with it being later in the day the whole hike was more crowded overall. Plus, like I said it had warmed up from a feel of about 76° to a feel of about 95°. The cold-as-ice water was a bit numbing and uncomfortable on the way up, but refreshing back down.
On Sunday I headed back home around midday because I didn’t want to get in too late and be exhausted Monday morning. I was fortunate again and only hit traffic near Baker. It actually took me just over 7 hours to drive back (a personal record time, I believe). My favorite part of the drive to and from Southern Utah is passing through the River Gorge in Arizona. There is something absolutely breathtaking about winding through those giant, looming mountains. You can see the layers of history in their jagged forms and they look like they could be ancient rock gods. The peaks overlap and vary in height all around the interstate and there are many areas where you can see the sky between their points. On a beautiful clear day like Sunday the bright blue sky and stark white clouds are a very picturesque backdrop for the colorful rock. It’s a good thing the road is so windy there, because you really want to slow down and soak in the view rather than speeding through. These images I found on Google don’t really do it justice – you’ll just have to go check it out yourself!
Maybe it is just that I’ve done the drive so many times, but I feel like the trip from San Diego to St. George (and back) isn’t all that bad, despite usually taking around 8-9 hours. It is broken up into 30 minute to 2 hour chunks the whole way, so when you think about the drive in pieces it doesn’t seem so long. From San Diego you drive around two hours to San Bernardino (the worst part, in my opinion), another hour or so to Barstow, an hour to Baker (be sure to check the temperature on the world’s largest thermometer! It was 116 when I passed through on Sunday ;;-_-), around 45 minutes to Primm and you’re in Nevada! It’s an hour to Las Vegas, an hour or so to Mesquite, and then you head into the Gorge. It’s less than an hour through the Gorge and into Utah, and then you’re practically there!
Now it’s time to gear up for a drastically different trip in just two weeks! I’m getting packed and counting down the days until I am flying out to Ireland to enjoy a chilly Autumn adventure. Talk to you then!