December 2, 2022
It’s been a wonderful post-holiday week. I learned that I do indeed still have asthma when I tried to keep up with our friend and Yonder manager Curtis on a hike to a cool secret house in a cliff. I survived just fine, but I sounded like an old lady with emphysema for a while. The secret house in the rock is a place nearby that only locals are allowed to know about. The story is that at an unknown time, Native Americans in the area paid some folks in town to help them haul some materials up this cliff and built a small shelter. No one appears to live in it now that a small group of locals visit the place and do small tasks to maintain it. We decided that Curtis should continue to improve it and then name it The Hobbit Hovel. It’s the coolest fort I’ve seen, aside from some of the shelters that we saw at Uranium Springs.
It was a weekend for adventures as we went on one we have been curious about for a while with our neighbors who left a couple of days later. We followed the Hole in the Rock road expedition which took a whole day to complete. Back in December of 1879 a group of families were called upon by their church leader to settle a new area in southeastern Utah. They loaded up their wagons with supplies in Escalante and prepared for the six-week journey to Bluff, UT. The journey ended up taking six months with many challenges and obstacles along the way. They traveled down Hole in The Rock road for 55 miles and then crossed the Colorado River and then east along the San Juan River. We have previously read articles and watched documentaries about this journey. It’s a cool story and I suggest this video if you’re interested. The road is mostly passable in 2 wheel drive, but for the last perhaps ten miles this road is rough. Not a problem at all in the truck, but it was slow going which is why it was an all day event.
We packed a bunch of snacks and planned to stop for a short hike along the way at Dance Hall Rock. Our neighbor Rachel seems to be like a kid at a playground on outdoor hikes. As soon as she saw the Dance Hall she couldn’t resist hiking up to the top of the amphitheater. She wanted to see if she could drop down to this top ledge to look for artifacts. When she got up there though, she found that there was about a 20 foot pit in the ledge and decided it was not a good day to die. If you look closely to the left of middle you can see tiny Rachel on top of the dome.
We hiked around for a bit and found small amphitheater behind the main one, interesting rock formations, and a baby slot canyon obviously made for rodents so they can have their fun as well. If any of you follow in our footsteps, this is also the last stop with an outhouse before you get to the Hole in the Rock.
These early pioneers kicked up their heels at this amphitheater. They took shelter here for a while to regroup and wait for other families on their way to join them. They brought up morale with songs and dancing here. We ran around like kids and appreciated that we had a comfortable and warm truck to ride in. Rachel and Stan have been good neighbors. They hardly ever made a peep we could hear despite the fact that we ended up parked very close to each other. We enjoyed spending the day with them and hope to see them again one day in our respective travels. I did get away from doing interviews with my co-workers here, but I still enjoy collecting all of their stories and making new friends with everyone who crosses our path for our awhile. We wish them all the best in their magic school bus camper.
The views of the Colorado River at the end of the road are really beautiful. It made me want to get a boat to do a journey through the Lake Powell region. The early pioneers chose this route as the alternatives had mountains they would be unable to cross with wagons or sand that was too deep to pull wagons through. This seemed like the quickest and easiest route. There was already a crack in the cliff here so their tasks at this point in the journey were to widen the crack to fit the wagons with blasting powder, make a road down the the river, and cross the river. They had a crew at the river working on building a ferry for their crossing while others worked on making the hole and building a road. The road just consisted of posts being shoved into the rock and covered with brush and gravel. It was very steep and rocky. They had to lock the wagon wheels and have 10-20 men behind the wagons as they descended one at a time holding onto them with all their strength to keep it from free falling with their animals down the steep cliffside. The descent is about 1200 ft in just under a mile. There is lots of bouldering involved (climbing/scrambling). Rachel was of course fearless and set off to do it alone. The rest of us hiked around up top or did just a short bit of the descent to look for scrapes from wagon wheels in the sandstone that we had read about.
If you came to this spot with horses, a wagon, family, and all your worldly possessions, would you continue?
Luke and I decided that an invention I have talked about for years now (mostly as a joke) might be worth creating. We ordered the supplies we would need, began discussing marketing strategy, and selling platforms. When the supplies arrive, we will begin research and development of our wonderful new invention!
We are very lucky for the connections we have made here and for Luke’s fine skills. As a result of these things we have moved into a beautiful and spacious apartment for the next couple of months. Being inside the RV was getting to feel a bit cramped and dusty. As soon as we moved into the new place, I started breathing better which is awesome as my asthma has been bothering me for about a week now. I’m also happy that there’s a dishwasher, room to dance in any room of the place, room for the dogs to move around more, and a double shower head. We haven’t lived in luxury like this for a long time now.
I went back to the camper to retrieve some things and saw that mice took up residence right away. They even chewed my favorite spatula. The nerve of these depraved beasts. I think one day very soon I will need to get under the RV with a caulk gun to see if I can seal it up so tight that they never get in again. If you have mouse prevention tips for me, drop them in the comments. I think they are disgusting and I really don’t want the plague.
Jennifer MacNeil is currently traveling the US with her husband and two dogs. She loves to have adventures, explore, meet fascinating people, and see amazing places. She strives to learn every day and spread kindness to others. She documents her journey through her photography and blog to share with others.