October 6, 2022
In the last blog I talked mostly about how wonderful it is to visit your old hometown and see all of your loved ones. Well it also feels wonderful to return to my home, husband, and dogs. I returned to busy season at the campground. Yonder has hired Luke to shoot some reels for them so we started work on this by spending a morning shooting scenes at the lodge, in the drive-in, and the outdoor showers. Luke was able to get some good footage, but not everything he wanted as there were too many people milling about. It will be a work in progress as he also wants to compile some footage of nearby hikes and iconic scenery.
I spent a lot of the past week catching up on chores and working, which really wasn’t bad at all since I think that working here is delightful. Almost all of the guests here are happy and thankful so interacting with them each day is actually a joyful experience. We learned that next year will bring raises for those of us who come back which is a bonus. Oh Yonder, what a wonderful place you have been.
Now that I’m back I’ve got to get thinking about my winter plans. I stopped at a local Inn that stays open during the winter as they had a sign up for a bit that they were looking for front desk help during that season. I have not heard from them yet so we will see. I also still need to do my training for the Escalante Partners to be a trail ambassador. There are also adventures to be had now that the weather is perfect for outdoor activities. It has been in the 70’s most days which is lovely. Luke and I have a whole list of places we want to explore and day trips to do so I’m sure we will not get too bored here ever. In between it all I am slowly editing wedding photos for my brother Kristopher’s wedding. Some photography is fun and artistic for me, but wedding photos is just work. I love my brother so it’s a labor of love, but I took a ton of photos and want to give him as many as I can so that takes time. This type of work is not fun to do for hours on end so I do a chunk at a time. I hope he’s not discouraged that he doesn’t have them right away. I send him one every so often so he can have previews at least.
On my days off we did some fun exploring this week. We met our friends Leah and Mollie on Boulder mountain to do some leaf peeping and foraging. We spent a couple of hours hiking and mushroom hunting on the chilly mountain. We had lots of laughs and enjoyed being out in the mountain air. While we were driving from one spot to another a giant red tailed hawk swooped right in front of us and took a poop. It came very close to ramming the windshield and there was no way for me to capture a photo quickly enough, but it was cool to see. We also saw a cowboy herding cattle on down the mountain. I had assumed they had their own little cow path, but nope, they took the road along with us. Luke captured a video and posted it on Instagram. He also got a great drone shot of the autumn leaves while I shot a few landscapes. Most of all I enjoyed spending time getting to know new friends.
The yellow leaves on the aspen trees were especially vibrant, especially contrasted against the bright blue sky. Aspens grow at high altitudes or in cold weather climates. The tend to grow in large colonies by a single seedling and spread by roots. An aspen can grow up to 130 feet from its parent tree. These roots systems go on living long after a tree has died continually sending up new trees. The oldest living known colony of aspens is called Pando and is actually in South Central Utah and is estimated to be about 80,000 years old. It is quite possible that the aspens we see here are part of the Pando colony…how neat is that?! Pando is the biggest living organism on the planet. Just ponder that for a moment. These trees even survive forest fire as the roots remain safe underground away from the heat of the fire.
The next day was a more thrilling adventure. I went hiking through the Peek-a-boo and Spooky slot canyons in Escalante with my friend Rosalyn. I will admit that we did not do the entire canyons as these canyons were a bit more technical than what either of us are used to or comfortable with. This is what you see once you hike to the canyon and approach the entrance to Peek-a-boo.
The entrance to the canyon had this giant pool of water in it and about a four foot high shelf you need to ascend and we weren’t confident we could do that and also didn’t want to be covered in this smelly muddy puddle just as we were getting started so we followed another couple who was hiking over and around to look for another point of entry to the canyon. We did find a spot that we were able to scramble down and did most of Peek-a-boo canyon. There was a piece we skipped near the entrance as it looked very deep and narrow. We could hear people down there that clearly had the right gear for it as we had seen them at the entrance putting on elbow and kneepads. They were grunting and complaining about losing a shoe in the mud. We figured we would play it safe and avoid getting stuck in that part in case it was too steep or slick for us to climb back out without a rope. We did still encounter a good amount of mud and puddles and we still felt that we were challenging ourselves. Most of the hike we were successful at avoiding the worst of the mud, but I did slip into it a couple of times.
Rosalyn is a great hiking buddy. She’s nice to talk to and seems to be at same physical endurance level as me so I didn’t feel like I was making her miss out on anything by choosing to avoid certain parts of the canyons. She also loves stopping to admire the beautiful scenery and take photos so she doesn’t mind when I do so.
On the way out we checked out the Dry Fork Narrows canyon which is in the same area and looks like a lovely and much easier hike. I will definitely come back for this one, possibly with Luke and the drone or at least the 360 camera. We also had a near miss with our first rattlesnake as we accidentally veered off the trail from time to time. It looked like a young one and gave a rattle and a hiss when we accidentally stepped too close to it.
Our route was very circuitous with us going in and out of the canyon, heading one way and then turning around and going the other way. We were out there all day and had fun though. I didn’t bring a real camera as I wasn’t sure if we would end up in spaces that were tight and scratchy or filled with water so all I have so far to show you from this area comes from my iphone camera. Stay tuned though, we will probably go back with more equipment now that I have some knowledge of the terrain and area.
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.