Day 2 part 2: BROKEN BOW ARCH AND THE HOLE-IN-THE-ROCK ROAD
So we reached the Devil’s Garden just before 12:30pm, which was some 12 miles from the UT12. The road itself was mostly smooth and wide with some washboards in a few places. Still, they posed no threat to my parents’ high clearance vehicle, which I was proud to say was actually getting decent use off the paved roads (after all, isn’t that’s what SUVs are for? and not to be staying in the confines of city streets?).
The lighting wasn’t that great for photographing at the 2 arches here – Mano Arch and Metate Arch. So we just had our roast beef picnic before continuing further down the road in search of Broken Bow Arch.
It was 1:15pm when we left Devils Garden and 2:30pm when we finally reached the trailhead for the remote Broken Bow Arch. The Hole-in-the-Rock Road went through a few rough patches, but they were totally doable by passenger car. We also surveyed the Hurricane Wash trailhead, which led to Coyote Gulch – site of a future backpack trip I would very much love to do if given the time. Though I wasn’t too sure about the car park being located so close to the wash as it may make the car disappear if a flash flood were to inundate it.
The unsigned spur road that led to the trailhead was definitely a high-clearance vehicle only road. I certainly wouldn’t want to take the passenger car out that way.
We signed into the trailhead register and proceeded to walk down into the wash. At first, we couldn’t find an obvious trail so we just followed some apparent footprints. Eventually, some cairns reassured us we were going the right way. There was also this interesting-looking table rock cairn that served as a nice landmark since it was so easy to get lost out here.
The walk undulated between hiking in the sandy wash and open areas atop slickrock. Eventually, we would get to a point where the wash had water in it and some muddy areas as well. There were bypass paths that went around such obstacles, but they involved a fair degree of bush whacking. Sometimes, mom and I wondered if we were going the right way at all, but we continued on the faith that following the wash would eventually get us to the desired arch.
After about an hour of hiking, I was becoming a bit concerned that maybe we had lost the trail. It had been a while since we last saw a cairn and all this trail-less bushwhacking and walking in the watery and muddy wash didn’t do much for our confidence.
But then, we rounded a bend in the wash and we could see a partial view of a massive rock span opening a window to the heavens ahead of us.
So with that, we hastened our pace and kept moving closer to Broken Bow Arch. Suddenly our fears and apprehensions melted away and gave way to elation and accomplishment.
And as we made one final crossing of the wash towards the top of the hill, the only thing that separated us from getting to the bottom of the huge arch was another steep ravine as the wash curved before us. Obviously, we weren’t going to go directly underneath the arch, but the views we had were good enough.
The giant boulders and fragments sitting at the bottom of the span indicated the forces at work to create this arch. Obviously it would not be the place to be should another chuck fall off and widen the span.
Still, the arch dwarfed us both and it looked like the tip of some dull spearhead. The wash went around the span of the arch and it kind of reminded me of Rainbow Bridge. I swear this arch probably could’ve been a natural bridge if the wash didn’t decide to finally go around the fin.
In addition to the gorgeous shape of the arch, the late afternoon sun was behind us so we got both the warm glow of its rays as well as the blue skies behind it. For both mom and I, this arch gave us a tremendous lasting impression that would in fact overshadow even our waterfall accomplishments made earlier.
By 3:45pm, mom and I finally had to part with the majestic span. It took another hour of more wash hiking before we had to make the last climb back up to that familiar looking table rock landmark. Going back was much easier as we had been the only ones on this “trail” during the day and so we were able to follow our own footprints when we weren’t sure about the trail.
We were finally back at the car park at 5pm. I still shake my head wondering how the Falcon Guide author thought this hike was “moderately easy.” But then again, different strokes for different folks.
The sun was still pretty high up on the horizon so we knew we had a chance to return to the Devil’s Garden to take more photos of the arches over there with better lighting. So without further adieu, we headed back on the unpaved road towards the garden.
By 6:20pm, mom and I had returned to the Devil’s Garden. There were many more cars at the car park this time. But still, it was pretty quiet when we got desired arches. My knees were inflammed from the just completed hike so I pretty much limped around with pain the greatest when I had to do any downhill walking.
But just as we had guessed, both Mano Arch and Metate Arch had great afternoon light. And so when the youngsters left, we had the arches to ourselves and took more photos. It was essentially the icing on the cake for a day that was full of accomplishments.
At 5:40pm, mom and I got back in the car and headed back to Escalante. At a little after 6pm, we made it to the Cedar Wash Road. Since my topo map said there was Cedar Wash Arch and the Covered Wagon Natural Bridge along the way, it seemed like a reasonable detour to take back to town. Mom was worried we might be driving the dirt road in the dark, but fortunately the road seemed a lot smoother than the Hole-in-the-Rock Road. The only rough spots were a couple of wash crossings.
However, as we zoomed along the road, we couldn’t find either of the two arches as there wasn’t any infrastructure nor tell-tale signs of the arches we sought. By 7:30pm, we were back in town as the sun had already set by now.
After filling up gas for tomorrow’s drive home, we stopped by the Prospector Inn for dinner. I was craving for a Navajo Taco so I couldn’t wait to reward myself for today’s hard work.
But then, when I got out of the restroom, mom told me they ran out of the Navajo Taco. Aww Bummer Dude!
Anyways, after settling for the usual fare of salad, trout, and rib-eye steak, we returned to the Circle D Motel and got cleaned up. We tried to sleep early so we could get an early start tomorrow and beat the Vegas traffic.
When mom and I were about to sleep, the silence was broken as the motorcycle group staying next door to us were being loud. Obviously inebriated from beers at the Escalante Outfitters, mom and I had trouble sleeping. I finally went up to them and requested if they could quiet it down. Fortunately, they were more considerate afterwards as they didn’t realize we were next door.
Still, it was yet another sign telling me not to make the same mistake again about going for the cheapest motel accommodation in town.