Monday, March 3, 2014

Peek-A-Boo Canyon and Spooky Gulch

I think we all have those "I wanna go there" places on our bucket list, and along with that we probably have a list of reasons why we haven't been there.  I know the first thing coming to mind is probably ideas like fishing in Alaska, a more distant national park, or maybe a foreign country.  But what about some of the places close to home that we talk about but just haven't got to yet?

Well, I'll admit, I live in one of the most beautiful and fun filled areas of the world, and there are still a lot of things within 1-2 hours of my own home that I have not got out to see yet.  Honestly, I think a big part of that is the fact that I have my favorite places I love to return to, and very small kids have kept me from adventuring into a few of the more remote areas as well.  Peek-A-Boo Canyon and Spooky Gulch have long been on my list, and honestly I haven't had a good reason at all not to have hiked all the way through this loop in my 33 years of living in this area.

This was all pretty spur of the moment for our family, mostly because the weather was unseasonably warm, but we decided we were going to do it last Saturday.  We did a little homework, checking out the route online and reading what others had said about young children hiking the 2 slot canyons.  Everything sounded fairly positive so we gave it a go. 

I won't say much in detail now, as the following video does do a great job of it, but I do need to add a few details.  We followed a large group from northern Utah into the canyon system, and at first I'll be honest, I was a little annoyed.  I thought the idea of being alone, just our family was going to be so nice.  As we waited for the group to climb into Peek-A-Boo, a very friendly woman (later I learned her name was Tina Crowder) was very kind to offer us help in getting the family up their rope and into the slot.  We took her up on it as we could see how much easier it would be with a rope.  Three people of the large group helped us up and in.  As soon as we all were up in the canyon, these gracious folks invited us to join them along the way.  Initially, we let them in front of us and just followed, but we found our kids having a blast interacting with them, and Tina was snapping a lot of photos of us, several of which are in the video.  She exchanged information with us and sent them to me via Facebook.  The group also assisted us in getting through the difficult portion of Spooky Gulch. 

Which brings be to my next point, the most difficult part of Spooky Gulch did not get captured of film.  I wanted to pass this on so it doesn't catch anyone by surprise that gives this hike a try.  Half-way down Spooky you will encounter a "boulder jam", where boulders have fallen into the slot (many, many years ago) these boulders being suspended 10-15 feet above the bottom of the canyon.  There is a "hole" between a couple of boulders where you have to lower yourself into onto a lip, then scoot on your back down through the rest of the hole.  You can grab an overhanging rock to kind of hang off of to push through the hole.  As you drop, a ledge on the right side offers a hold for your feet until you can get to where you can see again.  Then you can use both hands (on opposite canyon walls) to lower yourself to the bottom.  I had to jump about 3 feet to hit the bottom.  It's not as bad as it sounds, it's just a little confusing as to what to do when you hit this rock jam.  It was nice to have the group to follow to help us out!

Keep in mind these slot canyons are very tight.  If you are claustrophobic I would not recommend going in!  My 10 year old had to take off his Camel Bak (water pack) to fit through a couple of spots in Spooky.  I am 6'4", and just a little over 220 pounds, and I can recall 1 spot where I really had to suck in to get through.  My chest and back rubbed most of the way through the really narrow part of Spooky.  There were a couple of guys in the group in front of us just a bit bigger than me that made it just fine too though.  Just keep in mind (not to be rude) if you are big you will not fit!  There are no alternate options other than turning back.  Peek-a-Boo isn't as tight as Spooky, but there is a bit more scrambling in Peek-a-Boo.  I would call it a "moderate" hike of 3.2 miles if you do the entire loop.

We hope you enjoy the video!  Feel free to comment or email if you have any questions about the hike.  This is a must-see for yourself!  If it's on your list you should really make the time to make it happen.

And if you come to the area from farther away, check out Escalante, Utah for more to do and more to see!  It's a great spring break destination for your family!