Devil's Garden


Location: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, southeast of Escalante, Utah
Map: USGS 1:24K Quad Seep Flat or Trails Illustrated 1:70,500K Canyons of the Escalante #710
Access: From Escalante, take Hwy 12 southeast 5 miles, then turn onto the Hole in the Rock Rd and drive 12 miles. Watch for the signs and turn right at Devilís Garden. The mile marker system on the Hole in the Rock Rd is screwy, so use your odometer to gauge distance.
Fees: None for now
Trail: Very short, more of a stroll. 
Trailhead: UTM NAD83 zone 12 463384e 4159908n  5290í
Weather: Current and recent conditions   Local Forecast

April 22, 2008
I camped out beneath the stars, just me in my down bag on the ground near Harris Wash. It was April, and the grass was green in the canyons, but the cottonwoods were still bare up here near the rim, up here at 5,000 ft where the heat wafts up into space at night instead of getting trapped between sandstone walls below. I slept fitfully, tossing and turning, and wishing I could shower off the sweat and grime accumulated after 4 days backpacking the river, the rolling Escalante River that runs to the Colorado a few miles downstream.  My feet were cold, but my legs were sweaty, and my discomfort had me awake before dawn, waiting for the sky to lighten enough to pack up camp without aid of a flashlight. Ever have one of those nights? Those nights where you are actually anticipating the dawn for no other reason than to alleviate the discomfort of further time spent in a sleeping bag? This was one. I was near the car tonight for the first time this trip, and I contemplated getting into it and starting the engine to start the heat to warm my feet. But the night was so quiet and still, it seemed rudely out of place to break the peace, so I lingered as long as I could in the bag, thinking peaceful desert thoughts behind cold eyelids shutting out the bone white moonlight. Thus, long before the sun peeked over the horizon, I was standing up in the moonlight, pulling on long johns and trying to keep my socks from picking up too much sand as I fumbled with my pants and boots. Frost on my sleeping bag would turn to water later on, so I simply threw it loosely in the backseat to dry, then started the car, flipped on the headlights and began crawling down the bumpy sandy road towards the Hole in the Rock Road above. After a mile, I flipped on the heat and basked in the warmth pouring out of the console vents. Wonderful, delicious heat. 

Arriving at Hole in the Rock Road, I turned the wheel on my Subaru left and drove1.6 miles down the road towards Lake Powell before turning off south into a small lot at Devilís Garden. It seems there is no end to those who like to name things after the Devil, or a Devil. I believe the citizens of these United States are probably more thoroughly represented by geological features named after a devil than by the 435 members of the House of Representatives. And what does it mean, Devilís Garden? Do the shapes look like devils? To me they donít look very sinister, and come to think on it, they donít look anything like what I would guess any devil might look like. Names, names, names. We need them, but get too hung up on them. I stepped out of the car, pulled on my fleece gloves and extracted my burning-cold tripod and camera from the back. The sun was not yet up, but it was plenty light enough to see all around a landscape of hoodoos and sculpted fins of colored, layered sandstone. There were rough trails in the deep sand, but the area wasnít very large and didnít require much walking at all to get to all the formations. I walked around the place with my tripod clamped under my arm so I wouldnít have to hold it with my hands. I snapped photographs here and there, examining with interest the tracks of animals in the soft sand: rabbits, lizards, mice, others unidentified. A nice experiment would be to put a video camera on 1 square meter of desert overnight, then watch it at 4x speed and count all the critters that come into view. 

The sun lit up the Kaiparowits Plateau to the west, and the snow patches left in gullies and cracks glowed orange in the edgy dawn light. Slowly the demarcation between sun and shadow worked its way lower and lower on the opposing canyon wall just as my feet seemed to grow colder and colder waiting. Finally, the orange light touched the top of the tallest hoodoos and I began to walk around and take more photographs as the light began to flood the small area of rocks with a brilliant yellow glow. Not a sound could be heard, not a breath stirred. The moon hung like a dewdrop on a spiderís web in the west, sinking fast. I took more pictures, looked back, and the moon was gone. My hands ached from holding the tripodís cold aluminum, even through my fleece gloves it was painful to touch. Though the sun helped, I was still very cold. If I had slept indoors the previous night, and taken a nice hot shower that morning, and perhaps headed out with a steaming cup of coffee, I would probably not have found the conditions so chilly, but as it was, I was chilled to the bone. I found an arch (or did the arch find me?), but the sun was on the wrong side for a photo, so I simply admired it and tucked it away in my head for later. It will be a sad life indeed if I never again find myself on the Hole in the Rock Road. Cottontails scattered before me as I continued my stroll through the area. After an hour spent admiring the formations and snapping photos, I decided to hit the road and return to the city, home and reluctant employment. 

Devil's Garden, Utah
Devil's Garden, Utah
Devil's Garden, Utah
Devil's Garden, Utah
Devil's Garden, Utah
Devil's Garden, Utah
Devil's Garden, Utah

Devil's Garden, Utah
Devil's Garden, Utah
Devil's Garden, Utah
Devil's Garden, Utah
Devil's Garden, Utah
Devil's Garden, Utah
Devil's Garden, Utah
Devil's Garden, Utah
Devil's Garden, Utah
Devil's Garden, Utah
Devil's Garden, Utah
Devil's Garden, Utah
Devil's Garden, Utah
Devil's Garden, Utah
Devil's Garden, Utah
Devil's Garden, Utah


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