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 > And So It Continues.... Cedar Mesa and Points North

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seldomseensmith

Flagstaff, AZ

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Posted: 09/24/09 08:07pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

After an unscheduled but very worthwhile visit to Navajo National Monument, I continued my perambulation (peregrination?) north into Utah. I know, what a surprise - I suppose by now most folks think that canyon country is all I care about, and they'd be right.... mostly.

If I lived near the ocean, I'd probably go there. If the Rockies were in my backyard, I'd bore you silly with alpine trip reports. As it is the stunningly beautiful and remote backcountry of the Colorado Plateau is just outside my door, and I'll probably never tire of exploring it. So be warned - if you're sick of sandstone and juniper, read no further!

The hike into Betatakin took much of the day, so it was late in the afternoon before I was able to resume the trek. I stopped in Kayenta for fuel, then turned north on Highway 163 towards Monument Valley and Mexican Hat. One landmark that has always impressed me on the way is Agathla Peak.

[image]

This large volcanic "plug" is all that remains of a magma intrusion into the surrounding sedimentary layers, now all stripped away by time and weather. The stark profile and jagged appearance is very different from the linear and almost orderly mesas and buttes of Monument Valley just ahead.

And speaking of those well known and possibly over-photographed icons of the American West, who am I to miss snapping a few obligatory shots?

[image]

[image]

The rental car, Harley, and 1-800-IMA-TOURIST Class C crowds were out in full force as I drove through the valley. I guess the kids being back in school brings out the more mature traveler - I wouldn't know about that [emoticon]

Crossing over the state line into Utah happens just the other side of the Valley. Then it's north to the community of Mexican Hat, located on the banks of the San Juan River. I did several river trips on the Juan in the 90's, and being here always brings fond memories (well, except for the time I hit that cow coming off Cedar Mesa [emoticon] - I hope no local ranchers read RV.net!)

The geology above the town is wild - the layers have been folded and twisted like plastic in an oven. And of course there is another "over-exposed" formation just north that gives the town it's eponymous name - Mexican Hat

[image]

[image]

Just past this landmark, Utah Highway 261 heads west - up and over Cedar Mesa on the Moki Dugway.

[image]

Now I know lots of folks have made this trip while visiting the area, and admittedly it's very cool. This mostly dirt road snakes it's way up the mesa, with several very tight switchbacks and stunning views of the valley below.

[image]

[image]

[image]

At the top the vistas stretch east into Colorado and over the Valley of the Gods, and south into Arizona and Monument Valley.

[image]

[image]

As the light was beginning to fade, I elected to turn south at the crest onto a dirt road that leads to a spectacular overlook of Monument Valley - but I had other plans. Several miles in a spur road leads about a mile to the edge of John's Canyon, a tributary of the San Juan carved into Cedar Mesa. It's always been a favored spot to spend a night or two enroute to some other beautiful place.

[image]

[image]

Once I set up I was free to relax and enjoy area. There is ridge which drops down a short ways into the gorge, and after scrambling around on slickrock for 30 minutes I had the best place to sit and think deep thoughts.

[image]

[image]

[image]

[image]

The way I see it, there's nothing better than sitting in repose on the edge of a canyon, peering into the depths and thinking about where you'll go next, Right now I'm pretty content, 'cause I'm just getting started.

[image]

Tomorrow: Elk Ridge and the Blues

Happy Trails!

* This post was edited 09/24/09 08:25pm by seldomseensmith *


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bb50

Calgary, AB

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Posted: 09/24/09 09:28pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

just added to my ever growing "to do" list - thanks for the great photos.

Less Stuff

WA. USA

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Posted: 09/24/09 09:44pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wow more great photos keep them coming.

You wrote:
"So be warned - if you're sick of sandstone and juniper, read no further!"

"Not hardly" as the Duke would say.


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Raften

Northern Calfornia

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Posted: 09/24/09 10:18pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We have a volcanic plug near here and many hundreds drive past it every day and have no idea what the 'strange' rock formation is. CalTrans didn't think too much of my idea of putting up a road side sign.


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BENT ARROW

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Posted: 09/24/09 11:05pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I was on Cedar Mesa a few weeks ago and saw several signs warning about Black Plague and rodents posted in areas people might camp in. They looked like they had been posted last spring or early summer. We camped higher on Elk Ridge and saw no warning signs.
From Elk Ridge we drove dirt roads to Beef Basin, beautiful drive.


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weymard

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Posted: 09/25/09 03:12am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

WOW ! thanks for these nice pictures !


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FarcticOx

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Posted: 09/25/09 05:30am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Seldomseensmith wrote:

The way I see it, there's nothing better than sitting in repose on the edge of a canyon, peering into the depths and thinking about where you'll go next,

Your words and pictures make my heart sing.[emoticon]

Thanks


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kohldad

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Posted: 09/25/09 05:58am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

When I win the lottery, I'm going to hire you as a personal travel guide for a year or two. You find some of the gretest places that I would love to go to one day. I quit markig individual spots as there were getting to be to many pins in the map. Now it's just a great big circle.

Keep the reports coming. I sure hope you are writing some of these trip reports up and submitting them to Trailer Life and other outdoor magazines. Cause you sure should be getting a little something for them.


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Nemo667

Louisiana

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Posted: 09/25/09 10:29am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Those views... Great report and pictures. Thanks seldom.


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daveshan

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Posted: 09/25/09 10:49am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

seldomseensmith wrote:

If the Rockies were in my backyard, I'd bore you silly with alpine trip reports. As it is the stunningly beautiful and remote backcountry of the Colorado Plateau is just outside my door, and I'll probably never tire of exploring it.


The Rockies are in my backyard and I still spend more time in Utah than up there.

Nice pics thanks, another place to add to my list.


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