Things that hikers in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument have always had to worry about: flash floods, getting lost, dehydration.
Things that hikers in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument also have to worry about as of this week: decomposing cow carcasses blocking narrow slot canyon passages.
The Salt Lake Tribunereports that earlier this month, a cow wandered into a slot opening near Peak-a-Boo Canyon and got stuck. Though much of the monument's range is fenced off to prevent such occurrences, officials speculate that this cow may have escaped through a breach caused by storm damage.
After numerous attempts to free the animal failed, ranchers put it down with a gunshot and removed its head and front quarters.
Things went from bad to worse, however, when the ranchers made an ill-advised attempt to burn the remains of the carcass, creating a rancid stench that permeated the canyon and left the charred hind quarters still wedged in the opening. Monument officials are now tasked with cleaning up the awful mess, leading to this grim kicker:
Although the cow is not blocking hikers’ passage through Peek-a-Boo, officials are concerned that as the buried carcass decomposes, it could pose a safety hazard when hikers scramble over it.
You've been warned.
Read more: Salt Lake Tribune