Capitol Reef Trip Report - Backpacker

Capitol Reef Trip Report

See Honey, we were all hiking

Whoa! Busy here! I'm falling behind. Suddenly I received assignments writing about photography, and administering tests for next year's Gear Guide. The Outdoor Retailer Trade Show is rearing its ugly head, and now I'm suddenly assembling the logistics for a big, bad assignment in howling northern wilderness.

At the end of this month I disappear until September. Schweet! It's Jeremiah Johnson time! Now I just need to finish two months' work in three weeks. A month ago I was calculating how long until I went bankrupt; Now I'm hanging on like a gripped climber. Welcome to subsistence journalism.

Speaking of which, it's high time I got these photos up from my recent Capitol Reef trip with friends Pete and Mike Rives, who recently got spanked out of Wyoming's Wind Rivers by sleet, rain and knee-deep snow. So they called from Pinedale, drove nine hours south, and we punched it into the Waterpocket Fold. This fallback plan worked admirably.

Normally I'd leave it at that, but in this post-Sanford era it's best to keep up on your trip reports, at least if you're a married guy. (We hiked in heroic fashion and you should have been there Honey, but no, we did not tango.)

Apocalyptic thunderstorms were cruising all over the Reef while we were en marche, but we only got hit once, crossing a ridgeline near Ferns Nipple, where we had to wait until lightning quit striking the outcrop overhead. I've never seen so much water in the Waterpocket Fold. Spring has been wet, so all the potholes were brimming and every evening the frogs chorused manically.

We arrived at our ending trailhead in Capitol Gorge to find that the road had flash-flooded during our absence. We had parked up out of the wash, so we simply mud-bogged our way to the closed entry gate, surrounded as it was by a horde of anxious weekend tourists wondering why we were in there and they weren't. Fortunately, the park hadn't locked the gate. We were free, so we boogied on to the viz center to tell the rangers it was lockin' time or the road was toast.

The whole trip was awesome. Great friends, killer country, and we never saw a soul.

Tech notes: Pete's six photos were shot with a 2009 Editor's Choice Sanyo Xacti VPC-E2 waterproof video camera. My five were shot with a Nikon D200 dSLR. You can find more of Pete's photos and trip reports at

Photos 1,2,6,8,10,11: Peter Rives