Instead of squeezing between snow banks, we’re squeezing between towering rock walls under a cloudless sky. The snow is well behind us. We made the right choice heading south from Banff.
While we’re still in Utah, we’ve left the city behind and are reveling in the beauty of the southern part of the state. We’re skirting the big national parks like Zion and Bryce Canyon and checking out some less-traveled places.
Near Green River, we hiked a 13km trail that took us to the narrowest slot canyon that can be done without any canyoneering gear, Little Wild Horse Canyon. It’s so narrow in spots you can balance yourself off the ground, with one foot on each of the two rock walls. In other places, you need to scramble over rocks carried down the canyon and jammed in by the tremendous power of flash floods. In fact, flash floods are a real danger here. Rain that falls kilometers away cannot be absorbed by the rocky surfaces. It runs down the mountainsides and across plateaus for long distances and forms into raging rivers that roar through narrow slot canyons carrying anything in their path. Some of the stones carried by these floods are the size of small cars. Imagine what would happen if a person was caught in their path. That is why it’s advised to check the weather forecast for the entire region before venturing into slot canyons. Best practice – talk to a local.
Near Bryce Canyon, we explored the Cassidy Trail near one of Butch Cassidy’s hideouts. It took us to another trail called Ledge Point, a rocky protrusion 2,330 metres up. No danger of flash foods here. Against a backdrop of intense blue sky, we looked down on the ochre mountains surrounding us, covered in deep green junipers, pinyon pines and ponderosa pines. To the west, our view was over the plains stretching off to the horizon.
On both of these trails, we met only a handful of other hikers. It’s still possible to find trails that you can have pretty much to yourself in this very popular part of the United States.