Sunday, October 22, 2017

Turning the Page, Arizona

We spent several days camped at Page, Arizona two years ago. We checked out the most popular things in the area on that trip. We kayaked the canyons of Lake Powell, we photographed the swirls on an Antelope Canyon tour, and we hiked the Garden Wall trail. So for this short overnight stop, we were looking for something new. We read about a hike to "The Toadstools," so we drove thirty miles northwest of town to see them.

A toadstool happens when a larger cap rock is perched on a pedestal rock, like a mushroom. This is the star of the show, because it has an hour-glass figure below that heavy cap stone. With Mark standing underneath, we can see that this is bigger than the mushrooms we see at the grocery store.

Toadstools form when the softer rock of the pedestal wear away due to water and wind erosion. The white base of this toadstool is blending in with mountain behind it, but we can't help but wonder how that darker rock got up there. We are wondering about this wonder as we wander beside it.

Likewise, where did these pink rock spires come from, and why are they capped with a completely different colored rock? So many wonderings!

That big white wall was just begging for Mark to climb it, and that royal blue sky was begging Denisa to take a picture.

The trail to the toadstools was a well-worn path, and there were signs reminding hikers to stay on that trail. In this land of sandstone that becomes sand, the wind blows the fine sand around. But sand that develops a heavy crust is more stable to the effects of erosion. There's a term for this crusty sand--cryptobiotic soil. It happens when living organisms attached to the soil knit together to hold the soil in place. One foot step crushes the crust than can takes years to form. So hard as it was, we stayed on the trail.

We got the final look at those crazy toadstools from a distance, not sure if it was worth the long drive and hike. But it was a fun new thing to see on this new page of the Page Adventure.

We've been to Powell Lake before, but we went to a new-to-us area called Lone Rock Beach. The water in the lake is a beautifully clear blue, and we can see Lone Rock all by itself on the right-hand-side of the picture. We thought it was too windy to blow up the kayak, but we almost commandeered the one that was left on the shore.

It was hard to take a picture here at Lone Rock Beach without a boat or RV in it. That's because camping is allowed on the shore. Rigs are shoe-horned in at odd angles any way they will fit. There's no hook-ups, but there were RVs as far as we could see.

Another mandatory stop near Page is Horse Shoe Bend. We were told that this was a quiet place ten years ago when it was unknown to most travelers. But some international guide book discovered it. Now it is packed with tour buses, and a steady stream of people making the half-mile trudge through the sand.

They are all making this difficult walk through the sand to see the Colorado River as it make a 270-degree turn through a high-wall canyon.

There is no admission fee, and no guard rails to protect the clumsy tourist from the 1,000 foot drop to the river below. There's one of those clumsy tourists now, standing near the edge.

We could look far below at the emerald green water of the Colorado River. We also saw kayakers and paddle boarders, looking like tiny specks from this distance. We're adding a kayak trip down this section of the Colorado to our bucket list. It will take some planning and some expense. Surrounded by tall cliffs like this, it's not easy to get a kayak on this river.

After a restful night in the local Walmart parking lot, we went to church on Sunday morning in Page. We were planning to leave town right after church, but a member there told us about a nice hike a few miles outside of town. Advice from a local is too good to pass up, so we changed our plans and took off on the "Twin Towers" trail. You can barely see the two little towers in the trail ahead of Denisa.

Size and distance can be deceptive here in the desert. By the time we walked the mile or so to the first little tower, we discovered it wasn't so small. You can see Denisa at the bottom, giving the picture some scale.

We also found a toadstool along the way that we weren't expecting.

This is an unmarked trail with no map or no trailhead sign. If Terry hadn't told us about it, we would have never found it. But with his descriptions, we found our way climbing higher and higher up towards the upper mesa.

The climax of the hike was finding the arch at the edge of that tall mesa. It's a little hard to see, but Mark is standing on top of the arch made of pink sandstone. The light and shadows make it hard to see, but ten feet below him is nothing but air.

We traded places and took pictures from different angles, but it's a hard arch to photograph. Let's just say it was higher and scarier than it looks, hanging out on an arch at the edge of a tall mesa.

There's a big rock cairn on top of the arch, and Denisa added one more stone to celebrate the fact that we found our way here. We appreciated Terry sharing this local hike, where the busloads of tourists were far away.

We followed a trail down off the mesa, and discovered it was a different trail than we had came up on. We also discovered we were on the wrong side of the canyon from those twin towers behind Mark.

Let's just say it was a longer, harder trail back to the car. But we did get a picture of Denisa standing at the base of the second tower with this detour route.

On the way back to the car we barely fit through the slot in this canyon. It's a good thing we were stopping for pizza after the hike instead of before. It was a great local hike on a beautiful afternoon!

So it was a little later than we had planned when we pulled out of our Walmart camping spot. We still needed to make the 1.5 hour drive to our next destination, and the sun was setting below the rock formations along the highway. We had made full use of our 24 hour return trip, but now it was time to turn the page once again on Page, Arizona.

3 comments:

  1. Hi! We're in Page for 3 months right now (my husband does travel nursing) and I'm so happy to find your blog. I'm especially excited about the Twin Towers hike :).

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    1. Glad to see you found our blog! We visited Page, AZ for a longer stay in 2015. If you're interested, there are more hikes and pictures there. Have fun!

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