Walking Pleasant Creek Road in Capital Reef National Park

Saturday, July11, 2020

There is only one rational time to hike in Utah in July, and that is early. I slept in this morning until 6:30, made coffee, grabbed two Cliff bars and the cameras and took off. It’s an hour drive to the end of The Scenic Drive, where I had decided to walk the Pleasant Creek Road. Looking at all the other hikes in the park, I thought they might be crowded, but this one would probably be quiet. 

You can’t drive The Scenic Drive without taking pictures. You see something different, or the light looks different. It is always pretty and amazing to think that millions of years ago, this just pushed out of the Earth, folding over the fault that created it. Imagine driving through here and these plates decide to slide again. Even a little rumble would send a lot of rocks rolling. “Civilization exists by geological consent,” wrote the American historian Will Durant, “subject to change without notice.” 

By the time I got to Pleasant Creek and collected my stuff, it was 8:15. I figured I’d walk an hour out and an hour back on this dirt road perfectly suited for a Jeep Wrangler. A sign said no ATV’s allowed. I thought the road would follow Pleasant Creek, but it did not. I think there is a trail that follows the creek in both directions. I saw it going downstream, but I didn’t want to go that way. Besides, I was only going for an hour out and an hour back, and it looked pretty easy. 

Pleasant Creek Road after crossing the creek.

As I began to leave, I grabbed my big knife and put it on my belt. After all I was going by myself and there are cougars in the park. If I had had a backward-facing mask, I would have put it on. Cougars always attack from behind. As I crossed the creek and walked up the dusty road, the sun was on my left and the moon on my right. 

There were bluffs close to the road, a perfect place for a cougar to wait. This place has tons of rabbits, so they could surely live off those, as well as the many deer, bighorn sheep, and occasional elk. Why eat a tough, old human? Nevertheless, I kept looking behind, scanning the bluffs and looking for tracks, but I never saw any. I planned my strategy though. If I had time, I would use my backpack as a shield, then pull the knife and get him while he was in the air. 

It was a nice hike with pretty views and an interesting landscape. I walked a bit further than I anticipated – about an hour and half out before turning around. I thought there was a campground up here, but maybe I just didn’t get that far. When I turned around at 9:45, it was starting to get hot. 

I thought I heard something behind me and stopped to listen. After a few minutes three ATV’s came down the road, waving as they passed. I was surprised how quiet they were. Most of the ones I’ve seen are terribly noisy. These made this road look easy. 

About 20 minutes later I caught up with them resting in the shade. They hadn’t seen a campground and had come from the other side of the mountain, in Boulder, Utah. It was three couples, who were very nice. They talked about the places they had ridden in the last few days. Utah is a great place for this, and I could see how this would be a great way to explore a lot of tough roads.

As I walked back down the road, I was getting hot and tired, and I became lax about watching my back. I was easy pickings now. I was getting pretty tired when I finally came to Pleasant Creek. It is a perfect name in this hostile environment. I soaked my sweat towel in the cold water and wrapped it around my head. I’m pretty sure that water would be fine to drink, but I had plenty in the truck. 

A car was parked on the other side of the lot. Now I could see there was a trail going up the creek, but not really marked or very definitive. Next time I will go that way.

Tomorrow I will leave, driving north to Twin Falls, Idaho. I wanted to go to Great Basin National Park on Rt. 50, but I enjoyed myself here too long. I really like this park. I like Sandcreek RV Park, where I can watch Grit TV at night. I love those old westerns, back when there were arguments about television being a bad influence. All of these westerns had a moral. I like Harry, who owns Sandcreek RV. The WIFI is as good as home. It’s nice to have the cute, little town of Torrey a few blocks down the street with everything I needed and more. There are a number of restaurants, motels and more. Capital Reef is a very cool park. I only saw parts of it, each day discovering something more. I could easily come back for another week.

I also enjoyed The Loneliest Road. It took me to some wonderful places, cute towns, beautiful countryside and a road to drive and relax, like days of the past. I will drive it again. But today will be more harried, driving north through Salt Lake City. I did not want to do that, but it would be 10 hours to go around, but 7 going through. One harried day, then on to Stanley where things are slower and absolutely gorgeous.

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