Always a view at Dead Horse Point State Park
We had the trails completely to ourselves ... except for all the desert cottontails and jackrabbits, and the solitary footprints of an unseen, early morning hiker. I did manage to crash on Whiptail: successfully riding up a rock ramp, only to hit a bump and go flailing into a bush. It was nothing serious, just got banged up and scratched a bit, but it did manage to dent my confidence for the return ride. When we got back to the truck, we were amazed to see the parking lot nearly full, and were even more grateful that we hadn't had to deal with riders on the trails. As we stood around, consuming post-ride refreshments (including deli sandwiches we'd managed to remember this time), the temperature dropped, the wind picked up and some sprinkles of rain hit us. Once again, we'd timed it just perfectly.
Park near here
After consulting our map and our weird little hiking book, Moab Country Day Hikes: Forty One-Day Hikes in the Moab Vicinity, by Fran and Terby Barnes, we came up with a nearby afternoon hike: page 43, Sevenmile Canyon - South Fork. [What's weird about this book, and the other one we have, which is forty more day hikes in the Moab vicinity (purchased at the most excellent Back of Beyond Books bookstore, on Main Street in Moab), is that it doesn't give you mileage, and a lot of their listed hikes are basically freestyle, a la "walk out here and roam around for a while" - which is challenging for a rule-follower like me.]
Need to look this one up
There's no marked trailhead for the south fork of Sevenmile Canyon but we found it by following highway mile markers and then confirming the start by locating some wonderful desert bighorn sheep petroglyphs near where the book said to park. We crossed Route 313, squeezed around a fenceline and entered the south fork of Sevenmile Canyon - which we had all to ourselves. We were literally the only ones in there, which is simply remarkable given Moab's popularity. There were tracks in the now-dry wash - both horse and 4WD vehicle - which meant that this fork of the canyon isn't entirely unfrequented, but to be all alone there, surrounded by red cliffs and blue skies and sand underfoot? So cool.
Sevenmile Canyon South Fork
We didn't intend on hiking the length of the canyon but were on the lookout for a formation called "Fraggle Rock," which was a hole in a rock ledge with a round boulder perched on top. The walking wasn't all that easy since we were in coarse sand but it was pretty flat. The pretty canyon got narrower and narrower; we ducked under a gate set up by the BLM to keep all motorized vehicles from progressing deeper into the canyon, but which allowed foot- and horse-traffic to go on. At this point, the sand was wet underfoot, as springs came to the surface. The trees and smaller vegetation got much thicker and there were birds everywhere.
Funky canyon walls
At just past two miles, we spotted Fraggle Rock (very cool formation and exactly like the photo in our book) and called that our turnaround spot. When we got back to the truck (5.14 miles round trip, 1 hours), the weather switched again to wind/cold/rain - once again, excellent timing on our part. We drove back to town, cleaned up and managed to stay awake long enough for a 7 p.m. dinner reservation at Miguel's Baja Grill: margaritas, lamb tacos for me and the "Mother of all Burritos" for H. What a good day.