There be goblins!

After a short but memorable hike to Capitol Reef’s Hickman Bridge, and with plenty of daylight left, we headed back to camp and packed up. Our next destination was only about 70 miles away, and as usual our scouting party aka-the kids, set out before us. We rolled through the waterpocket fold, amazed at the changing landscape around us. Old mines and orchards were around every turn as we approched the Factory Butte OHV area. Factory Butte is an exceptional off-road riding experience, this manco-shale badland also offers up incredible wildflowers in season (we were too early). We stopped just long enough to take some drone footage and meet a couple that was relocating from, strangely enough…. our old home state, North Carolina. Before long, we continued on our way, and chased the kids down to Goblin Valley (bwahahaha).


Goblin Valley is a state park in Utah with plenty of adjacent BLM land, and with the day getting older and the shadows getting longer we wanted to get established. We met the kids on a BLM road a bit further than we had anticipated, they had picked out an exceptional spot. In our choosy manner we decided we wanted to be little closer to the park, so we backtracked about a mile to another nice candidate.

We ended up settling on a spot under a large mesa. With a bit of daylight to spare we headed up to the base of the mesa. There were some great campsites there, but due to the soft sand we didn’t want to chance taking the camper there. There were so many little passages spread throughout the mesa, mostly made of mud. You could run your hand over them and they would just crumble. It did however make for beautiful formations that would certainly be re-formed at the next rainfall.

We explored at length before making dinner. Kepler taught me a new card game,  Sheisskopf, which we proceeded to play multiple rounds of, almost all of which I lost! After everyone turned in, I decided to break out the camera. I am very new to night photography, but these dark skies were too much to pass up, so I bundled up and went out to take some mediocre shots!

The next morning we woke up early and piled into the car to take in Goblin Valley. Goblin Valley doesn’t really have trails per-se, there are a few suggested routes, but for the most part, you just explore on your own, and that is exactly what we did. Heading out from the parking area you descend down into the valley passing numerous freestanding sandstone formations, and if you decide to venture further you will find yourself in an amazing maze of passages and surreal landscapes. Frankie, Cate and I stuck together, rock hopping as Kepler and MX explored the alien landscape.

MX demonstrating the reverse bendy chimney technique

Later we journeyed up the road a bit to a place called Little Wild Horse Canyon, a slot canyon that makes a loop with Bell Canyon. Now when you think of the term “slot canyon” there could be no better discriptor. While there were wide areas scattered around in the canyon, there were literally long passages called “narrows” that were maybe only 2 feet across, some even where I had to turn sideways or even walk on a slant. If you had met another hiker on these stretches, the easiest way to have dealt with the situation would have been to do the old Chimney maneuver, and let them pass under you!

We were not only tight on space, but also a bit tight on time since we wanted to get to our camp outside of Moab before dark, so we synchronized our watches and set a time when we would turn back. Luckily, the turn around alarm happened at the perfect spot. A wide open spot in the canyon, lush with trees and shrubbage! So we squoze our way back through the canyon, packed up the camp, and the kids took off with the promise of a night in a hotel and hot showers waiting in Moab. Cate, Frankie, and I went back to Goblin Valley to take some drone videos and pics on the way out! FYI, drone flying is allowed in Goblin Valley, one merely needs to fill out a form and pay a small fee. Unfortunately had not been aware of that on our first hike when we had more time. Alas.
On the way out we also noticed a gorgeous little campground with sun shelters and and RV dump, and one of the coolest disk golf courses I have ever seen.

Next up: Moab, Canyonlands, and Arches


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