After Monument Valley, there were a few sites that we wanted to see. The Southeast corner of Utah is very spread out, so getting from one site to the next is anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Our first stop was Goosenecks State Park. This state park reminded me of Dead Horse Point and Horseshoe Bend except that it has an added bend to it. We spent about a half hour here taking photos and enjoying the scenery. Our next stop would be Natural Bridges National Monument. The road to Natural Bridges is pretty rad; there is a section of the road called the Moki Dugway that switchbacks up the side of a cliff. We stopped at a lookout point to look back at the road. It was a little nerve-wracking to see that we had just driven up a giant cliff. Looking off the cliff you can see the skeletons of wrecked cars that had lost their way, which made it even more reassuring….
Like I said in the previous post, Blake had done some research on hikes to indian ruins in this area. He found one that looked amazing called Perfect Kiva in the Bullet Canyon section of Cedar Mesa. Before we left I looked at the description of the hike and it looked long and we didn’t know how much time we would have. Fortunately, when we reached this area, it was only about noon and our plans were to camp at Natural Bridges, which was only a half hour away. This gave us quite a bit of extra time, so we decided to go for it. The trail description says that the hike is about 9 miles round trip and because our hike the day before had been easy, we figured this hike would be pretty similar in intensity. Boy were we wrong! The hike started out very easy; about a mile in we looked up and saw a very neat ruin. Another mile and we were finally descending down into the canyon. We had read that the descent could be kind of tricky but we breezed down it with no problems. The next few miles were spent climbing over boulders and bush whacking. I was getting a little frustrated because the description I read didn’t mention any of this. I thought that if the descent had been the worst part and we didn’t struggle, then the rest must be easy. Wrong again. This trail doesn’t seem to get much traffic so it can be hard to follow. Route finding proved to be the most challenging part of this hike. Blake sped ahead of me to find the ruins; after what felt like hours to me, I finally heard a yell that he was there. Ruins is an overstatement, because they seemed almost untouched. This cured any and all of my bad attitude about this hike. As we were walking around, examining the Perfect Kiva, we found several shards of pottery. Finding pottery shards in such good condition is almost unheard of! We didn’t bring any home! You could see the charcoal from the fires as well as corn cobs on the ground. It was truly incredible to think about how these objects were still here thousands of years later.
On the hike out, we paid close attention to the trail and rock cairns. Luckily, this led us on a quicker route back, bypassing the boulder jams in the canyon below. By the time we got back to the car, the sun was beginning to set. We found a nice place to camp a few miles off the main road near the Bears Ears formation. Once again, we spent our evening cooking dinner and photographing the stars. In the morning, we woke up early and went straight to Natural Bridges. We didn’t spend too much time exploring here, because we were pretty tired and anxious to get home. Though, we did see all three of the beautiful bridges.