Clamber up Calf Canyon

For our second day in Utah, Herb took us to Calf Canyon. It is a beautiful area of sandstone rock and boulders, and more “classic Utah” scenery.

I loved this giant split rock. Looks like it got struck by a lightning bolt.

This old dead cottonwood tree had a lot of character.

Shade was a scarce commodity so we generally took advantage of it whenever we found some.

I love this double arch. Well, they aren’t exactly arches. They’re actually shelter caves. But they looked pretty neat, and rock’s got a great two-tone thing going on.

These guys look ready to tackle the canyon!

This was one of the more interesting bits of the hike, although difficult to capture in pictures. I suggested we leave the trail and hike up a dry creek bed. It turned out to be a fascinating detour. Herb found a softball-sized chunk of fossilized dinosaur bone that was good enough to rival anything found in a shop, and we all found unique rocks to take home. At this point, the gravelly creek bed became a narrow chute of smooth sandstone that required some climbing. I was able to shimmy up by placing my hands and feet on either side of the chute and spidering up. I knew Finn and Herb’s young goat, Barry, could jump high enough, but I wasn’t sure about the dog or the other two goats who were carrying packs.

Here I’m looking down at them while Phil scales the crack. The photo is deceptive. The notch was deeper than it appears.

Finn originally jumped up after me, but then he went back and explored the far side of the notch and created a false path for Sputnik.

Finn leaped across the canyon when Sputnik came up his path. The dog was able to scramble up with a boost from Herb, and Herb’s goat Shelby made a valiant attempt to scale the wall. But the weight of the pack pulled him back down and Herb had to take him back and find a detour.

Sputnik scaled this wall and then got stuck. He wasn’t sure where to go. Finn had leaped across the notch with no problem, but Sputnik is not as athletic as Finn and was wearing the packsaddle. The walls of the notch sloped back as they got higher, making it a much wider jump than I was comfortable with. I’m not sure Sputnik was comfortable with it either, but he also didn’t seem comfortable with the idea of hiking back down the canyon and finding a way around.

Sputnik had to land where Finn is standing, which is probably a good 10-12 feet across. He contemplated his next move for quite a long time while we waited for Herb and Shelby to take their detour.

I thought Sputnik would choose to go back down and take the detour as well, and I was about to hike down myself and encourage him in that direction, but he suddenly took flight and leaped across. I wish I’d gotten a photo of it! He sauntered up to me afterward like it was no big deal.

I love Sputnik’s expression: “Do you mean we have to climb up there?”


By noon, shade was in very scant supply, but we spotted an overhang high above us on the canyon wall. We climbed up to it and picnicked there and removed the goats’ packs. The canyon ahead of us was choked with large boulders and we weren’t sure how narrow it might get, so we stashed the packs under a rock and continued our hike without them.

Look closely under Sputnik’s boulder and you’ll see Luna panting in the shade. She got a little hot that day and took advantage of every spot of shade she could find.

We all took advantage of the shade under this large overhang. The thing about narrow rock canyons is that they reflect the heat back at you all day, so these shady bits are like little pieces of paradise.

I love the rich, deep red walls with the white band running through.

The walls narrowed almost to a slot canyon near the end.

Something about the light and shadow makes me love this photo. And I love the myriad holes in the rock behind Finn’s head.

The end of the canyon! This was a very rewarding hike because we were able to reach the final destination. Too often these canyons get choked by boulders and/or brush to the point where you can’t continue and you are left wondering how much further it runs on and where it goes. This one ended in a tall, vertical stone wall.

A straight-up view from the bottom.

The view back down to where we came from.

Phil isn’t a silly guy at all. No indeed.

Emerging from the narrows.

Sputnik almost matches the jumbled rocks behind him.

Back to our shady overhang for another quick break to cool off.

Herb scoots down the steep slickrock boulder while Finn looks on.

Finn scoffs at human incompetence as he trips lightly down the rock face on his agile, grippy goat toes.

The light was strange as we emerged from the canyon, and we could smell smoke in the air. The Trail Mountain Fire was blazing just north of us. It had been started intentionally by the government as a “controlled burn” two weeks earlier, but had immediately gone out of control because of the drought. The fire was still raging when Phil and I returned a few days later from Idaho and I hear it’s only just now winding down nearly a month after it started. Our taxpayer dollars at work, folks!


Love the little peek-a-boo hole.

The view behind us.

Phil Hassey: Goat Guru.

We brought water with us for the goats, but they finished it off before the day was done, so they were delighted when we came across this trickle of water near the trailhead. Goats don’t generally like to get their feet wet in a natural creek bank, but if they’re thirsty enough they’ll brave the mud.

1 thought on “Clamber up Calf Canyon

  1. The cottonwood tree may have had character, But underneath it is a real character!! You guys are just having too much fun!

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