WasatchWill

Jun 12, 2018

A Pleasant Overnighter Down Pleasant Creek

After a fantastic night with my oldest daughter, Willow, down in Willow Gulch, it was time for another round of Daddy-daughter backpacking with my next oldest daughter, Ellory.  For this trip, I'd return to Capitol Reef's Pleasant Creek so that Ellory could experience it for the first time.

Day 1
Wednesday - June 6, 2018

Due to a delay with a tire problem among other things, I barely made it to Capitol Reef's Visitor Center to pickup a backcountry permit for the trip I had planned with Ellory this night.  Fortunately, I arrived with Willow, prior to exchanging her for Ellory at my in-laws in Torrey, about 10 minutes before the center closed.  With permit in hand, I drove Willow back up to Torrey and there picked up Ellory.

We made the drive down to the trailhead and got on the trail hastily.  We'd have a couple hours of good light left to hike about 2 miles down stream to the area I had anticipated being able to find a good camp spot at.  Because of how hot it had been through the day, we opted to wear shorts, which turned out to be a mistake because there turned out to be some biting flies active that were horrendous, even with some bug spray on.  We would go on to find that staying in the water where possible helped to thwart off their relentless attacks.

Nonetheless, we managed to carry on.

At the head of the canyon

Shortly after starting down trail, we made the little detour up and over to a petroglyph panel I was familiar with so Ellory could see the history.

Three figures of Fremont origin

Some bear paws and what's believed to be a depiction of the creek

From the panel, we continued to make our way down the canyon.  Despite the late start, it proved to be beneficial as the air quickly began to cool off with a nice little breeze at times.  Much more pleasant than it would have been had we hiked down earlier in the day.

Ellory makes her way down the trail

Skirting along Pleasant Creek

Of course, there were plenty of creek crossings and other times featured stretches where we just walked right with it.  This too helped to keep things cool.

Making one final creek crossing before settling on a campsite

When we arrived in the area I had wanted to camp, it actually became much more of a struggle to find a spot that would do well because of how much cactus and so forth there was.  After a bit more probing around, we set up our tents on a couple small, fairly flat spots that had good smooth durable surfaces.  Night came quickly thereafter and we retired to bed shortly after dinner, some game playing, and dessert, which would be another muffin I was able to dry-bake on the stove.

Tents up, ready for night fall



Day 2
Thursday - June 7, 2018

Morning then followed and so it was time to rise with the sun.

Morning at camp

I made us some pancakes, just like I did with Willow.  Once again, they came out great.

Pancakes for breakfast...again

With full bellies, we changed our clothing, packed up camp, then separated out a few day supplies for a few short hikes before returning to the trailhead.  First, I led Ellory up into a nearby slot canyon.  She loves to take on challenges, especially when it involves climbing, so we had a good time climbing and stemming up a few small obstacles before we hit what became an impassable pour-off for us.  Still, it was a bit farther up than I had made it the prior year when I had backpacked through here on a solo trip.

Heading up the slot

Chasing the light

Still chasing the lighted walls


A slot selfie

Heading back down canyon

Ellory pauses to gaze up the high walls

Once done with the slot, we went down stream a ways, looking for some other petroglyphs that were supposed to exist along another wall in the canyon.  I had missed them last time I came down, having forgotten to look closely for them at the time I had passed by them.  This time I had success in both remembering to look for them and then finding them.

A Bighorn Sheep glyph

With these particular petroglyphs there was a nearby archeological site we stopped at for a bit, a site I had taken time to visit the year before.

Some historic maize

From there, it was back down into the stream, where we blew up some cheap float tubes we had brought with us and had a grand time doing a little bit of floating on the creek.

Tubing on Pleasant Creek...well, trying to

Fun, fun, fun!

Having spent most of the morning time we had, it was time to return to our packs and head back up the creek to return to the car at the trailhead.  The scenery remained spectacular.

Splashing in the creek

Almost back to camp

A large puddle full of tadpoles we stumbled into

An infant slot

Ellory admires the erosive forces of water at work

Looking upstream along Pleasant Creek

Another shot looking upstream of Pleasant Creek

Prickly Pear flower

Back at the car, we made the drive back up into Fruita where Ellory was able to earn herself a Jr Ranger badge.  We also enjoyed some delicious peach pie with ice cream bought from the historic homestead store in Fruita.

Horses out at the barn in Fruita

Capitol Reef's then newest junior ranger

Despite the biting flies we had to put up with, it was another fantastic one-on-one trip with one of my children.  They don't always like the hiking part, but they always love the camping and playing parts.  When asked if it was worth the hike for the things she got to see and do, she replied without hesitation: YES.  

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About Will

Will Will lives at the footsteps of Utah's famed Wasatch Mountains. He enjoys hiking, camping, backpacking, sports, running, vegetable gardening, nature, food, photography, art, and spending time with his wife and kids.

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