Mara here. Boy, am I jealous that Hike Like A Woman’s Jill and April were able to get together. And not only did they get together, they got together in Utah! Jill writes about their adventure.

Capitol Reef NP ~ Adventures of Two HLAW Ambassador: when 2 worlds collide

One of the things I look for when planning an adventure is not only where to go, but who would appreciate the surroundings as much as we do. I absolutely love going with those who enjoy the same things I do. I get it though, not everyone loves hiking, or camping, or backpacking, or 4-wheeling, or boating, or fishing, or birdwatching, or rock hunting, or petroglyphs or history, or…….

So, when my fellow Hike Like A Woman Ambassador, April McPherson and her boyfriend, Steve, wanted to meet at Capitol Reef National Park for a weekend in the desert, my husband, Dale, and I jumped at the chance.

First of all, not everyone appreciates the desert. I was a desert-hater until a few years ago. I learned how to love the harsh environment and now it’s one of my favorite places to hike. So, we were pretty stoked to hike and camp in the springtime desert.

Hickman Bridge Trail, CRNP

Second, we had never been on an adventure with April and Steve. I mean, we had all just met a few short months ago, but instantly connected. So, we were crazy excited to be spending the entire weekend with them.

Last of all, Capitol Reef NP was a place none of us had previously visited before. It would be a new experience for all of us. It’s always fun to explore new places with others who had not been there, also. We all get to see the park through a different set of eyes all at once and compare notes and pictures afterwards.

Our first day was spent driving (6 hours for us from Meeker to CRNP) and setting up camp. Easy peasy as the drive is mostly I-70 west to just past Green River then turn south to Hanksville, then west for 30 miles to Capitol Reef. April and Steve had arrived at the campground about a half hour prior. We were to spend the weekend in Fruita Campground.

Fruita Campground is on the original grounds where early Mormon pioneers tended to their orchards within the canyon walls. It is literally an oasis wrapped around the Fremont River consisting of apple, peach, cherry, apricot, walnut and pecan orchards which still produce fruit and nuts in the summer for park visitors to pick and eat. Deer, turkeys and yellow-bellied marmots run amok in the orchards as it provides a safe-haven for them.

Yellow-bellied Marmot

That evening, after setting up camp, we took a short drive to the Hickman Bridge TH. The trail follows the Fremont River a short distance before turning sharply uphill and heads towards the rim of the canyon which the river flows through. Amazing vistas greeted us at the top, but the prize was Hickman Bridge, a natural bridge created by flowing water and not wind and weathering like how natural arches are formed.

Hickman Bridge, CRNP

Five-thirty the next morning, found the four of us bumping along a lonely dirt road outside of the park (BLM land) heading towards the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon located back within the park. We were racing the sun so that we could experience a sunrise and all its glory in Cathedral Valley. April put the pedal to the metal to beat the sun ~ we even went airborne over some of the rises in the road! Yeehaw!!! But, as luck would have it, the sun was a little quicker than we were, but it was a most glorious beginning to the day. I never get up at 5:00am, but when I do, I do it for April.

Temple of the Sun, CRNP

Back at the campground, we stopped at the Gifford Homestead to pick up some freshly baked pies and cinnamon rolls. April the Planner had researched the area and had our day lined out for us ~ Dale and I were along for the ride!

Later that day found us at the trailhead of Grand Wash, a 4.4 mile RT easy hike through a gorgeous canyon complete with a .5 mile stretch of narrows which can be a bit harrowing during a flash flood. Along the trail the sandstone walls reached dizzying heights of 500 feet. Around every corner, intricate patterns of stain and erosion were evident everywhere.

The Narrows in Grand Wash, CRNP

Following the Grand Wash hike, we ventured a short distance down the highway to a roadside panel of petroglyphs ~ always so much fun to hear different perspectives of what the natives were trying to communicate.

After a quick break, we ventured down the road south of the campground and took the scenic drive to the Capitol Gorge Road. We all decided that area would be our stomping grounds for the next adventure in the park.

The next morning found April and I filming a segment for Hike Like A Woman ~ “What’s in Your Backpack?”  We decided to take a quick stroll along the Fremont River and pick a spot to set up our staging area. After .3 miles, the trail morphs from an “easy” hike to a “strenuous” one as it steadily climbs along a cliff that takes you to an overlook of the Fremont River Canyon a few hundred feet below.

April on the Fremont River Trail

A few yards into the hike, I realized I hadn’t packed any water!  #hikingfail  After all, we were expecting a nice, leisurely stroll alongside the Fremont River….. No matter, April had enough for me ~ she’s the caretaker of the group!

We filmed our segment (stay tuned for that hilarious episode!) at the overlook, then hiked back down to the campground below. From there, we hugged and said our, “see ya laters” ~ I never say, “goodbye”. We all headed our opposite directions ~ April and Steve to the west, Dale and I to the east.

Capitol Reef National Park is indeed a national treasure. We promised to return again soon and concentrate on a different area of the park. The park offers 15 different hiking trails ~ we now have 3 notches in our belt.  There are also many backcountry hiking trails to immerse yourself in.

April and I met because of our involvement with Hike Like A Woman both as ambassadors and as staff members.

Last fall, we found instant sisterhood and a life-long friendship behind scenes. We first met in person over last Thanksgiving. In Feb., she and her main squeeze, Steve, spent a weekend with us here in Meeker, CO. We became instant friends. The four of us are from completely different backgrounds and we are separated in age by decades. But all that doesn’t matter ~ the main ingredient in our friendship is the love of the outdoors. Everything else just naturally falls into place and is a bonus. We are now an adventurous, full loving small gang of outdoorsy people ~ and that’s a wonderful thing!

HLAW Sisterhood

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