Day two on the White Rim Trail was another blue sky day and we had the luxury of not being in the hurry we had been in the last few days. Nevertheless we were up and soaking in the scenery and the sun and were on the road before too late in the morning.
We made our way around the next main canyon, Monument Basin, which I later photographed from above. It is quite an impressive sight. The erosive power of water in the desert is really impressive and left me wondering just how long some of these canyons have been forming. The way I understand it this sandstone accumulated when that state we currently know as Utah was under the ocean and located near the equator. Not only does the country make you feel small, but the few days we get to spend roaming around the blue marble are hardly a drop in the bucket of geological time.
We ventured out the road to the White Crack for a look around. We had hoped to camp there one night but when we started to plan the trip it was already reserved. I suppose it will be a reason to come back and do it again, darn. The short time we spent there was just enough to make a list of all the places we wished we could explore if we had a day or two. The White Crack is the point of the Rim above the confluence of the Colorado and the Green Rivers. Across the Colorado you are looking over into the Needles District of Canyonlands and looking over the Green you are gazing into the Maze, also part of the Canyonlands. I could stare at the shadows and rock hoodoos for hours trying to figure out the terrain. Which leads to the hazards of a trip, you always find more that you want to see and thus the list continues to grow.
After the White Crack, Murphy Hogback lay in our path. This was going to be the first challenge of the trail and surprisingly the first time I even put the truck in four-wheel drive. It’s a steep climb with a narrow spot or two but we went up with no issues and found ourselves on top in no time. One thing that gets you thinking is the chance for oncoming traffic. We didn’t face much traffic along the trail, but this would not be the place to meet someone else. Rock, paper, scissors for who gets to back up?
I have to give kudos to those that built this road. There’s not much here but loose rock and bedrock, so finding the right grades and routes to traverse this country is an impressive feat. From my understanding there were a few hearty souls that tried to graze livestock in the area and pioneered some trails (or followed those of the Native Americans before them). This included the Murphys from which the hogback is named as well as the Shafers who’s handiwork we witnessed in part 1. The road was really improved for the prospect of vast profits of uranium mines in the 1950’s which luckily never came to pass and soon after local tour companies started to bring people in to enjoy the sights. In 1964 the area was designated as a National Park.
Admittedly I didn’t do exhaustive research on the trail before setting out, but I was generally familiar with what was ahead. So there was a small surprise when our little celebration on top of the Hogback was short-lived and we almost immediately faced a similar downhill grade. We went down with no issue though and were soon on the search for the Black Crack. Since a lot of the features along the trail were signed we were almost expecting a sign for the crack. Once I knew we had passed it we parked and went for a walk. Before too long we happened across it.
The Black Crack is a quarter-mile long fracture in the White Rim. It gets a bit deeper and wider as you progress along it. It sure makes you wonder where the water goes that finds its way down the crack, and what future feature will be formed somewhere in the future.
After exploring the Black Crack we were on to our camp for the night, Candlestick.
We enjoyed a wander over the rim with great overlooks of the Green River. It sure is green, I wonder where it got its name.
Before long the sun set on another wonderful day. Did I mention the days are too short in November?