Ice Is Nice

Mouth of side canyon, and Sipapu Bridge.

Mouth of side canyon, and Sipapu Bridge.

Down in White Canyon at Sipapu Natural Bridge, for further exploration. This trip I started to explore a side canyon that emptied in just above the Bridge.

After pushing through a short of section of brush and young cottonwood trees that screened off the mouth from the trail, and might discourage most casual hikers to stay in the main canyon, I was delighted to find it open into a wonderful U-shaped trough carved out of the Cedar Mesa Sandstone.

Cedar Mesa Sandstone formations, White Canyon.

Cedar Mesa Sandstone formations, White Canyon.

It was easy walking, a trickle of water flowing down from the snow still melting up on the rim of the canyon. The overlapping layers of cross bedded sandstone (indicating that they had been laid down as desert sand dunes) made for a nice design.

Retreating ice, canyon pool.

Retreating ice, canyon pool.

Several of the water pools still had ice floating on their surfaces. But they had melted along the edges, and so moved about slowly with the tiny stream’s current. The last leaves of autumn had fallen on the surface, still slightly yellow, and since they are darker than the almost white ice they absorb more heat from the sky, even in such a shady spot. They were slowly melting into the surface of the ice.

Cottonwood leaves on ice, White Canyon.

Cottonwood leaves on ice, White Canyon.

Further up there was a pour-off; a ledge with a high waterfall. End of the trail, at least for now. Too high to climb around without a lot of trial and error. Besides, I was feeling done for the day, having already hiked up the main canyon. This was merely a side trip on the way back out. A very gratifying one. I would be back.

Sandstone bowl near the head of the side canyon.

Sandstone bowl near the head of the side canyon.

Photo location: White Canyon, Natural Bridges National Monument, San Juan County, Utah. Click on any image to see a much larger version.

All content © 2014 Stephen J. Krieg.

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