Monday, March 30, 2009

Coyote Gulch: To Jacob Hamblin Arch and Back

Friday morning, after a long cold night, we got started hiking about 10:00 a.m. The wind had died down but it was still quite cold, particularly the water. Brad Wright, below, takes pains to cross the stream on a log in an effort to avoid putting his feet in the cold water.

The first real fun part of the stream was a small terraced drop, probably too small to call a waterfall. Cole Carlson, Brad, Seth Haws and Zac Willardsen stand at the top of it.

Pretty soon we encountered the first waterfall. In order to continue up the stream, we needed to find a way around it. This involved climbing up the sandstone-lined bank with some tricky footing. From left to right, Kyle Wright, Zac, Craig Wright, Kevin Wright and Cole climb up the sandstone.

Tyler Puchalski and Scott Foley stand at the top of the first waterfall.

Not too far distant, we encountered the second waterfall, probably the prettiest of the three waterfalls we encountered. This also required a scramble to get around it, and although the scramble was longer than around the first waterfall, it was easier.

Rodney Nelson, Pete Nelson and Brian Hartman stand at the top of the second waterfall, giving perspective on its height.

We encountered a number of seeps (spots where the water comes out of the canyon wall) along the way, but most were not as large as this one below. Usually the seep was accompanied by moss, hanging gardens and discolored rock from the regular flow of water.

The third waterfall was the easiest to get around initially, but had a rock jam behind it.

Craig and Kevin Wright and Chase Renick in front of the third waterfall.

The jumble of rocks behind the third waterfall was greater than when I was last here. Below, Scott Foley jumps between boulders.

The boys continue to make their way through the boulder filled stream area.

We eventually reached Coyote Natural Bridge. The difference between an arch and a natural bridge is that an arch is primarily weather-formed, while a natural bridge is primarily water- formed. The stream flows under the natural bridge and obviously eroded the sandstone to create the natural bridge.

Below, the group hikes underneath Coyote Natural Bridge, as seen from the other side.

Tyler and Rodney stand above some weirdly eroded sandstone in the streambead where the channeled sandstone creates smaller streamlets.

More interesting erosion of the sandstone is seen below.

The same area, with a closer view of the area near the large boulder, where the water has cut down through the sandstone to make a twisted passageway. Robby and Brian Hartman stand behind.

An even closer look at the water passageway beneath the large boulder.

We finally reached Jacob Hamblin Arch, our destination, about 5 1/2 miles from camp, about 1:15 a.m. Jacob Hamblin was a Mormon missionary with a reputation for fair dealings with the Indians. Jacob Lake, in Arizona, is also named after him. In contrast to Coyote Natural Bridge, the stream does not flow through Hamblin Arch, but rather makes a wide course around it.

The center of the Arch contains a jumble of rocks still much higher than the streambed around it.

To get to the other side of Hamblin Arch takes quite a long walk in a wide loop around it, beneath a very high overhanging wall. At the other side of the Arch, the stream takes another loop, although not nearly as large as the loop around the Arch. The photo below is of the Arch from the other side.

For some perspective on the size of the Arch, look at the picture below to the right side. Pete Nelson and Brian Hartman are sunning themselves on a large boulder and there are some other boys to the right.

The picture below shows the boys in the stream, skipping rocks in the water. Beyond them you can see the stream as it enters its loop around the Arch and the high overhanging sandstone wall that shades the stream during its loop.

On our way back, several of us stopped at a seep just beyond Hamblin Arch for some water. Robby Hartman, below, fills his bottle with fresh water from the seep.

On our way back, at a different seep not too far above camp, we found icicles hanging on the sandstone. This was mid-afternoon. At this point it did not feel cold enough to preserve the ice, but the icicles were in the shade.

Back at camp, after the 10 1/2 mile hike, Kyle, Tyler, Rodney and Scott Zollinger relax in or near the stream.

Brian Hartman and his grandfather, Paul Hartman, make a dinner of mashed potatoes and gravy.

A future post will feature the last day of our trip, including the trek back up through Crack-in-the-Wall and our visit to Peek-a-Boo and Spooky slot canyons.


  1. Wow Dad I'm really jealous - - fantastic pictures! I'm glad to have been there with you before.

  2. Amazing adventure! So was the entire hike close to 21 miles? For the waterfalls you showed, how did you get down them (sorry I missed that)..some you say you went around, but did you have to climb down some? This route looks technical for a newbie to hiking like me!

    1. It has been long enough ago since I did it I'm not familiar with the mileage any longer. I will say that it is some of the most wild and beautiful country in the U.S. and worth whatever it takes to get there. As far as technical, you can find a way to get around or through it.