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Dance Hall rock | by oldmantravels
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Dance Hall rock

Another piece of history. Spirits were high when a tough group of Mormon pioneers were camped about a mile from this rock at a place known as forty mile springs. It was 1878 and they were on their way (families in wagons) to hopefully cross the Colorado River and homestead in the San Juan River region.


They held dances in this rock amphitheater - and if you close your eyes you can almost hear the fiddle music echoing off the rock and the clapping of hands in time with the music.


But when their scouts returned with the news of the steep cliffs and seemingly impossible way forward, the mood quickly changed.


With strong leadership and a dedicated group on a "mission" they all made it and lowered wagons, kids, horses, and livestock down the Hole In the Rock. After crossing the Colorado they had tremendous challenges getting the wagons through the next portion of their route. They made it to present day Bluff, Utah where they settle before a flood drove many of them elsewhere. For some excellent historic photos and a narrative on their story read: "The Incredible Mission" by Lamont Crabtree.


I left my Ecalante, Utah motel room (The circle D) at 5 am (Washington time) and made it the 52 miles of bone jarring miles on the Hole In The Rock road by around 7:45 am.


At 8 am, parked below fiftymile point, I shouldered my day pack and heaed N.E. cross country well back from the side canyons of Davis Gulch (to avoid contant detours).


I followed rock outcroppings to the cairn marking the way down into Davis Gulch. There is brush and beaver dams along the floor of Davis Gulch and I decided it would take me too long to hike down into the canyon; up to Bements arch; then retrace my route.


So, I decide to take a leisurely hike along the west rim of Davis Gulch and view and photograph it from the canyon rim. The slickrock hiking was a pure pleasure compared to the soft sand hiking I had done on the way in.


My motivation for this hike was historic as much as a desire for scenic desert beauty in a remote location.


The stories of Buzz Holmstrom; the disappearance in the Grand Canyon of Bessie and Glenn Hyde on a sweep boat trip down the Colorado River in 1928; and the disappearance of a young romantic and artist named Everett Ruess in November of 1934 in Davis Gulch - - have always fascinated me. I wanted to see where their stories took place.


The hike along the rim was wonderful and when I got back to my pickup truck below fiftymile point it was actually a warm day for November. I had an ice chest full of cold IBC root beer waiting for me at the truck.


I didn't look forward to the 52 mile rough washboard road route back out, but I took it slow.


Then over halfway back I ran into a young couple from Holland who had buried their rental vehicle in the soft sand of the Spooky canyon road.


Working hard together we were able to free their rental pickup truck in about an hour of hard work. They were a really nice young couple and it felt good to be able to help them out.


I made it back to my motel room a little after dark, quite tired and content. The next day I left before sunrise and made it back to my wife and home in Eastern Washington by 9:30 Sunday night. OMT


Here are three books that I highly recommend if you want a sense of the fascinating history of the Colorado and Escalante River area:


THE DOING OF THE THING by Welch, Conley and Dimock.



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Taken on November 15, 2008