Capitol Reef II: The Reckoning

Yesterday I mentioned The Tale of the Water Pit, and I know you’ve all been just salivating for it, right?

Brian and I have taken the kids on many hikes, and we’ve never had any major incidents or mishaps, UNTIL . . .

It started out as an ordinary day in Capitol Reef.  We walked through Capitol Wash, and then up a spur trail that leads to the Tanks.

What are the tanks, you say?  These:

They are big pockets in the rock that fill with water.  Ohhhh, you say.  Water tanks.  Right.  They are very important for desert ecology, etc. etc.  And we saw some interesting water gliders in this one.

HOWEVER — the edge of this tank was tricky to walk around, so I decided to stay behind with William while Brian went ahead with everyone else.  And on the way back — eek! — Eleanor fell in!

Right in the deepest part of the water tank.  Which, fortunately, only went up to her waist, but still.  The water was freezing, and it was the halfway point in the trail.  This meant that Eleanor had to hike all the way out of the canyon with wet shoes, socks, and pants.  Poor girl.  She was brave about doing this, but she kept up a steady stream of complaints the whole while.

THEN, right after leaving the dreaded Water Pit of Whine, William began to squirm about in that traditional dance that means a bathroom break is needed.  We found a nearby bush for him to do his business, and right as I managed to get his pants down, he sprayed my arm.  AND got his pants wet.

The tally so far: Two Wet Kids . . . whose clean clothes were all back in the hotel (yeah, hotel.  I don’t camp with newborns, especially with temperature lows in the 20s).

By the time we made it out of the wash, it was 7:30.  We had originally planned to cook and eat dinner at a picnic area in the park, but we couldn’t do that with two wet kids.  We headed back to Torrey, and by the time we had everyone cleaned and changed, it was 8:30, and dark.

There was no microwave in the hotel.  Brian and I couldn’t stomach the idea of cold cuts for dinner after a day of hiking.

The town of Torrey, Utah is small.  Very small.  So small that most restaurants are closed by 8:30.

Except for one.

[insert angelic choir music here]

The fabulous Patio was open until 10:00.  We gratefully ordered a pizza and the kids filled out their Jr. Paleontologist books while we waited.

This is where the story begins to turn around.  For sitting at a nearby table was a pair of women who work as paleontologists for the Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point.

They came over and introduced themselves.  Did our kids like fossils?  Did we know that there was a big fossil field just outside of the park?  Would the kids like some of the fossils they had collected?


The ladies had a big bag of fossilized clamshell-looking things, commonly known as “Devil’s Toenails.”  The kids were THRILLED to have a handful of them, and later in the trip we drove out to find the fossil hill ourselves.

It’s true: a giant pile of fossilized seashells, in the middle of the desert!  Can’t help but wonder what long-ago people thought of them. We collected our own bagful.

Happy ending, happy ending.  Just watch out for those water pits.