Last March (2015) I demanded a do-over of a canyon for two reasons. I really wanted to show it to my husband, and I wanted to visit a geographic feature that had eluded me before. Some call it the Cosmic Ashtray, some argue this is a derogatory name, an ashtray is a dirty thing, so it also goes by the Escavolcano, the Cosmic Navel, the Islomania Dome, etc. Regardless, the landmark is intriguing to say the least, and I'm not into arguing over semantics. Personally, I think there are landmarks all over the world with derogatory names, none of which I see any reason to change, but I prefer the Cosmic Navel for this because it just sounds sexier. And sexy is exactly what I think the desert is.
The first trip was back in late October of 2012. It was a combination trip, being in complete awe with the slot and utter frustration with members of the group, something I'm kind of ashamed of but have to admit it's true.
Because visiting both the slot in Red Breaks and the Cosmic Navel makes for a super long day, we left our younger kids at home and brought our teenager and some adult friends.
The first day we drove down the Hole in the Rock Road to set up camp near Harris Wash and then weighed our options. We really wanted to see Zebra slot but according to the data we had, we were a little short on time for that so we went to the nearby Big Horn canyon to check out some striping in the west fork. This didn't disappoint at all. The stripes resembled bacon and the curves were beautiful. It was a short section but pretty perfectly suited for our time frame and at least letting us climb around a bit on the sandstone. Only drawback was a dead cow in the wash we happened by.
We rendezvoused with one last member of our party and headed back to camp for the night.
In the morning we started on the Red Breaks route. I was beyond thrilled to be doing this slot again and I seriously can't wait to take my younger kids! It is so beautiful and so tight and so red and so secluded. It is full of challenging stemming and up climbs and beautiful surprise turns and everything.
We made it through much faster than I had last time, and even though it demonstrated our competence, and no confusion this time at the forks about how to get into the Big West Fork, I was sad that it was already over when the canyon opened back up.
Nevertheless we were on our way to the Cosmic Navel. This time I had even loaded the GPS points, I just let 2 others in the group take charge of navigating though I had a pretty good idea of how to head there.
It was still difficult. Two guys watching their waypoints and route finding and still we had to backtrack a few times to find a more suitable route over various fingers. I knew we would make it, but I started having concerns about if it would really pay off or not. We had to cross 3 other minor canyons, but were trying not to have to get too far down in them so we didn't have to climb back out. All of the hiking was over slickrock so there were lots of beautiful viewpoints and a few steep climbs, a few sandy areas.
Then we found a complete surprise. We saw a pool. A pothole filled up with water and it wasn't all murky and bug-filled and stinky as can be common in places that don't get much rain. It looked so refreshing. We walked down to it and most of us promptly jumped right in. Cold, but seriously, it ranks among the most perfectly-timed hiking discoveries of my life. I felt amazing after my dip and we were all ready to continue our search for the Cosmic Navel.
I don't think it was too much longer after this. We came into a big bowl that was very wide and open and then one more climb up and we were looking down into the Cosmic Navel. Larger than I imagined, and totally tucked away unless you're right on top of it.
We got right down into it thanks to some Moki steps. Full of fine sand, the big rock outcrop in the middle, a tiny tiny little puddle on one edge of the circle. The sun was coming down. It was warm, my heart was warm, I wanted to stay there forever. I want my bones to rest there when I die. I seriously felt full of peace and love. I wouldn't have minded having a few private minutes with Tyler there to be honest.
But eventually we had to get back. An uneventful walk on an old sandy road led us back to camp and a night of relaxing, crackling fires, and more.
I seriously can't wait to re-visit the Cosmic Navel. I would love to bring my kids there and also they would love the Red Breaks Slot but overall they're still to small for so many miles. I'd also love to go up the Big West Fork and come down the technical Main Fork sometime too to see that.
The final day of our trip we took everyone through the Peekaboo and Spooky Gulch loop. It was the first time for many of them and though I broke my rule of "not doing something kids can do with me on my adult trip" (my kids love Peekaboo / Spooky) it was still a total blast. Very scenic slots with a great arch, and very tight spots. I was a little sad for a couple in front of us that turned around when the first pothole in Peekaboo Gulch had a little muddy water in it. They didn't want to get muddy but they seriously missed out on a great hike.
This trip was too perfect--good thing Tyler had forgotten our tent poles, otherwise, I would be deeply superstitious of the perfection on this trip.