In 2021 my wife and I bought a new camp trailer with the hopes of traveling a lot while I work from the road. We never made good on those plans, only camping about 10 nights in the new trailer that year. In 2022, however, we got some solar panels and Starlink internet and hit the road for the first of several long trips, eventually spending almost 50 nights in the RV. On this trip we spent 13 days in the Markagunt Plateau area of Utah, and although it rained much of the time and I wasn’t able to hike as much as I’d have liked, I did snag a few county high points and enjoyed seeing a different part of the state.
We drove down on Monday after I got off work. Just before getting to Hatch we stopped in a gravel pit on the side of US-89 and made dinner, then continued on our way. We took Highway 14 past Duck Creek Village and Navajo Lake and found a place to camp on the southern end of Sage Valley. I worked the rest of the week from the trailer. I was worried about how well Starlink would work, and how well the solar panels would keep the batteries charged, but everything went smoothly despite clouds and rain every day. We didn’t get out to explore much except to walk the dogs around the forest roads in the area multiple times a day.
On Friday after work I took the dogs to the highest point in Kane County. We’d actually tried driving there a couple of days earlier but the road was blocked by fallen trees and it was farther from there than Traci wanted to walk. This time she stayed at the trailer and I made the two mile round trip walk with Boulder and Loa. Kane County is one of a few in the state that has both a high point (on a ridge along the county line) and a high peak. This was the high point at 10,125′ elevation.
On Saturday we took the truck to do some sightseeing and stopped in Cedar City to do laundry and buy groceries. We first went to Brian Head, the highest point in Iron County at 11,307′. It was my 18th Utah county high point, and Traci’s second (since it’s an easy drive-up).
Next we drove down Parowan Canyon and stopped to see some petroglyphs there. I hadn’t done any rock art research for the area and wasn’t expecting to find any on this trip, but there is a geocache nearby that mentions the petroglyphs. We jumped on I-15 and stopped in Cedar City. I dropped Traci off at a laundromat while I took the dogs and fueled up the truck then went for a walk along Coal Creek in a city park. I picked Traci up, we did some shopping, then drove back up Cedar Canyon to camp.
Sunday morning I hiked to Andy Nelson Peak, the highest peak in Kane County. It was a longer hike and with much more elevation gain than the high point. I left Traci and the dogs at the trailer and parked the truck near the Navajo Lake Lodge. From there the hike was along a trail most of the way, then a short bit of steep, dense brush and timber to reach the peak. It was about 4.5 miles total with 1,000′ elevation gain/loss. I had also planned on bagging Navajo Peak while I was so close but I wasn’t feeling it, so I just bombed straight back down to the truck.
That afternoon we set out in search of a new place to camp. We took a drive in the truck and found a spot on the north side of Sage Flat less than three miles away. It was a little more wide open and farther from the road (thus more secluded) from the previous camp spot, so we returned to the trailer and had everything packed up in about 30 minutes, then moved and spent another hour setting back up. The rest of the week we didn’t do much, owing to me working and rain falling every day. We did walk around near camp and pick some wild raspberries, which we mixed with some ice cream we’d picked up in Cedar City on Saturday for just that purpose.
I hiked out onto a huge lava field on Saturday. It was something I’d been looking forward to our entire stay, though I was nervous doing it alone. There was a geocache 1.1 miles as the crow flies from the nearest road to an island of trees in the middle of this lava field. It was very slow going hopping on boulders most of the way. I could see the truck and trailer for most of the hike, and I sent periodic messages from my inReach to Traci so she’d know I was okay.
I reached the island in the center and although the uneven ground eased up, the dense timber made things pretty difficult. Finally I reached the highest point at elevation 9,938′ and found the geocache there, chained up to a tree. I signed the log, which in the two years since the cache was placed had only been signed by my friend Jim and one of his geocaching buddies. I hiked roughly the same route back to the truck. The round trip distance ended up being 2.85 miles and it took me four hours to complete.
Sunday was our last day in the area. Traci and I weren’t in any particular hurry to leave. We slept in until the dogs wouldn’t let us stay in bed any longer, then we ate breakfast and began packing up. We headed for home, only stopping a couple of times–once at the Dennis Cemetery south of Marysvale, and again for lunch at a rest area near Deer Creek north of Marysvale. We arrived home late in the afternoon to find that our kids hadn’t burned down the house or starved to death or held any ragers. It was nice to be “home” again but it wouldn’t be long before we left again for another long trip…
Photo Gallery: Markagunt Plateau