First Time on The Toadstool Hike

Saturday night we experienced our first big storm in Utah and it was a doozy. High winds, lightning, and rain combined to make a serious little squall and I had to say I was a little nervous.  We had positioned ourselves up on the cliff rather than down on the beach itself and we saw lots of people moving away from the sandier shore when the storm was coming.  Relatively easy to move quickly in a Class A or Class C but since it was evening and it takes us longer to hitch we decided to ride it out.  And it turned out to be OK for us, although I had this fear the wind would push us over into the deep ravine next to us.  Lee and I talked about it a little bit, but he felt pretty confident we would be OK, because, well, physics.

I have to say I really wish I would have taken physics in high school and college, because unlike calculus, physics related questions do come up rather frequently in life.  I am sure there is a formula for how much wind it would take to push us over, and I would love to be able to do the math ourselves. I found a formula online, but have no idea if it is accurate, but it sounds good. We should probably have Bill do the math and see what he thinks!

V = SQRT(W*b/{0.00666*l*(h-h2/2)*(h/2+h2/4)})

where
V = wind speed, mph
W = trailer weight, lbs
b = trailer width (tire center-center), ft
l = trailer length, ft
h = trailer height (from ground), ft
h2 = tire height, ft

I also found a study done by Thomas W. Schmidlin and Barbara O. Hammer of Kent State University called “Wind Speeds Required to Upset Vehicles” where they concluded that a stationary high profile vehicle could be flipped with 95 mph wind.  This study was primarily about tornado winds and is an older study, but sounded about right to me.  The thing is though that I know lots of people who pull their slides in during heavy winds, but we have only done that once and I am not sure what effect (if any) having the slides out would have.  Most people pull in their slides because they have slide toppers to worry about in high winds, but we intentionally didn’t buy those and I have to say I am really glad we didn’t.  We rarely stay in places where we are under heavy tree cover, and except for one brief stint in the Redwoods have never felt their lack.

Anyway, I am going down a rabbit hole here.  The main point is it was a somewhat brief but turbulent storm and we rode it out just fine thankfully.  One thing that was was really unusual though is the smell the rain produced.  The hills and sand here are red because of heavy iron content and that smell was really strong right before and right after the storm.  I’ve never smelled anything quite like it, and since it was dark by the time the storm passed we couldn’t see the impact on the sand until the next morning.  That also turned out to be just fine.  The sand was definitely softer in places, and we probably wouldn’t have driven far on dirt roads, but it wasn’t the muddy mess I was worried about.  And since it turned out to be a brilliant blue sky day we decided to go ahead and do the Toadstool Hike.

The Toadstool Hike trailhead is right off of 89 and is roughly in the middle between Kanab and Page.  It is a 1.5 mile round trip hike, up to a plateau with Toadstool shaped rocks.  Since our friend Cori had recommended the hike I was eager to go, but once again I underestimated how rough the terrain would be, and left my hiking poles at home.  The trip started out OK, with a relatively big parking lot and a nice flat walk to the toadstools which we could see in the distance.  The problem was the initial trail was a little washed out and although walking on the dirt was just fine we weren’t 100% which way to go and ended up veering right when we should have stayed to the left.  That little walk was actually really pretty (the colors really popped after the storm washed the dust off of things the previous night), but we kept moving away from where I knew the rocks were, and after about a half mile I told Lee I wasn’t going any further in that direction and we had to turn around.

The view from the trailhead

 

Rocks we saw on the wrong path

 

This formation was up on a cliff and absolutely stunning

Once we got back to the left we found what we thought was the path and started watching for trail markers.  There are more of them the closer you get to the Toadstools, but in the beginning it was still a bit confusing.  Plus the path is quite a bit steeper than I expected, staying out of the wash (which was good because it was a little muddy), but also going up and down several little hills.  Finally we turned a corner and could clearly see the major toadstool formation and we saw the steepish climb that was required at the end. At this point I was more tired than I expected to be and was dreading that climb a little bit, but since we saw many people older than us walking the trail, I took a few deep breaths and we kept going.

 

We found this trail marker and started really paying attention to the arrows

 

The cliffs on our left were beautiful

 

That reddish rock in the top middle was where we were headed

 

Once we reached the top though it was totally worth it.  The toadstools were indeed really cool, but we actually enjoyed the cliff walls even more.  There were huge shallow areas that had been carved by the wind, and they reminded me of pictures I had seen of Egypt with similar spaces that had giant statues in them. We ended up spending a long time up on the plateau and loved every minute of it.  Coming back down was much easier than going up had been and we both agreed it was totally worth it.

Main toadstool formation

 

The cap

 

I climbed up on the rocks and Lee took a picture

 

There was another smaller set of toadstools behind the first one which I loved and we weren’t fighting crowds to take a picture

 

The plateau with a beautiful rock formation in the distance

 

Lee of course had to walk over there

 

And then right up the path to the top.  It was beautiful, but I decided to pass on the last little bit because it looked a little narrow for me.

 

Really amazing cliff walls

 

Our favorite was this heart shaped one which we walked inside

 

Looked up to see the ledges

 

And found this little rock couch inside the cave

 

I really loved the entire time we spent up there, because you really couldn’t take a bad picture.  I do wish I would have brought my hat though because it was full sun and was warm in those areas where the wind was blocked.  I have rarely seen Lee that happy.  He was climbing on rocks, getting way too close to the edge (in my opinion), and we took over 400 pictures.  It was just the type of interactive nature that we both love, and was a great hike for that reason if not for the trail itself.

Lee walking down to these circular rocks

 

Me sitting in the front middle to give you scale. Although there were other people there the place was so big we often felt alone as you can see by the distance of the group of four walking in the background

 

I was in full on photographer mode and Lee was having such a good time he didn’t mind me constantly taking his picture.

 

One of Lee’s favorite formations were these “elephant toes”.  If you scroll in on the picture the look on his face is blissful.  That’s not a common expression for him.

 

And look at his smile when he found this huge rock chair.  So cute.

The way back was much easier, because we knew where we were going and we paid more attention to the trail signs.  I really recommend this hike (just stay to the left) especially if you want to spend a little time in Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument but don’t have a ton of time.

The view on the way back was really nice and the color of the hills really popped after the rain.

 


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9 thoughts on “First Time on The Toadstool Hike

  1. Very nice job on the video clip! Seems like a calming and peaceful area. We did hurricane sustained winds at 70 mph in a 24 foot lite travel trailer once in NC, and again in SE AL in a 30′ 5th wheel. To us, the bigger threat was trees. Interesting on the physics involved, and would make an interesting “project” to look at it.

  2. Thanks for the awesome picture’s and video’s on this whole amazing trip you’ve been on! Our Grand Canyon trip was amazing and I didn’t think there could be anything on the same scale as that, but this is definitely up there and is going on my bucket list!!! Your writing skills are amazing and you make a person feel like their right there with you in your descriptions, I’m always checking in to see your next adventure, knowing there will be more amazing landscape, seen through your and Lee’s camera lens.Your background music is perfect and goes along nicely with the views! Question, have you seen many snakes or scorpions on the trails, and do they allow dogs on some of the trails? Thanks again Tracey and Lee for another great ” First Time” !

    • Thanks Jamie that was very nice of you and much appreciated. We haven’t seen any snakes or scorpions at all which has been awesome although I am sure they are out here. Funny you would mention dogs. We were at Dead Horse state park today and there were tons of dogs on the trails. Not in the National parks of course, but anywhere else we have been BLM or Federal land they are definitely allowed.

      • Thank you, this is great sounding for us, as we travel with 4 small fur babies. We fence them in around our travel trailer, and never leave them alone. I’ve been mapping out your travels in Utah and am getting pretty excited about our trip when the time comes. Again, Thank You!!

  3. Now you’ve got me SMILING while I take notes:o))) What an amazing day and Lee…I can feel your JOY!!! Great photos!!! Can’t believe how huge everything is…your photos really help to give us some perspective.

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