Moab Happenings Archive
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Heeding the Call of the Canyon Wren: Lower Courthouse Wash
by Kathy Grossman

On my own mission one winter years ago, I joined Trail Mix as they crafted mountain bike trails which became the Intrepid Trail System. We’d worked in cold, sleet, and fog thick as meringue. These trails were named after Intrepid Potash, a mine whose solar evaporation ponds can be seen from the park’s eastside overlooks. Blue dye is added to better absorb the sunlight. The ponds get shallower and shallower, turning lighter shades of blue as the potash precipitates out of the solution. Rail cars then haul away the crystalline potash from the pond bottoms.

This southern leg of the East Rim Trail is mostly flat and easy to follow. The crisp temperatures, the gorgeous rolling clouds, and occasional sun dramatized views from the Basin Overlook, The Neck, and then Dead Horse Point Overlook itself. Our trip was an out-and-back, but you can also drive to this overlook by a roughly parallel road, or hike to the point and return via shuttle.

In addition to the park’s camping spaces, you can rent a yurt (a Central Asian circular dwelling of poles wrapped in felt or canvas). My hiking companion had indeed stayed at one of the park’s yurts, commenting that it was fabulous to walk right out of her accommodation to start a painting of the wondrous view.

After a morning spent driving and hiking, I was about ready for some cowboy coffee myself, but happily settled for hot chocolate from the Visitor Center’s Keurig machine. I also imagined myself gratefully snuggling down in the cow camp exhibit’s bedroll for a nap, happy for this stunning park and an athletic and uncrowded day.

Rock Panel Info by Kathy Grossman
Watercolor painting of the Courthouse Wash Panel by Kathy Grossman

Kathy Grossman is a writer and hiker who doesn’t know much about horses but lives with someone who does. In Moab since 2011, she also spent eight years in Carlsbad, New Mexico, another area known for potash mining.

Kathy Grossman
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