Capitol Reef National Park and the Waterpocket Fold provided another great two weeks of day hiking and back packing. We’ve been through the region many times and continue to find fantastic new adventures to enjoy.
Captiol Reef National Park encompasses the geologic uplift feature known as the Waterpocket Fold. The Fold runs North-South for about 100 miles. The park headquarters and visitor center is at the Northern end in Fruita, UT. The Southern end of the Fold terminates into Lake Powell near the Bullfrog Marina and Halls Crossing.
Departing town the second week of October, we spent the next 6 days in the backcountry of the National Park near Fruita. Multiple day hikes into new canyons and routes and a one night-two day backpacking mission. We had intended two nights out, but lack of water turned us back. We had been in the area a few times before and all the normally prolific potholes were dry. The area normally receives about 3″ of rain for August-October. This year the last rain had been 0.3″ on August 1st. Dry.
We left Fruita and drove over Boulder Mountain to Boulder, UT. We spent a night with friends after a sweet afternoon hike right out of their back door. In the morning we headed down the Burr Trail for our next outing.
The Halls Creek Narrows is a fairly popular destination for overnight hikers. We had been in and around the 3 mile section of narrows several times but had not yet actually been through the narrows. The timing seemed right. Reliable water and late enough in the season for solitude. We drove the van on high clearance road a number of miles beyond the standard trail head and accessed Halls Creek by a lesser used route. The narrows were super cool, a couple of waist-shoulder deep and cold sections to negotiate. Beautiful fall colors and no one but us in the area.
We returned by a little to never traveled route recommended and scouted by our friend in Boulder. Remote and complex slickrock terrain. Careful and diligent navigation required. Due to lack of water we headed up onto the slickrock with 5 liters each. That got us through a night and the next long day before dropping back into Halls Creek at the uppermost water for our final camp.
In the morning we climbed back up and out of Halls Creek to the van. We drove back out the high clearance and onto the chip seal and headed towards the Bullfrog Marina. We had thoughts of taking the Ferry across Lake Powell to Halls Marina. It has not been open for years due to the low lake level. The website, electronic signs on the highways near Hanksville and Boulder, and even on the road heading down to the Marina, all said Ferry Open. We got down there and were told the Ferry had been broken and not operating for the past month.
No big deal, we are used to driving around past Ticaboo and crossing back over to our side of the river at Hite. As we headed North the van started to have trouble shifting. That rapidly progressed to unable to shift at all, bad bearing noise and burning clutch smell. Barely got off the road and now disabled. Getting dark, no traffic and no cell service. We used our Garmin InReach satellite communicator to text a friend who called AAA for us.
Two tows and two days later the van was in Grand Junction and we were back in Telluride. The bad news – the all wheel drive Transaxle was smoked. We had some very good luck immediately before and after the problem but it’s still an expensive repair.
The van is a unique vehicle and there is really nothing else like them. It fits our needs perfectly. Apparently only about 2,400 Westfalia Syncros were ever imported to the US. The Syncro takes the excellent VW Westfalia camper van to another level. Higher clearance, independent 4 wheel suspension, all wheel drive, manual differential lock, skid plates under all the important components. We’re getting the Transaxle rebuilt and plan to be back in action well before spring.
As always, thanks for reading our trip report. You can see a short collection of the best photos from our trip Here.