Trip Report: Cedar Breaks National Monument Car Camp

Cedar Breaks National Monument Car Camp
By Aaron* Jones
HIKE 08/12/2021 MOD

August 12 and 13 were to be the premier nights. The Astronomical Calendar pointed those out as the prime evenings for the annual Perseids meteor shower which is clearly one of the year's best. It also indicated that this year there would be no moon to steal the show. Wow! Sometimes opportunity knocks and sometimes it beats down the door. Instantly I booked two campsites at Cedar Breaks National Monument. Perseids meteor shower, no moon, and an International Dark Sky Park. It was a perfect trifecta.

Gretchen and Michelle were the first to arrive. I showed up a little later and the three of us hiked on the sublime Alpine Pond Trail. Paul, Yi, and June arrived, and we all had the pleasure of meeting lifetime WMC members Dave and Penney Smith who had been staying there for a while. The time of the day called for Happy Hour and Paul showered us with enormous quantities of Costco snacks and similar amounts of good will and humor. Later, as the night set in we were off to catch the meteor shower but, the all too cloudy sky let us know that tonight was not our night.

The next morning most of the group hiked the Ramparts trail that leads to spectacular viewpoints groves of Bristlecone Pine and with some luck the company of marmots and pikas. That evening Paul provided an excellent dinner of Masala and I read a few pieces of poetry by Gary Snyder, the Thoreau of the beat movement. Once more we searched out an open space for skygazing and once more the clouds owned the night.

On Saturday the plan was to seek out some unusual adventures in the Duck Creek area. The Mammoth Cave lava tube sounded intriguing but, once we lowered ourselves in the opening the low ceiling appeared suitable only for small children and contortionists. Nevertheless, June and Paul tunneled through the darkness to emerge from another entrance. The rest of us explored the surrounding area until we saw the two of them pop out of nowhere. Next, we sought out an ice cave and once more the two intrepid adventurers went in while the rest of us declined. The entrance to cave requires hanging on to a weathered rope and my trust in such arrangements is similar to my belief in fairies and leprechauns. A third waypoint finally brought us to a trail that does not require the skills of spiderman. A short but very pleasant hike took us to Cascade Falls which provides wonderful views of Zion National Park. Unfortunately, the falls had become the victim of a serious drought and global warming. After exploring the beauty of the area, we crossed over to the other side and landed in the town of Duck Creek whose entire economy seemed fueled by behemoth ATVs and their supportive services. While in town I encountered one of those all too common "doodle" dogs. At the campground, on the trail, and now in the town there was one more such creature leading me to believe that poodles are exceptionally promiscuous canines.

We left town without any misgivings of cutting short our visit and leaving the ATVs and doodles behind. A rainstorm came up and everyone retired for a nap and to get out of the weather. Once it cleared up, we headed to Brianhead for dinner and afterwards Paul, always the skillful social director engaged us in a card game of UNO. It was a great pastime until dark when we once more sought out the evasive meteor shower. Again, clouds ruled the night. The only meteors I saw were in dreams after a disappointing round of sky viewing. However, the trip was like a dream come true. We enjoyed nature, good exercise, fun and friendship. It was everything a WMC trip should be.

Participants: Michelle Couderu, Aaron Jones, Paul Kikuchi, Yi Qu, Gretchen Siegler, June Wang.