Utah Camping and Secret Hardware Brewery

We hitched four rides out of Vail before getting dropped off at a brewery to take a break. Back on the highway a police officer smelled beer on Marilyn's breath and made some threat about a DUI, it seemed nonsensical, but all he really wanted was for us to get off the road.
With luck firmly on our side we managed to get our next ride quickly despite being cast off to the on ramp where fewer vehicles would see us. This ride came from a Czech man driving a school bus with his dog, converted into a camper for his rambling about.

He dropped us at the junction in Cisco, a tiny nothingness of a place where sunset was currently striking as we walked down the nearly deserted road, camping on our minds and thoughts of national parks in the days ahead.

Another stroke of good fortune pulled over, a local guy who knew the area up and down gave us our last ride of the day, letting us out a ways past the proper camping area to a spot where we could make our own private camp spot right along the water in the shadows of a massive red rock wall running along it.

After some camp coffee in the morning we climbed back up to the road and managed to hitch a ride from a trio of climbers that were scoping out the scenery of rock faces, the vast playground that is Utah.

They dropped us off in Moab, we'd been to Arches on a previous trip together, so we didn't stick around to repeat the experience, instead we hitched another ride from a couple heading towards the Grand Canyon, they dropped us off at the entrance to Canyonlands.

A couple climbers took their turn in the hitchhiking relay of our life, letting us hop in the back of the pickup truck as we cruised into the park, pausing just once to get some information and share a voodoo donut with us they'd had since Denver.

We did a loop of campgrounds with them, but we eventually hopped out of their car and got another short ride from a couple down to where the road ended and a hiking trail began, which we saw headed some five miles or to the river confluence.

We got to hiking, a good ways in we darted off the beaten path and made our way up a ravine aiming to find an out of the way place to camp. We struck gold, finding a bit of an open air cave spot with room for the tent and all.

We stashed our bags their and got back to the trail, heading out to go overlook the water. After a peaceful pause their we headed back to our new home and made camp, one of the most silent and still nights there's ever been.

We hiked on out in the morning, the walked along the road hoping for some cars to be about. A ranger gave us a ride, her rifle and shotgun on display, we were careful to not mention that we'd been camping as she seemed to think that would have been against some rules in the park. I asked about the heavy artillery, she seemed hardened and didn't want to get all that deep into it, just brushing on the fact that fugitives and other dastardly sorts often found their way to national parks like this one.

She dropped us at the visitor center where we got cleaned up and refilled water and all this before continuing our walking and thumbing. We scored a ride from a Durango bound guy who got us out of the park and on to a little town where he dropped us off at a cafe.

After some coffee and grub we got our next ride from a local in a Cadillac, then another ride from a woman to the liquor store in the outskirts of town. A ride came next to a gas station on the reservation, then one last ride from a girl to a junction further up.

We made camp for the third straight night, this time finding a spot tucked around a bend along the river. Unlike the night before, this one was full of sounds of critters making their sounds, rustling through the brush against the faint flow of the passing river.

Come morning we were right back on the road, a ride from a woman to the next junction, then in the back of a pickup truck that was picking up and dropping off hitchhikers the whole way down the reservation, finally letting the last of us off when they made their turn.

We walked past the others, finally getting another pickup truck ride up to the next town where we stopped for a snack, then back to the road again, passing yet another couple hitchhikers waiting on heir next lift.

Two more pickup truck rides, a family in a minivan, yet another pickup truck and then a couple to the busy gas station in Gap. From the pickup trucks kept coming, two more until we finally landed ourselves on foot in Page where we had a couchsurfing host lined up as a buffer before heading to Zion.

We met up with him for a beer before heading back to the house for a night, needed showers and good quiet sleep came easy.

We spent the next day in Page kicking around. Our host had mentioned something about a friend with an elaborate home brew setup, I thought he'd said in the backroom of a gallery somewhere in town, but he was at work so I couldn't get the exact details.

We checked a gallery, but found nothing but confused faces, so finally we just stopped at a bar to relax a bit. We asked our bartender there if she knew of anyone homebrewing and she pointed us to the hardware store of all places, saying they had something going in the back.

We walked on over, it was a typical hardware store with employees milling about. One guy seemed the brewing type, a gray haired guy towards the middle of the store.

"Can I help you?", he asked.

"Yeah...", I started, "We heard something about some home brewing..."

He smiled and did a quick scan around, then lead us to a back door and up some stairs to a loft, then through a door with a makeshift brewing sign on it.

Inside he had a fair sized brew setup, bins of malt, a fridge full of yeast and hops, they were good to go. He showed us around and told us how him and a couple others had been brewing there for a while and planned on opening a proper brewery relatively soon. He didn't have any beer ready to drink at the moment, except one big bottle of hefe that he gifted to us.

Back at the house we drank it up and cooked up some dinner, staying in for the night before our coming day on the road.

Our first ride the next afternoon came from some drunks, they were only heading to the store just outside of town with whiskey on their minds.

From there we were right by the Utah border again, we walked right up to the sign and then further past it as we waited on the next ride to come.

That ride came from a very overweight truck driver heading west. He claimed to know he area well and had been driving this part of Utah for years, but clearly he was confused. There was a junction around Kanab where we should have gotten out when he turned left, but instead he turned right and started heading north.

We told him we figured he was going the wrong way, even though he was going our way, as he'd be doing a massive looping detour since trucks can't cut over through the national park roads. He got on his CB radio and was told the same by another trucker, but it seemed that he was just too stubborn to admit his mistake and turn around.

No bother for us, we tried to warn him, but it got us up just a pinch further to Mt Carmel Junction. Unfortunately for us, though, the rain was getting heavier. We slipped into a restaurant and had a slice of pie while waiting out the storm, but it didn't seem like it was going to let up.

At last we just settled on the cheap motel down the road, figuring we'd have an easy night and catch some dry rides in the morning.

We caught a ride in the morning from someone else on holiday, that was after a decent long wait, we'd seen some older woman lingering about and half trying to hitch a ride, waiting for us, being confronted by a younger woman trying to talk her out of it, something was definitely up.

We rolled along though, our ride got us into the park, he stopped frequently to take his pictures, then finally we hopped out to go our own way. A couple in VW bug got us from the junction to the trail head for Angel's landing, a great hike there in Zion I'd done a couple times before.

We stashed our bags and got to climbing the scenic and steep climb. Towards the top the trail is more exposed and steep, a chain was installed for folks to hold on to, but to me it served more as a deterrent to people since it seemed to highlight the potential danger. The couple who'd given us the last ride claimed to have had a relative that fell to their death on this hike, one of the six to have done so on record they said.

These factors added up for Marilyn into a decision to let me go on my own, so I got up to the top and looked out on the view, had my snack, then headed back down to meet her and get back down to our backpacks.

A pickup truck ride got us to the brewery just outside Zion where we paused for a beer and some thoughts about where to next. Some years ago I'd been hiking in the area with some friends, we got lost looking for a particular dome, pyramid looking peak and I figured we could head that way from a different angle.

We got a ride from a woman working in the park to the next town, then from there a ride from a teacher to a road that headed to an ungated back entrance to the park.

We began walking up the road, the dwindling daylight had our eyes set to campsite finding mode. That's when a big maroon school bus rolled up and braked to let us in. There were two semi-retired guys inside, the interior was decked out something fancy, they were carpenters from Maine and had made a proper home of the bus.

They were heading to a familiar campsite to park their bus along the river. We thanked them for the ride and started checking out the area ourselves until we found a proper place to pitch our tent and start a fire for the night.

The two guys biked by in the morning, we joined them later for coffee in the bus before heading back to the road. We got a ride from a couple just up the ways, at this point I was just using my GPS to figure things out, there was no proper trail to the spot I wanted to get to.

We cut through some thick bush and then out into the open, following animal trails and making our own path by way of rock stepping. Finally we go to the side of the climb and got to one section of a rock face we had to get across. The steep rocks had Marilyn in a state of panic, but there was no going back.

Tears and heavy breathing got her across that section, from there we kept going and I would sometimes dart ahead to survey which path would be best for us and not have us falling off a cliff. At one point, still in her panic, I came back to find Marilyn laying on nearly flat ground, clutching the rock for dear life, still in the mindset of steep rocks and unable to realize it. My laughs did not help all that much.

After some more traversing and climbing we finally made it, the top of a dream I'd had those years back. We poked around the top of it, taking in the views and deciding where we could camp.

We found ourselves a nice sandy spot to setup and settled in for the evening, we had an amazing view and a peaceful night.

In the morning we got moving, I found a faster and less intense way to get us down, but still managed to get some panic tears out of Marilyn in one rocky section.

We got a ride back to the main road once we got down, then another woman picked us up there and brought us back to the other entrance to Zion. From there it was a Wisconsin couple into the park until their turn off, then a Vegas couple to the park exit on the other side.

At this point we were Arizona bound and out, on to the next stage of adventure. A ride from another guy got us to Kanab, dropping us off at a Mexican restaurant along with a twenty dollar bill to use there.

We got a few short rides after that with some waiting in between, but we were hoping to make Flagstaff for the night. A ride from another Navajo couple came and we rode with them as it got dark to a further junction.

As we went to pull over so they could let us out there was a guy sitting in his pickup truck paused, "Maybe he's going to Flagstaff!", they said. We kinda thought they were joking, but they pulled up right alongside the guy.

"I don't need any help, I'm OK", the guy said with assumption. Next thing we knew, though, we were in the back of his pickup truck rolling on down towards Flagstaff.

We'd had a nice little run of camping and beautiful hiking through Utah, but now we'd have some time in Arizona and California coming up, on to the next pages of our journey together.

March 21, 2014 to March 29, 2104


  1. Its cool to see a new story.

    Its also funny to realize www.freestyletraveler.com links to this website.


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