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The two RV Gypsies hiked the Hickman Bridge Trail
to see the Natural Bridge.

August 15, 2012

Hickman Bridge sign
Hickman bridge Trail sign
Lee Duquette on the trail to the natural bridg

At the beginning of the trail is the Fremont River which is central to both the topography and human history preserved in the park. The erosive action of the river and its tributaries continues today, especially during floods. For almost 2,000 years, the river has sustained agricultural communities on the arable land near its confluence with Sulphur Creek.

the Freemont River
the Freemont River

Behind the two RV Gypsies is Capitol Dome, which resembles the Capitol building in Washington DC. The other part of Capitol Reef's name derives from a regionally common use of the nautical term, reef, to identify steep ridges that are barriers to transportation.

Karen Duquette and Capitol Dome
The two RV Gypsies and Capitol Dome

The trail continues up and around the red cliffs shown below.

Hickman Bridge trail

Some of the trail is rocky, and most of it is steep.

Hickman Bridge trail panorama

The trail was not a very straight trail, and often near a drop-off.

Hickman Bridge trail
scenery from Hickman Bridge trail
black boulders
Hickman Bridge trail
scenery
natural carving
panorama

The natural carving in this giant boulder is said to resemble an angel.

angel carving
angel carving

These black boulders consist of the same andesite lava that caps the flat-topped mountains west of the park. They were transported here (and rounded in the process) by large debris flows from the flanks of the peaks. The debris flows were associated with the melting of high elevation glaciers in very recent geologic time.

black boulders
black boulders

These plants conserve moisture in unique ways and provide for for animals today. In the past, they provided nourishment and medicine for man. Ephedra or Mormon tea is abundant here on the west side of the trail.

plants on the trail
vegetation

The Fremont people knew how to make use of desert plants. The Yucca provided material for mats, baskets, rope, nets, food and shampoo. The sharp tips made good needles.

Yucca plant

The path led the two RV Gypsies through a wash, so-called because water washed through here during storms. Between rains, the sand acts as an insulator to limit evaporation and enough sub-surface moisture is retained to support large trees and shrubs.

a wash
Karen Duquette on the natural arch trail

Below is the remains of a pithouse foundation. The prehistoric Fremont people inhabited the Capitol Reef area making their homes in pithouses between 300 and 1300 C.E.

pithouse foundation
pithouse foundation

The remains of a pithouse foundation can be identified by the ring of black boulders.

pithouse foundation
pithouse foundation
scenery
scenery
Karen Duquette on the trail
Hickman Bridge trail
Hickman Bridge trail scenery
Hickman Bridge trail
Hickman Bridge trail
big boulders with holse and markings

The Hickman Natural Bridge is 133 feet long and 125 feet high. The feature was named after Joseph Hickman, who was a local school administrator and Utah legislator. Hickman was an early advocate for this area which he called Wayne Wonderland.

The Hickman Natural Bridge
Karen Duquette and The Hickman Natural Bridge

The Kayenta Formation consists of hard beds alternating with much softer layers. The bridge is firm sandstone, while the trail is friable red shale which crumbles easily. During wetter times, water coursed down behind the fin into which the bridge was cut and eroded the soft shale until it broke through. Subsequent erosion enlarged the span. The trail passes under the bridge and turns left.

Karen Duquette and The Hickman Natural Bridge
Karen Duquette and The Hickman Natural Bridge
Karen Duquette and The Hickman Natural Bridge
Karen Duquette and The Hickman Natural Bridge
Karen Duquette and The Hickman Natural Bridge
Karen Duquette and The Hickman Natural Bridge
Karen Duquette and The Hickman Natural Bridge Natural arch
Karen Duquette and The Hickman Natural Bridge Natural arch
Karen Duquette and The Hickman Natural Bridge Natural arch
the two RV Gypsies
the two RV Gypsies
scenery
the natural arch

People under the arch gives a better perspective of the size of the arch.

People under the arch
Karen Duquette under the arch

Karen Duquette took a break in a rare shady spot on the trail back. Most of the trail was exposed to the sun and it was a hot day.

Karen taking a break on the trail back

Capitol Reef National Park - MENU (TOC - Table of Contents)

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1. Capitol Reef National Park (2 pages)

2. Burr Trail Road

3. Hickman Bridge Trail and the Natural Bridge 133 feet long and 125 feet high

4. Goosenecks Point

5. Wonderland RV Park

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