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Thursday, December 18, 2014

What Happens When A Cow Gets Stuck In A Spectacular Utah Slot Canyon?

Peak-a-Boo Gulch © Dave Webb
A cow did in fact get stuck in one of our most popular slot canyons and, well, the outcome was horrible for all involved. Especially for the cow.

This blog at SLTrib.com described a “comedy of errors” that began when a cow became stuck in Peek-a-Boo Gulch, part of the very popular Peek-a-Boo/Spooky Gulch loop off Hole in the Rock Road in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

If you planned to go there anytime soon, don't. Visitation is low in winter but some hardy folks still hike in the area. Hopefully, by spring the mess will be cleaned up.

Cattle graze legally throughout much of the national monument, but are prohibited from Peek-a-Boo and other nearby canyons. Somehow the cow wandered into the area and became lodged in a tight spot in the slot.

The rancher was notified and ranch hands made considerable effort to free the valuable animal. But his efforts failed. When they decided the animal was hopelessly stuck they “put it down.” They then “cut off the head and front quarters,” hoping they could carry out the pieces, but the hind quarters “remained wedged in a narrow passage.”

The ranch hands then “piled wood under the carcass and lit it in hopes the flames would consume enough of the cow that it could be pulled out.” That failed and, in the process, rocks and dirt fell into the canyon and partially covered the animal.

National Monument officials are now trying to decide how to get more of the carcass out. Hopefully, they will find a way before the next flash flood hits. Such floods move boulders and could carry the carcass down into the middle of the canyon.

I've hiked Peak-a-Boo many times and it is easy to see how a cow could get stuck. Area ranchers know they need to keep their animals away, but mistakes do occur.

I expect it will be cleaned up soon and hiking conditions will be good come spring.

– Dave Webb

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