ST. GEORGE – Time travel is possible if you travel the same trails once traveled by the early settlers. It’s technically traveling through the time of those before you.
Hiking 3 miles down the Chinatown Wash with the Outback Hiking Club on March 18 gave view to a hidden valley behind the city of Hurricane. Settlers from the 1890s came the the valley to camp out and work on a 7 1/2 mile canal for the city’s agricultural purposes.
Over 300 men, working eight-hour days for $2, built the Hurricane Canal. The early settlers camped in the valley closely surrounded by mountains.
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Videocast by Sarafina Amodt, St. George News
“People named it Chinatown because it kind of looked like Chinatown” said Terry Swanson, Outback Hiking’s leader for the hike.
The story goes that one day a group of Toquerville girls visited the Chinatown camp and together the workers and the girls shared peach pie, perhaps explaining Hurricane’s renown for peaches even today.
By the winter of the 1900s only a few men, as few as seven or eight, worked on the canal to the end; the project started in 1893 and was completed in 1904.
When hiking this trail, either on foot or horseback, remember to take your hat and wear your sunscreen. Don’t forget to pack some water as this is a very dry trail. There is no real incline to this trail, which makes it easy on your knees, but when stepping over large loose rocks and trekking through soft sand it’s a bit harder on your ankles.
The fact that this isn’t a commercialized man-made trail makes it all the more worth the trek because it is secluded. Most of the 10 hikers joining the the Outback Hiking Club hike were retired or close to retiring and had no difficulty.
This trail makes for a great family outing for all ages. Parents don’t have much to worry about when the child or dog runs up ahead because there really isn’t much of a way out of the riverbed. The walls of the riverbed are tall making it a nice one-way in-and-out trail.
The hiker’s reward is the overlook at the end of the trail, which offers spectacular views of an area that is very important to Hurricane’s history.
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