Map Miles: Today: 24.1/ Total: 163.4
GPS Miles: Today: 24/ Total: 178.7
Today’s Miles Sponsored by: Betty & Bill, Dick & Debbie
Didn’t sleep well last night. Just as I was going to bed my sinus-ear pressure suddenly went on the fritz. Every time I would roll there would be a super painful shifting of fluid or air or whatever it is – particularly in my left ear. During the hiking today both ears would build pressure and then release at random. Super uncomfortable.
That said, The morning hiking went by super quickly. Everything on trail and easy to follow. It was actually kind of eerie. The sky never really got light- just stayed a dark greyish color. There was no wind. No birds. No tumbling rocks. Just silence. Like the quiet before it all breaks loose. Very ominous.
Dark Canyon is completely encompassed by the newly designated Bears Ears National Monument and it’s exciting to be exploring some of it, especially with all the controversary surrounding the designation. The canyon itself had a unique look to it. The walls were more of a dark reddish color but were punctuated with lots of green from the vegetation.The trail didn’t follow the wash, but rather went through each of the spits of land between the twists and turns of the canyon. At first these started off pretty flat, but as the canyon began closing in the spits started getting steeper and steeper to go up and down. As the canyon continued to narrow, water appeared for the first time too! First in small pools and then as a continuously flowing creek which the trail kept flipping across- except for the one spot that necessitated going through. I tried so hard to keep my feet dry! There was lots of vegetation too, and many trees covered in debris from flash floods.
I had a cold lunch by the confluence with Youngs Canyon, where the guidebook trail rejoins. And from there it was an awesome hike through the rest of the canyon. The walls were narrow enough now that we tended to stay on one side or the other usually a ledge or two above the creek. It was pretty nifty walking!
There were also lots of flowers in this section! More than I’ve really seen all trail!
The expected rain did finally show up, but only for about 15 minutes. Long enough for me to test a new system to keep my sleeping mat dry though- I wrapped it in my rainfly- worked great!
I loved skipping back and forth down the canyon ledges and staring up at the massive walls above. Eventually the path led up and out of the canyon on the Sundance “Trail”. I put trail in quotes because I don’t know if I’d actually call it one. It’s basically a 1200 foot scree field that happens to have a couple cairns here and there.
I began the climb up at about 6:30pm expecting it to be my final thing of the day. I was startled, literally, by two folks heading down the “trail” into the canyon floor. So late! On this trail! Of all places. I finally reached the top around 7:30pm and the climb was definitely worth it.
With night closing fast I found the first ok campsite I could. It was slopey, and there ended up being a plant in my vestibule but it wasn’t bad. My feet were definitely glad for the rest.