map Miles: today: 20.4/ Total: 311
GPS Miles: today: 20/ Total: 335.4
Today’s Miles Sponsored by: Niki
The warm night air continued through the early morning hours as I faded in and out of sleep, listening to the rustling and calls of birds in the cottonwood above me. I got up and did my morning routine and was out to start the day with what turned out to be it’s best part: Halls Creek Narrows.
After following the Creek through the open Valley floor for so many miles yesterday, it suddenly takes a sharp meandary turn for 4.5 miles straight into the cliffs and through some amazing steep walled narrows sections.It was a fantastic way to start the morning. Two hours slowly winding my way under the high cliffs and splashing through the creek when necessary. I passed two tent sites set up on sandy curves right in the middle of the section (though I can’t believe people are still sleeping after it’s light out) Hanging gardens filled in the cracks in the wall high and low. And every now and then the surrounding peaks would be reflected in the stream. I loved watching the tadpoles and small minnows flitter around as my shadow approached.
And then, right towards the end…a short slot. Water filled. After yesterday I was a bit nervous, but had been assured by the hiker yesterday that it was only knee deep.Well, it was a bit deeper than that, but not much. And soon after the stream suddenly returns to the wide open Grand Gulch, as if it had never left. A magical little 2 hour stretch that carried me through the rest of the day….
The rest of the day was not great. I assumed that the next six miles through the Gulch would be nice and easy like the last many before it had been…not the case. The creek bed was now watery and had more meanders, and the spits between the meanders were steeper. The cattle trails came and went and disappeared without notice making them tricky to follow. And all the side washes now were flowing as well, which meant they were thick with brush.Miles that I expected to go by quickly went super slow. The brush grabbed and poked and prodded and switched and scratched. I lost one of my Gatorade bottles to it, and then ran into a random piece of barbed wire in the middle of a section which ripped my pants. I was tired and frustrated and hot when I sat down for lunch, and was then swarmed by flies. That was supposed to be the easy part of the day. Ugh.
I was more than happy to be done with the brush and start my 2000 foot climb up the Waterpocket Fold, but that presented its own challenge as it was now the heat of the day. I took the climb nice and slow, picking a line up the slickrock and enjoyed discovering that the Fold was not as barren as it looked, but was actually teaming with life. Little potholes filled the area, and the cactus were all in bloom:
Half way up I spotted a USGS marker and stopped to take a long break. Enjoying the slight breeze and taking in the views up the Grand Gulch and over to Lake Powell.The climb continued slow and steady, eventually crossing over to the other side and dropping down into Stevens Canyon. At first I thought the canyon was going to be more of the same- sandy bottoms and slow going, but after maneuvering around a few pouroffs I was down on slickrock and the floor was one succession of descending potholes.
The route stayed up on the slickrock ledges above the floor.Soon it dropped back down to the floor which was now an unexpected free flowing creek. Frogs were everywhere and I was watching them jump around and play in the creek and holes. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this canyon! Jut like the Twist it was a very different kind of canyon walking than we’ve done before- up on the rounded dome ledges.
I pushed pretty late, and made a slickrock camp right above the creek. It’s another warm night- no puffy or hat needed. Bag partially unzipped. All in all a good start and a good end- just a long middle. Long day ahead tomorrow- the goal: town.