Day Twenty-Two: The Straight Cliffs

Map Miles: Today: 8.8/ Total: 340.6

GPS Miles: Today: 8.8/ Total: 364.8

Today’s Miles Sponsored By: Jenn/ Tommy

I’m tired of waking up early in town. I really wanted to get a full night sleep, but my internal clock sometimes just won’t let me. I was awake a tad before 5am, but then I just refused to let my body get up until after 8 am. 

It’s always a little hard to get motivated to leave town.The morning went by quickly finishing postcards and packing and dropping things off at the PO. And then all too soon it was time to make the “I’ll talk to you in a week. I love you” phone calls. 

I stuck my thumb out and in about 15 minutes had my first hitch from the edge of town to Hole in the Rock Road with a lovely British couple who have been road tripping the western USA for the last month.

Into the Grand Staircase!

Hole in the Rock Road actually has a pretty fantastic story. It was built by a group of Mormon pioneers who were sent to settle on the San Juan River. They were told that building a road along the Straight Cliffs would be a nice shortcut down to the Colorado River…except it wasn’t. There was a huge cliff they had to descend, so the party took weeks blasting and preparing the road before lowering the wagons down on 45 degree angled slopes. All the wagons and people made it down safely.

I caught my second hitch almost immediately with a family of 5 from the Bay Area out to hike Spooky Gulch, a very popular local slot canyon. They got me to within 8 miles of my trailhead, and it took another 25 minutes for someone heading further than Spooky to even drive by. But the first car that did picked me up and I was on my way walking a little before 2pm.
Similar to leaving Hanksville, there was a steep climb ahead with the full 7 day pack. Over 2000 feet in midday heat up the Straight Cliffs and over FiftyMile mountain.

The Straight Cliffs looming ahead

I plodded slowly along stopping for drinks and snacks and shade, making it up to the top just after 515pm.

Panoramic view from the top looking East

From the top it was 2 quick miles through some awesome grassy fields to my chosen camp at Mudhole Spring. Now you would think, based on the name that the spring doesn’t sound too promising, but I was shocked when I arrived. It’s in a really fascinating little complex. The complex is fenced in, and includes the spring, a small old cabin and barn, and a grove of beautiful white aspen.

The spring with the Line Shack behind

Horseshoes hanging on the old cabin


The spring itself is also fenced in and piped. The trickle is slow, but the water is good. 

The slow drip into my bottle as I prepare for 30 waterless miles

This is the last good water for the next 30 miles, so I figured since I’d be here for a while making water I might as well camp.

Coyotes were yipping in the distance while I made dinner. It was a nice short day today. Really back into the swing of it tomorrow.


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