An epic and great day…
We had a pleasant start down Swap Canyon on a meandering gravel wash surface. It was cold and windy but warm when the sun hit us. After an hour or so we emerged out of the canyon into colourful views of the waterpocket fold and its multiple pinnacles of rock.
What happens here is that all the colourful layers of sandstone that are usually horizontally stacked on top of one another have tilted upwards. The plateau we were moving over is sloping up. Erosion creates deep canyons full of colour and reflected light- like ‘sleeping rainbows’. After the snow and rain from the past days the desert was blooming. Temperatures were still mild and a fresh wind blew us gently along.
Our route took us onto the dirt road of the Burr trail which zig zagged upwards under huge sandstone walls. Expansive views opened up eastwards back the way we had come to the Henry Mountains.
|Deep alcoves in Lower Muley Twist|
After studying our maps we decided to divert from the Hayduke route again and take an alternate down Halls Creek and Stevens Canyon over the next 2-3 days. It looked scenically fantastic in Stevens (we had visited the lower part of the canyon in 2004) and the alternate would avoid the normal Hayduke route’s.long 25 mile wade down the Escalante river.
Halls Creek was initially dry and sandy and was wide open in complete contrast to yesterday’s narrow canyon. The going was fairly good – a gravelly sandy base- and the views were ever changing. We found a single track trail on the east side of the wash that took a more direct line than the meandering river for much of the way.
It also took us through some of the loveliest desert flowers we have seen! Pink cactus, yellow lillies, purple lupins, white primrose, some orange flowers, sages- contrasting with a deep red soil.
Further south, water surfaced and into the afternoon we hit thicker scrub and bushwhacked through bamboo like willow and other tangled vegetation. We resorted to just hiking down the river for a while and some spots of quicksand kept us alert! The quicksand we came across wasn’t particularly dangerous especially with a partner to help pull the victim out! Once you emerge from the quicksand you end up with thick clinging goo over your shoes and socks though which can be hard to clean off.