May 1st Halls Creek to lower Steven’s Canyon 15.5 miles
|Our first aid flowchart!|
Hiking up the slabs was superb with views opening out back to the Henry mountains again- already showing signs of snow melt since we crossed them a few days ago. Dammed Lake Powell (or Lake Foul as Li Brannfors had named it on his maps) appeared now to the south east, its low water levels revealing expanses of unnatural scrub plains.
We soon lost the cairns and headed up south west. The terrain was complex though- domes of slickrock sometimes dropping steeply requiring some backtracking to weave a reasonable line up to the top. Occasionally we found another cairn but couldn’t see any continuation of the route so we just navigated our own way.
At the summit we had a short rest then descended south west looking for a way into Stevens Canyon. The top of Stevens has many steep ‘fingers’ and there was no sign of a route so we just picked a ‘finger’ and scrabbled down slabs using junipers for holds until we popped out into what looked like the main canyon.
Eventually we made it onto an easier beautiful wash bottom with lots of pink towers and steep canyon walls. Awwhhh, this was brilliant hiking down slabs with sensually sculpted potholes of water like a ‘string of pearls’.
The upper canyon had a real wild feel so we were surprised to meet 3 hikers coming up canyon. We exchanged navigation and water notes and this gave us encouragement that there was a way through down Stevens to the Escalante river (we did have doubts!).
|Looking west down upper Stevens Canyon|
Lower down in Stevens the hiking was through more densely vegetated canyon bottom with some wading through deep water pockets. Poison ivy made an appearance as well and was quite hard to avoid. About a mile short of the junction with the main Escalante river we found a marvelous camp next to a garage sized boulder serenaded by croaking frogs through the evening!
Despite the boulder incident it was a fantastic day through the best of scenery with varied challenging hiking. Some more images below…..
|Lots of potholes with water in Stevens Canyon|
|Cold water dip in Stevens!|
|Our wonderful camp in lower Stevens Canyon|
2nd May Stevens to Hurricane Wash 16 miles (plus hitch into Escalante)
We aimed to make it to town today and were off at 7 am (early for us) in lovely early morning canyon light. Our canyon emptied into the larger Escalante and we follow this downstream for 1.5 miles or so. The water seemed to be running quite high with much thigh deep wading and the water temperature was COLD! Stunning hiking though in this world class area. The reflected light on the striped uniform sandstone cliffs was a sight to behold.
|Wading the Escalante|
|Looking up to Stevens Arch|
|Starting up Coyote Gulch|
|Hot, dry and dusty hitching next to the dirt track|