This site has blogs from Brian and Martina’s longer walking trips in the great outdoors. We have done 3 multi-month hikes in the USA over the years and there is a blog of each here; the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and the Hayduke. Plus lots of other stuff including Canada, the UK, Austria, Spain...There are some se kayaking posts too.
We stay in the village of Fortrose, Scotland- near to the highlands, home of some great mountains, coastal and island scenery. We get out into the mountains most weekends or more but escape from the variable weather to sunnier climates abroad whenever we can! That includes rock and ice climbing, camping, sea-kayaking, hiking and lots of sheep farming as well – in both our home country of Scotland and on trips afar. You can see these activities from our photos link on the menu.
It is now late May and near the end of the season here for us in southern Utah as the temperature is getting a bit too hot. We picked up a rental car though and did some day trips in around the Zion and Bryce National Park area…. We have been to Bryce Canyon before, but it was hard to resist the mellow pleasant hiking in this popular park with cooler temperatures high up above the lower canyons
Parowan gap north of Cedar City. Southern Utah. An impressive array of pretty abstract looking petroglyphs etched into the rock.
For the last section of our Hayduke hike we headed north from the Utah Arizona border to Zion National Park. Typically for us, we deviated from the actual Hayduke route to instead cross an area to the west called Caanan Mountain. Although to be fair to us, the final route used by the Hayduke in Zion NP (Weeping Wall) is currently closed due to rockfall so variants are pretty valid.
We hiked north through the streets of the town of Hildale from the Utah-Arizona state line into Water Canyon and the Caanan Mountain area.
In the morning we did a side hike up to the high rim of Water Canyon to see its arch…
Many thanks for all the help we have received with planning and logistics for this hike from Charlie Neumann, Joe Mitchell, Li Brannfors, Monica Stapleton and Jamal Green; and for support, inspiration and shared enthusiasm from fellow Hayduke hikers Heather K, Nathan K, Mike Tyler, Ryan, Peter, Race, Not Guilty, Sprinkler and ‘Butcha; also the numerous wonderfully generous Americans (and two Danes) who gave us lifts in their cars to town and those we met who gave us fruit, water and kind words of encouragement!
Our route as mentioned above deviated from the Hayduke to cross Canaan Mountain from Hildale to Rockville. You can click on the overview map below to enlarge it. (Our route in purple, Hayduke in red and some other alts in black).
This is a marvelous hike has a real Hayduke flavor to it with a mix of trails, cross country, route finding and superb scenery. Its downside is that it misses out the ‘Barracks’ on the Hayduke which is also top class.
Water is available in the well named Water Canyon, then there are some big potholes in the slickrock wash at the top of Water Canyon. Sawmill Spring had water about 10 minutes downstream from the spring itself and there was some seeps and pools in the slickrock below that.
The attractively named “Swamp Point” high on the edge of the North Rim (no swamp, just a few mosquitoes) was our departure point back into the Grand Canyon after resting, eating and watching out for the endemic Kiabab Squirrel in the campground near North Rim Lodge.
Just below the rim lies Teddy’s (Roosevelt) Cabin, a cool ‘bothy‘. Apparently the great man stayed here on a cougar hunt – the cabin was built (and named) afterwards. From this piece of civilization our route headed into the wilds, sans trail, bushwhacking and scrambling down Saddle Canyon and then Tapeats Creek.
Firstly we bushwhacked our way down through the scrub in upper Saddle Canyon. This was slow going but not too difficult until we took a route out to avoid a big dryfall. We climbed out the canyon too early and got into some nasty scrubby, loose sand scrambling before we returned back to the canyon and finding a set of cairns for a better route.
After a few hours of that, the walls of the lower part of Saddle Canyon suddenly rise up and form smooth alcoves above and slick chutes and channels under foot and we found ourselves sliding and scrambling down polished half pipes and overhangs into dark pools of water. By that time we were joined by a fourth hiker (Peter) and were able to assist each other, passing packs down the steep drops. Superb and exciting stuff, unfortunately I then stored the camera away in a waterproof bag for safety!
After the shady but steep narrows of Saddle Canyon, we joined Tapeats Creek which was dry and hot at mid day. But after a couple of hours of sizzlingly hot hiking with a few rests in the shade we thankfully reached pools of water, then flowing water and then to a roaring clear river which we had to cross numerous times.
Travelling through this terrain without trails is hot sweaty and challenging and we took 12 hours to cover 11 miles that day, arriving at our intended camping spot near the junction of Tapeats Creek and Thunder River at dusk. We were welcomed by a large pink rattlesnake who slithered away and happily was not seen again during the night!
Next morning at 5 am we climbed up 1,400ft to Thunder Spring, a roaring cascade of spring water gushing straight out of the limestone cliff. We knew the day would be hot, so the early start maximised the comparatively milder morning temperatures (and beautiful morning light).
We rested for a couple of hours at the oasis-like Deer Creek in the welcome shade of cottonwood trees and descended the beautiful Deer Creek narrows before reaching the banks of the Colorado River itself around 11am. We were not alone: Deer Creek is a must-see side trip for river rafters.
We found ourselves a shady cave under some big boulders and tried to sit out the heat. The forecast at river level had been for 107 F (41.6 °C) that day and the next.
We passed the day reading, venturing out only occasionally to dip in the pool below Deer Creek falls and to talk the boaters arriving at the beach. In the afternoon we (Brian and Martina) decided that it was way too hot to enjoyably continue hiking down the canyon (an off trail route requiring boulder hopping on the steep riverside most of the way for 8 miles or so, we had done this in 2017 but in cooler temperatures).
So we hiked back uphill that evening and, with a 3.30am alarm the next morning and a helpful bright moon we continued upwards when it was cooler, all the way to the North Rim on the scenic Bill Hall trail. About a 4,700ft climb in all. There we got a lift with some friendly hikers from Idaho to the town of Hurricane, Utah.
Heather and Peter have hiked on (hardier than us!). We are hopping forward and with the help of a cooler weather window hope to continue our route into Zion National Park…meantime we are enjoying a decadent town stop!
Section 13 miles 27.9-37.4 I think the section down Saddle Canyon to Upper Tapeats Campground is one of the toughest sections of the Hayduke, although with some great scrambling and scenery. We were here mid May and it took us about 10 hours but that included about 1-2 hours time wasted scrabbling about at a wrong exit from Saddle Canyon.
The initial descent down Saddle Canyon (28.6-30.2) was cross country with some scrub in the dry bed of the creek but wasn’t too hard at all. Maybe with more people on the Hayduke it is gradually getting easier.
We missed the correct exit from the dry canyon bed at 30.2 to traverse around the dryfall and headed uphill too early. There are a few smaller dryfalls you get to first which have cairns on the left side but you need to go down past these to more cairns before the bigger dryfall. The route from there back into Saddle Canyon involves traversing on the left west side onto a ridge then descending its west side to a small side wash and back into Saddle Canyon. It was pretty slow going, scratchy bushwhacking but had some cairns and signs of traffic.
Once you are back into Saddle Canyon at mile 31.0 the character changes straight away to scrambling and hiking inside the slickrock canyon. There were a few drop offs where we were happy to have a team to assist each other and lower packs- it would be trickier solo. The cord to lower packs was definitely useful. We didn’t really get too wet in the slickrock potholes, maybe knee deep. A superb canyon.
The scrambling ends at 32.6 with the Stina Canyon junction. From memory there were two small potholes at 33.1, the junction with Crazy Jug Canyon. The next few miles were very hot down a rubbly dry streambed and slow going. The going gets nicer about 1/2 mile before Tapeats Spring though with cottonwoods, shade, pools and running water.
Once we met Tapeats Spring the river changed character to a raging and loud cataract! There is a trail which helps a lot starting on the south side and crossing the river at reasonable places with some scrambling along the way. We maybe had knee deep water after a dry spell, any more might have made progress difficult. The area is really dramatic and scenic and a stand out of the Hayduke if you have low enough water levels!
After a day’s rest in South Rim village, we descended once more into the Grand Canyon and hiked to the North Rim on the popular Bright Angel and North Kiabab trails. The forecast was for temps of a sizzling 97 F down at the river so we decided to set off early….
We set off early again from Cottonwood camp to avoid the heat climbing up to the North Rim. The steady climb was made easier by a good well trodden trail…
At the small lodge of Jacobs we joined forces with Heather whose three hiking partners have all left the trail for various reasons. Good to have more options when it comes to the point where we have to draw lots about which member of the expedition to eat when we run out of food, for we were now heading back out on a pickup truck to the tough part of the trail: the Grand Canyon!
But first the trail keeps following the AZT on the plateau up to 9000 feet altitude through aspen (still mostly leafless), fir, spruce and pine forest with open alpine meadows in between. Winter is only just retreating here.
We reached the edge of the Grand Canyon at Nankoweap on our second night out, with gale force winds and we camped in relative shelter amongst aspens at the edge of the cliffs dropping down into the Grand Canyon. Next morning we started our 6,000 foot descent to the Colorado River at dawn.
The heat ramped up as we descended down to the inner cauldron of the Colorado River. We camped that night at the bottom of Nankoweap canyon on the shore of the Colorado Rivet itself with stormy gusting winds whipping sand and river water at us.
We were not alone however as there were two big motorised commercial river boats moored on our beach with about 25 clients. A private boat trip with 6 small rubber rafts was moored in the next bay downstream. In the evening we walked up to a viewpoint and afterwards chatted to the private rafters. They were a group of friends, relatives and acquaintances from all over the US. Their figurehead “Uncle Dave” was very welcoming and, once we had sourced a life jacket for each of us, generously invited us to travel 9 miles down river the next day with them..
After a fun (and wet from rapids) morning on the river with our boater friends, we got off at the Little Colorado River confluence with the Colorado and said our farewells.
Our target for camping was Lava Canyon rapids and the trail stayed high above the river on balcony ledges until we got there. The wind was back and buffeting but at least helped keep us coolish in the 30C heat. We chose to camp in a dense grove of trees that provided shelter from the wind. When it got dark and the wind abated we sat on the beach for a while with our rafting friends camped opposite us on the other side of the river.
Because the mid day temperatures are way above 30°C, we start hiking at dawn now (5am). The best time to hike for beautiful light as well!
Tributaries to the Colorado River form a labyrinth of deep canyons that we followed until we can cross them, making for a wriggly but beautiful route. Some scrambling added to the interest- this is a great hike in the depths of the Grand Canyon.
By chance, we met up with our boating friends again at Hance Rapids on the Colorado River where they had moored and we camped too with good access to water from the river. We were invited to their evening campfire circle and dinner.
After 5 nights and 6 days hiking we arrived at the South Rim on May 11th. Fresh food, showers and rest beckon! Next we will hike back down into the canyon bottom and up to the North Rim to continue our hike…..
Route We mostly followed the Hayduke in this section apart from at the end where we hiked out of the Grand Canyon to the south rim on the Grand View Trail. This shortened the route a bit and we had already hiked the remainder part along the Tonto Trail and up South Kiabab Trail in 2014. This part was also our least favourite hike due to the heat and paucity of water!
South from Jacob Lake the Hayduke follows the well maintained and relatively popular Arizona Trail (AZT) for about 30 miles. Good AZT water report website.
Its dry from leaving the AZT til hitting Nankoweap Canyon about 8 miles down from the North Rim on Nankoweap Trail. This trail is really scenic and makes for a superb hike. Nankoweap Canyon looks like a perennial stream with a gushing spring source just 10 or 20m downstream from where the trail hits the stream.
Once you hit the Colorado River there are a number of places to access the river for water. You can’t do this anywhere though so best keeping an eye on the map. the Nankoweap Granaries are definitely worth the side trip.
The route along the Colorado River between Nankoweap and the north of the Little Colorado can be pretty slow going over boulders with bushwhacking so allow plenty of time and best to start early if its going to be hot. We have managed to get lifts across the river to the Little Colorado outlet pretty easily within a few hours both times we have been there.
Hance Creek had a good, if small, flow of water.
Overall, from Jacob Lake to South Rim is a brilliant hiking expedition and if there in May, the main challenge is the heat down in the bottom of the canyon.
During our rest days in the town of Kanab we bought food for the trail ahead; 2 days to carry straight away for the hike down Buckskin Gulch and onto the Arizona Trail, then with the help of a friend, 6 days which we left at a remote diner/hotel called Jacob Lake (on the Northern plateau of the Grand Canyon) and a whopping 8 days of supplies which we mailed to the post office at North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
We started putting our thumbs up on Highway 89 out of Kanab at 7am on 4th May and got a lift back to the trail with an 82 year old gentleman who was driving a portable water tanker for supplying firefighting crew in New Mexico. He was driving it there from Montana!
The Hayduke goes through some spectacular sandstone country in and around Buckskin Gulch and then picks up the Arizona Trail (AZT) for approx 65 miles. The AZT itself starts at the Mexican border in the south and finishes after around 800 miles at the Utah state border. We were hiking it southward ‘against Wainwright’, meeting lots of northbound hikers who were nearing their finish line. What this meant for us was that we had well maintained, clear trail to follow for the next few days!
Once on the AZT we climbed very quickly up onto the Kiabab Plateau, a high limestone forested area that forms the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We left behind the slick gold and red sandstone and spent two days in dry pinyon-juniper forest, then ponderosa pines higher up. Our one water source was from a “wildlife guzzler”. Below Martina is straining some “wildlife” out with a handkerchief before treating the water!
After two days we got to Jakob Lake, got a hotel room and picked up our food parcel ready for the next 6 to 7 exciting days headed for the depths of the Grand Canyon……
Route For the first time we followed the Hayduke in this section(!) with the exception of the enforced fire reroute on the AZT below…
Water- we relied on a single source about 4 miles south of the Utah-Arizona state border, the wildlife guzzler as pictured above which seems reliable. That said there was a fair bit of activity at the state border with a few northbound AZT hikers finishing each day in May. There could be a fair chance of picking up water here from people there to meet AZT hikers.
AZT diversion- there was a rerouting of the AZT north of Jacob Lake due to burn areas impacting the trail. See sign below…
It had always been our plan to hike an alternate to the Hayduke from the town of Escalante to Highway 89 and the next town stop of Kanab. Heading in a South Westerly direction our route would join and cross the Hayduke for a while but taking an independent line for much of the way. Information about this route was gratefully gleaned from Jamal Green’s website and blog. You can click on the overview map below to enlarge it. (Our route in purple, and red where joining the Hayduke).
On Monday 25 April we finally walked out of Escalante, blisters dried and dressed, with all our belongings and 6 days food on our back to climb up the Smokey Mountain Road onto the Kaiparowits Plateau. We then followed the tad morbidly named ‘Death Ridge’ jeep road for a while. After that the reds and yellows of the rock and grand ponderosa pines give way to ‘The Mudhills’ with muted greys and some surreal landscapes.
We hiked through this grey landscape for a day and a half past Canaan Mountain into the very remote Wahweap wash drainage system where we found precious water at Headquarters Spring. From there we briefly picked up the Hayduke Trail to Grosvenor Arch and camped near a luxurious cattle tank from which we prepared dinner, breakfast and our daily water ration.
In the morning we met a torpid snake warming itself in the sun. It wasn’t going anywhere in a hurry, in contrast to which we were eagerly heading towards an exciting slot canyon in Round Valley Draw (leading to Hackberry Canyon- both part of the Hayduke Trail proper).
We camped that night under red rock walls in Hackberry Canyon with running water (a rare delight).
On our fourth day we headed west out of Hackberry, leaving the Hayduke again and striking out above the canyons over golden sands with fantastic views in all directions. Our itinerary now followed some imaginatively named canyons: Stone Donkey, Hogeye, Paria, Kitchen and Starlight…
We crossed the Paria River at the mouth of Hogeye and met not only the Hayduke Trail again at this point but also, by pure chance, our fellow hikers Heather, Ryan and Mike – the first two reclining in a pool in the river! After stopping for a chat we headed out on our alternate route and walked up Kitchen Canyon (a very actively eroding bright red rubble-fest with muddy, silty water) and into Starlight Canyon- also bright red and collapsible looking but with clear cold water flowing down from multiple springs. This lovely canyon also had some narrows and a fun scramble up a waterworn shoot.
We camped below the narrows. The next day we reached a large cave with pictographs painted in soot at the back on a white wall. Very impressive.
We had seen the pointy landmark that is Mollies Nipple on our first day out of Escalante town, rising above the plateau. Now, on day 5 we were aiming to hike across its flanks. More steep sand (with ever more flowers coming out) but amazing technicolour views!
From the Nipple a sandy ATV track took us into the red valley below and reunited us with the Hayduke Trail for the last 10 miles. Final camp was made under a juniper near a spring 7 miles from Highway 89. On our last day we got up at dawn to hike in the cool of the morning. A lovely couple from Colorado gave us a lift into the town of Kanab.
Kanab is a fabulous little town: it has two independent supermarkets and many shops are shut on Sunday (including one of the supermarkets!). It’s back country used to be a favoured movie location in the 40’s and 50’s so it has a hint of Hollywood to it. Clint Eastwood shot ‘The Outlaw Josie Wales” near here!
Route The route we took between Escalante town and Highway 89 was really enjoyable with a particularly great sequence of canyons in the middle in the area of the Paria River. Overview map here We pretty much joined up 3 alternatives described by Jamal Green along with some information from Michael Kelsey’s guide;
Alvey Wash- 04/25/22 About 5.5 miles south of Escalante town on Smokey Mountain dirt road- there was water running here where the wash narrows.
Mossy Dell- 04/25/22 This is about 19 miles from Escalante town and mentioned as a water source by Jamal but we couldn’t find any water here unfortunately.
Collet Canyon forks- 04/25/22 The jeep road crosses a few forks of upper Collet Canyon but all were dry for us. It looks like they might flow for a bit following rain.
Headquarters Springs- 04/26/22 A number of small flows of water here. We couldn’t find the cabin marked on the map though…
Corral south of Grosvener Arch- 04/26/22 Two good full tanks of water here, see map below.
Round Valley Draw, HT Section 8 mile 2.9- Our second time down these narrows and this is an excellent scramble.
Hackberry Canyon, HT Section 8 mile 11.2- 04/27/22 Water started from about here. Bear in mind its a tough walk down canyon from the narrows of RVD to this point in deep soft sand. Also this area was fouled by cattle making the water a little less inviting!
Hogeye Creek- 04/28/22 Excellent water flow in two shady sections in the middle of Hogeye down to maybe half a mile before the Paria River.
Paria River- 04/28/22 This was flowing quite clear between Hogeye and Kitchen.
Kitchen Canyon- 04/28/22 Very, very muddy flow. The canyon is so rubbly and loose that it looks like it the water flow is full of mud and silt from the side walls sliding into the wash.
Starlight Canyon- 04/29/22 Lovely flow of good water up the length of this canyon to where we exited at the cave.
1/2 mile to north of Kitchen Corral Spring (HT 43.4) – 04/30/22 Good small flow 1/4 mile east of Hayduke Trail dirt road along side canyon on jeep road. Go over barbed wire to small spring that is piped off so the canyon looks dry before you get to the spring.
Between 17 April and 25 April we based ourselves in and around the small town of Escalante. We looked after the car of a fellow hiker Nathan who has joined Hayduke hikers Heather, Mike and Ryan for a 6 day section and by generously leaving the car with us, we were able to pick them all up from their destination trailhead when they had finished.
Meantime we were able to treat blisters and go for day hikes of increasing length to test progress. We started with a visit to Phipps Arch, a day in upper Pine Creek and then two days on the Boulder Mail Trail. Here are some shots of our “test hikes”.
After a couple of day hikes we walked the Boulder Mail Trail as an overnight backpack between the towns of Boulder and Escalante. This follows the route once taken by the mailman and his horse from the town of Boulder to Escalante before there was a road. It goes through spectacular canyon and rock slab terrain!
On Wednesday 13 April we left Hanksville to hike for eight days to the town of Escalante. We got a lift to the trailhead from a young rancher who was taking horses in a trailer into the range to round up cattle. He told us his grandfather used to walk the herd 100 miles from their winter to summer pastures up the hill. He dropped us off at “Little Egypt”. Before us loomed the refreshing looking snows of the Henry Mountains. And uphill we went…
Little Egypt gets its name from the curious rock formations found there. We were hiking upwards through layers of sedimentary rock of ever changing colour and consistency, traversing forward in time from the oldest to the youngest layers.
We scrambled cross country on loose shale soil above Little Egypt onto a broad slope heading upwards towards the Henry Mountains.
Some of rock layers around the foot of the mountain contain metals. Uranium is still mined in this area. Our trail led through the site of a now vanished gold mining town. Only a couple of cabins remain.
The first water appeared after 10 miles at Crescent Creek and we made camp. The creek was already fringed with thick icicles. We knew from the forecast it was going to be a cold night at 7,800 feet. Our water froze in the bottles over night.
Next day it was sunny but still bitterly cold and very windy. We opted to go over a pass (9,000 ft Copper Ridge) rather than the top of the mountain and hiked 10 miles to the next water source (Airplane Spring). Here we made hot tea and took stock.
Brian’s blisters had multiplied again, were painful and some were bloody. So the sensible decision was made to retreat. That still meant climbing back up over the pass and back to the freezing camp and a 20 mile day. Luckily the weather got a bit milder on the second night there. On Friday 15 April we were back at the roadside and hitched a lift into Hanksville.
Since then much has happened. We have met more Hayduke hikers (Marty, Not Guilty, Peter), took in some great live music and through mind-blowing generosity obtained the use of a car for a week without which we would really be stuck. Thank you Nathan!!!
Now we are in the town of Escalante, eating well, resting and hoping to be back on the trail by the start of next week.
Route We hiked from H95 past Little Egypt then joined the Hayduke before Crescent Creek. We then took an alternate dirt road south over Copper Ridge to Airplane Spring. Due to Brian’s blisters(!) we then turned about and hiked back to H95 but this time following the Hayduke from Crescent Creek to H95.
Little Egypt – This is an alternative route south of the Hayduke Trail from H95 as described by Nic Barth. The hoodoos and mining cabins were interesting and worthwhile as an alt.
Crescent Creek– Good flowing water as the jeep track nears the creek bed. Nice camping on the west side of the river too.
Airplane Spring on a lower alternate on the south slopes of the Henry Mountains had reasonable water in two wells inside the fenced off area.
On this section we were mostly on an alternate to the Hayduke Trail to take in an area of very remote and intricate canyons called “The Maze” which we hadn’t seen before. In 2014 we took another alternate and what both have in common is that from Needles in Canyonlands National Park, we end up at the Colorado River at a place called Spanish Bottom. From the north bank of the river we climb up again over remote plateau and end up in the well named Happy Canyon and then cross the even more appropriately named Dirty Devil river (a very muddy tributary of the Colorado). Credits for the route go to Jamal Green who describes it on his excellent Across Utah website.
The map below has an overview of the routes; Red=Hayduke, Purple=2022 Alternate via The Maze, Black=2014 Alternate via Ernies Country and South Fork Happy
The Needles area of Canyonlands is mostly known for spiky stripy rock formations but it also has a sunken valley known as a graben called Cyclone Canyon which was a cool place to hike. This is not made by water erosion like most canyons but by a collapse of underground salt deposits.
We camped near the south bank of the Colorado River on the first night. Brian had arranged for a ferry operator to pick us up at 10:00 and take us across. They were taking hikers from Moab to the opposite northern shore and that all worked out very smoothly.
From there we climbed a steep trail up 1000 ft to a place of rock spires called the Dolls House. The trail was made in the 19th century by sheepherders to allow their flocks access to the river. We followed some jeep tracks north across open plateau to reach the edge of ‘The Maze’ at a place called Chimney Rock and the descent down a cairned route into The Maze was tremendous.
Inside The Maze we saw green cottonwood trees for the first time and the character of the landscape was less severe, more gentle. There was water! Not flowing but emerging in small clear dips in the sand.
We were not the only people to find The Maze hospitable as seen in pictographs at the Harvest Scene panels lefts by people variously referred to as Fremont or Basketmaker people.
From the Maze we had a few miles on jeep trails over a plateau called Hans Flat, named after rancher Hans Andersen who ran cattle here. We were able to pick up some water here at remote park visitor centre.
Then we descended North French Spring Fork of Happy Canyon. Finding the top of the descent down the steep canyon walls was quite exciting as it involved a fair bit of route finding (no trail here). Along the way we came across three black donkeys who live happily down there in a green(ish) valley…… they took one look at us and ran.
After the donkeys we got onto another 100 year old stock trail down, down, down a weakness in the cliffs until we hit the floor of the fork into Happy Canyon.
Happy Canyon had water! Yes, in the pic below this is a delicious clear (once the tadpoles and mosquito larvae have been shoo-ed out of the way) first rate drinking water. Ignore the white rime. That’s just minerals deposited as the water evaporates…
The second best thing about Happy Canyon, after the water, is that it turns into a slot Canyon for the last mile and a bit. So, so beautiful!
Happy Canyon narrows end very suddenly when meeting the Dirty Devil. This is a long river that goes through layers of rock that produce a lot of very fine silt (it also has lots of agricultural run off higher up)…so it is muddy and its bottom is very silty. Not much fun to cross and even worse to drink.
We decided against drinking it though as we pushed on to Poison Spring Canyon which, despite the name, had a wonderful clear spring.
Now we have come over 180 miles and there are some signs of wear! Brian has taken to wearing his socks upside down because the sand has eroded the soles! There are also some blisters and we are now in the tiny town of Hanksville, resting up and preparing for the next section over the Henry mountains to the town of Escalante…..
Route We took a northerly alternate from the Hayduke over the Colorado River at Spanish Bottom, through the Maze, Hans Flat and Happy Canyons to join the Hayduke at Poison Springs. See here for overview map.
Needles visitor centre to Colorado River – We saw no water on the trail from Big Springs down Cyclone Canyon then Lower Red Lake. We took water from the Colorado.
Maze – Standard descent from west of Chimney rock to Pictograph canyon – small pothole on scramble descent and small potholes at canyon bottom about where marked by Kelsey as a spring.
Maze- Wash north of the Harvest Scene, on the west side of the canyon junction -small seep flow
Maze – Foot of the Maze Overlook trail – Good water in pools with a small flow.
North Trail Canyon – Small pothole just before steep zig zag exit. We didn’t notice any water between Maze Overlook and here.
Hans Flat Ranger Station- Sells gallon jugs and open between 8 and 4.30.
North French Springs Fork – Medium pothole of water in wash above steep constructed trail descent. Well used by feral donkeys though and we didn’t take.
North French Springs Fork- Constructed trail descends steep section round a nose to the boulder filled wash at bottom and then continues criss crossing wash to easier ground after boulder section. Makes for a relatively easy passage.
North French Springs Fork- Slickrock pothole area down wash mentioned by Jamal Green was dry.
Happy Canyon- Small seep 1 mile below French Springs Fork junction. Good pools and seeps 3 miles below. We also saw these in April 2014. Happy Canyon narrows had some small potholes which may be better than the muddy water in the Dirty Devil…
Poison Spring Canyon- Good flow about 1 mile below and 2 miles above the spring.