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.