Halls Creek: Version 2.0

WasatchWill

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When my friend Devin contacted me about wanting to do a weekend desert trip, he had been keen to do an unknown route he had strung together down on Cedar Mesa, but for various reasons, that was put on the back shelf. We then started considering a loop in Capitol Reef through Lower Muley Twist, but we were not sure how icy a crux spot along that route might be, if there was any left at all, especially with recent wet weather and below freezing temps at night. There was another route I had strung together to explore an unfamiliar canyon in the northern part of Capitol Reef but again, that too was shelved for another idea I had pitched to him: Halls Creek Narrows. Since Devin had yet to experience that himself, I was able to convince him that this would be a perfect opportunity for him to check that one off.

Friday - March 26, 2021

We started the long drive down to the trailhead at Hall Creek Overlook knowing that weather had been iffy earlier in the day, but forecasts had called for favorable conditions throughout the afternoon. However, as we made our way out on the dirt road, lingering clouds began dumping a bit of rain followed by snow making for a slick road. We still managed, barely, pull into the trailhead. We pulled another forecast on our satellite devices as we considered alternative contingency plans.


Snowy Trailhead


No visibility beyond the rim

We ended up waiting a little over an hour in the car before signs of sunlight began to emerge and the clouds began to pull away.


Clouds begin to lift


Looking north from the rim


Snow clings to a juniper tree

And shortly thereafter, the clouds broke apart to let through some blue sky. The trip was now a go. Though, with less time to hike now, we figured on setting up our base camp a little sooner than we had planned. We donned our packs and made the descent down into Halls Wash.


Devin gazes out into the brightening Halls Wash


Looking south into the wash, now clear of clouds


A wider angle looking southward


Myself, happy to be on our way

Once into and across the wash, we found ourselves taking a scenic little detour from the standard route before rejoining the wash.


Heading along a brief detour route


Down into a little 'hidden valley'

Once back down in the wash, we followed it down the rest of the way, passing Red Slide in the process.


Back down into a the wash along with an ephemeral stream


Red Slide


Red Slide


Further down trail

About halfway down the wash, we began to look around for a suitable campsite. To aid our search, Devin had walked up a little sandstone fin to get a better view. When I turned back to see him, a fantastic photo opportunity had presented itself.


Devin atop sandstone fin


With skies now clear, only puddles leave evidence of the day's precipitation

We ended up traveling nearly another mile down canyon before settling into a virtually perfect little spot, with fresh water from the recent storm close by and trees to shield any winds.


Camp under a full moon


Saturday - March 27, 2021

The night ended up dipping below freezing down into the 20's. This would mean that the water down in the narrows was sure to be extra brisk when it was time to get our feet wet. We got our things ready for the day's hike and made our way down the wash a few miles further and then into the narrows to begin our loop hike. The narrows were every bit as amazing as I remember being my first time down through. The water was indeed bone-chilling cold early on, but as we got moving more and more and the sun grew higher in the sky, the water temperature had backed off. At least a little of that in combination with our feet just adapting as time went on.


A barren box-elder along the entry into the narrows


A reflection in the very large alcove


Silhouette


First wader


A look back up canyon


Into the frigid cold waters


Yet another alcove along another canyon bend


Reflection in another wader


Another little alcove down canyon


Approaching the end of another wader


Halls 'subway'


Blooming Box Elders


Another silhouette


Myself, treadng down the creek


Full sun


Spire reflection


Into the final stretches


Towering walls


Into the 'Chasm'


'Chasm' reflection

Near the end of the narrows came the crux of the route: A long narrow pool that in years past, had been nothing but a waist-high wader. At some point in the last year or two however, floods had washed out much of the built up sediment and sand, deepening the pool such that in order to get through it, one now has to swim for short stretch. Had the air above it been much warmer, it would have been an easy decision to go forward with the swim...however, we ended up opting for a more creative way to bypass it. We were able to assist each other in gaining the bench above it to the right of it and follow that around to the other end of the pool, where we were able to descend and slide down a very steep ramp to return back down to the creek bed.


Devin evaluates the 'Swimmer'


Up on the bench above the swimmer


Devin successfully back down off the bypass bench


Wet spots show our descent and splashes off the bypass bench

Having successfully bypassing the swimmer section, we each finished out the narrows with a comfortably dry upper torso.


More towering walls

Once out of the narrows, it was time to complete and close the loop by exiting the creek and gaining a trial over Halls Diving back to where we had started the loop, and from there, we'd return back to camp for a restful and relaxing end to the day. Unlike last time, we encountered nobody on this particular down down through the narrows. My first time down, I had encountered about half a dozen different parties which is more the norm. The storm earlier in the day prior must have scared off any others that may have had similar plans.


Looking south from Halls Divide


Looking north from Halls Divide


Returning to camp


Sunday - March 28, 2021

The final morning would be spent hiking back to the car the way we had come down. Before packing up though, I wandered up a nearby side canyon to see how far I could get. It wasn't very far at before I was presented with a deep and impassable pool.


Side canyon pool near camp


Alpenglow reflection

Along the way back up, we pulled over at Fountain Tanks where I was stunned to see how dry some of the pools were while others had very little water left in them, even after the big storm the day before that had sent water running off the walls. It was evidence of just how hot and dry the previous year had been.


Empty lower Fountain tank

Three years prior, all of the tanks were quite full.


lower Fountain Tanks (2018)

We'd also pass by Red Slide once more.


Red Slide bathed in morning sunlight

Hiking back up to the rim where the trailhead and Devin's car awaited us was a stark contrast from our way back in. The trail was mostly dried out and not a cloud in the sky.


Devin takes in a view while resting from a strenuous hike back up the rim


Clear skies at Halls Creek Overlook


Looking south


Halls Creek Overlook Panorama

 
Last edited:

Wanderlust073

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Nice a new WW video to watch ;)

How's the health?
 

LarryBoy

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Wasn't necessarily the trip report I was expecting you to post, but a lovely trip nonetheless. Nothing like a little rain and snow to set the mood beforehand. Great shots. Glad you were able to bypass the super cold swimmer.
 

WasatchWill

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Nice a new WW video to watch ;)

How's the health?

So far, so good! Just completed a high route in the Wind Rivers...so I'm feeling pretty good, even though it was really hard.

Wasn't necessarily the trip report I was expecting you to post, but a lovely trip nonetheless. Nothing like a little rain and snow to set the mood beforehand. Great shots. Glad you were able to bypass the super cold swimmer.

If you were expecting the WRHR from last week already...I'm a few trips behind before I'm pushing that one out, but the desire to get that one out has me pushing to catch up on these others first! ;)
 

regehr

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Nice-- I consider sitting in the car waiting for shitty weather to pass to be an extremely propitious way to begin a trip.

We were there just a couple weeks before you, but we approached the narrows from the other direction: we got into Halls Creek via the canyoneers sneak route that drops in a little north of Millers Canyon. Weather was dodgy the whole time and on the day we wanted to hike the narrows, it was snowing as we entered them, and we stopped at the first deep water we encountered, not even a half mile from the south end, with hypothermia appearing to be a real possibility if we got all wet. So our exploring ended up being almost entirely south of the narrows -- which turned out to be a great area with many very cool things to see.

On the other hand, the area south of the park was VERY cowed up, just gross overall. My head ended up camped about a foot from a nice big cow pie. If it had just been me and my son, we'd have bivvied on slickrock and avoided all this, but our buddies had tents and weren't too interested in a campsite where stakes don't work. Anyhow it's an extremely excellent area.
 

Titans

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Wow, super cool photos! Thanks for sharing.
Did you and Kevin use neoprene socks or?
Also did you drive in from the north via the dirt rd or did you loop all around on via Hanksville/Ticaboo to approach the TH from the south (more pavement)? Last time we were out in that area a strong cold front was suppose to arrive the day after. But it arrived early. The wind gusts were just surreal, we had to tie down the tent to the Jeep, we got sandblasted at midnight and the wind was howling all night. You did much better by arriving at the end of a weather event!
 

WasatchWill

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Wow, super cool photos! Thanks for sharing.
Did you and Kevin use neoprene socks or?
Also did you drive in from the north via the dirt rd or did you loop all around on via Hanksville/Ticaboo to approach the TH from the south (more pavement)? Last time we were out in that area a strong cold front was suppose to arrive the day after. But it arrived early. The wind gusts were just surreal, we had to tie down the tent to the Jeep, we got sandblasted at midnight and the wind was howling all night. You did much better by arriving at the end of a weather event.
My first time, I came straight down the Notom road. For this time, we kept to the pavement and went down through Hanksville and Ticaboo way.
 
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