"I Would Walk 500 Miles ..." - A Utah Adventure - April 2022 - Part 3

TrailScot

Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2019
Messages
70
After the magnificent hike through Dark Canyon, and the desert traverse to Hite on Lake Powell, I hadn't really been looking forward to the next day of my trip, since it involved an early morning 7 mile road-walk along Highway 95. In order to reach the far side of the lake, and proceed on my intended route, I needed to cross the road bridges across the Colorado and Dirt Devil rivers. (In this area, the Hayduke Trail heads north towards the Red Benches, and then west across the Henry Mountains).

It is startling now to see what was once the north end of Lake Powell. The lake has receded several miles south, due to the ongoing drought conditions in the region. What a few years ago would have been a bright blue expanse of sparkling water here, is now mainly a muddy, scrubby plain, with the Colorado River running across it. (I've attached a couple of satellite images of this area from 2017 and 2022, to illustrate how the lake level has changed recently. My attached hiking map appears to show the route following the middle of the lake !). This spring, the lake levels were some 185 feet below the high water mark ! Although the initial creation and ongoing existence of the dam and lake have been controversial since Glen Canyon was flooded and the structures were built in the 1960s, there is no doubt that the dramatic fall in the level of the lake is currently having a significant impact on tourism, boating, and associated leisure activities, which in turn affects the local communities in the area.

Despite my trepidation, in actual fact, I rather enjoyed the walk along Highway 95. It is a road I have driven many times, but hadn't really taken in just how pretty the surrounding area is. Also, on 3 different occasions cars stopped along the highway to ask if I needed water, or to check I was doing ok, which was really appreciated.

Given the low lake levels, I hoped to be able to hike alongside the river as much as possible, and this worked out well. The underfoot terrain was variable, ranging from soft white sand, to crumbly baked mud, but it was all quite manageable, and I made good progress. It was remarkable to think that in places I was possibly walking along a stretch of beach that had been underwater for almost 60 years ! In only one place was I forced up onto a higher bench to be able to continue on my route.
(Day 11 14.8 miles, Total 150.3)

=====

Jamal Green has documented his route from the edge of Lake Powell towards the Little Rockies Wilderness Study Area, using Swett Canyon to link the areas. I hoped to be able to make further progress westwards alongside the river, beyond this canyon, due to the current lower water levels. I easily made it to the mouth of Twomile Canyon, which I could have used to access the Little Rockies area, but I decided to continue on towards Fourmile Canyon. Although I eventually made it into the canyon, the route alongside the Colorado River became more and more muddy the further I hiked. It was a pretty miserable experience, especially the first quarter mile of the canyon itself, where I had to negotiate a way around some huge boulders, while trying not to get sucked into the soft mud in the drainage. I finally made onto some dry, firm ground by finally scrambling up a loose and potentially dangerous boulder slope. There was at least a nice spring close by to get some water. This was an utterly exhausting afternoon.
(Day 12 12 miles, Total 162.3)

=====

The first part of the hike up Fourmile Canyon was very picturesque with a pretty lake, and a lovely stream lined with cottonwood trees. Further on there have been some large rockfalls, with huge house-sized boulders blocking the drainage. This requires some scrambling up the nearby steep slopes in order to rejoin the canyon further up. There are a couple of nice groups of rock hoodoos close by a fork in the canyon, and some nice desert varnish on the steep walls. However, as the day progressed, hiking through the narrow, rocky drainage became rather tedious, and I craved some views of the surrounding area, especially as I was getting glimpses of Mount Holmes and Mount Ellsworth in the Little Rockies. I was able to scramble out of the canyon further on, and decided to proceed using the higher benches. Although the views were great, onward progress was painfully slow, due to the rough terrain, and having to negotiate a route around many shallow but long side drainages. Even Michael Kelsey describes this area as 'rugged' :). Eventually, I decided that I could only make reasonable progress by returning to the drainage of Fourmile Canyon itself. It wasn't the most interesting of hikes, but it was definitely the best way of traversing this area.
(Day 13 13.4 miles, Total 175.7)

=====

The next morning I proceeded further along Fourmile Canyon and crossed over the high saddle under Fred's Ridge, before reaching Highway 276 by mid-morning. After my frustrated attempts to negotiate the terrain in this area the previous day, I decided that an 8 mile road-walk was preferable to taking on any kind of cross-country route. Three hours later I was at Ticaboo Lodge, where I was able to collect my next resupply package. The manager and staff at the lodge are incredibly kind and helpful, and were delighted (and relieved) that I had made it back there to collect my box. This was my first opportunity in 2 weeks to buy some food, so I spent a very enjoyable 2 hours on the lobby sofa at Ticaboo munching on numerous sandwiches, muffins, and cookies.

In the lobby of the hotel there is a huge geological map of the Colorado Plateau, and it was fun to trace my route so far with my finger, across this part of Utah. As I studied the map, I was able to imagine the canyons, mesas, and assorted features that lay ahead of me. I couldn't help but spend a few minutes looking closely at the short tricky section of my route that had been preying in mind so much since the start. How difficult could 'Miracle Mile' be really ? I was only one week from finding out.

The lodge staff told me that there was another store just 2 miles along the road, which had an adjoining restaurant. I sped along the road and got there just before closing, and was able to enjoy a delicious burger and fries. I needed those calories ! The only problem I had now was the ferocious wind blowing, and there was no way I would be able to pitch my tent in an open area that evening. I wasn't quite sure what to do, but eventually just bedded down around the back of one of the boatyard buildings, which was fairly well sheltered.
(Day 14 15.4 miles, Total 191.1)

=====

The next day involved another long road-walk but I was feeling energized this morning, and the time flew by. After a steep final climb along the Burr Trail Road, I was finally able to get off the pavement, and head cross-country once more. I was now heading across the undulating terrain of Hall Mesa, in the direction of Waterpocket Fold. I was glad to have some GPS route locations to follow, as I progressed, because the spot on the ridge where one starts the descent into Halls Valley (aka Grand Gulch) is not immediately obvious. However, the views from this ridge of the long valley below, and of Waterpocket Fold were magnificent. The sight of Halls Creek and surrounding cottonwoods, with the gently undulating pink and white sandstone mounds of the Fold behind was glorious in the early evening light. The steep route down from the ridge is quite sketchy, with one place where I had to lower my back-pack over a precipitous ledge. The descent wasn't a whole lot of fun, but eventually I scrambled down to solid ground.
(Day 15 20 miles, Total 211.1)

=====

I was very keen to reach Halls Valley the previous day, in order to give me sufficient time to take a half-day to head a few miles north to explore the famous Halls Creek Narrows. I decided to save some time later in the day by packing my rucksack before I set off on my day-hike. Although it was a beautiful, calm morning, I thought I would place my pack under the flysheet of my tent, just in case there was some rain later in the morning. Good plan ! It was a beautiful walk along the valley, and I really enjoyed splashing through the creek that runs between the steep walls that form the Narrows. It is a stunning area, and I wish I could have spent longer there.

Just as I was about to head back to camp from Halls Creek Narrows, I felt a strong breeze of wind, and I suddenly stopped dead in my tracks. I realized immediately that I had left my tent sitting in a wide open valley, completely unmoored (the ground was too hard for the stakes), and with literally nothing inside to weigh it down (my pack was outside the inner tent, under the flysheet). If there was any kind of wind, there was every chance that the tent would just float away on the breeze. Oh my goodness, what an idiot I'd been leaving my tent like that. Not such a good plan, after all !

As I jogged back to my campsite, the wind was getting stronger and stronger. I knew that the tent would be gone, it was just a matter of where it had blown to. I was seriously thinking about if it was feasible to continue my hike, without a tent. Could I sleep in caves or alcoves every night, for the next 2 weeks ? !! As expected, the tent had indeed blown away, and I returned to the sight of my lonely pack sitting where I had left it. I looked round at the huge surrounding valley, and realized that the tent could be literally anywhere, given the strength of the wind.

This was looking bad. I had lost my tent !
.
.
Stage 3 map v1n.png

.
.

Elevation Stage 3 v1.png

.
.
North Lake Powell 2017 and 2022 water level comparison
Stage 3 sat old v1n.png
.......
Stage 3 sat new v1n.png

.
.
My route along the middle of Lake Powell !
Stage 3 map 2 v1n.png

.
.
Heading along Highway 95
DSC07993_20pc.JPG

.
.
The road to (closed!) Hite Outpost that I had taken the previous evening to retrieve my resupply package
DSC07996_20pc.JPG

.
.
Heading along Highway 95, approaching the bridge to cross the Colorado River
DSC08002_20pc.JPG

.
.
The Colorado River, with the Henry Mountains in the distance
DSC08014_20pc.JPG

.
.
Heading along Highway 95
DSC08040_20pc.JPG

.
.
The muddy, scrubby expanse of what was once north Lake Powell
DSC08055_20pc.JPG

.
.
Debris from the bottom of the lake !
DSC08064_20pc.JPG

.
.
Previously, this section would have been impassable due to higher lake levels; now it's a white sand beach
DSC08084_20pc.JPG

.
.
Looking north along the Colorado River, from an upper bench
DSC08121_20pc.JPG

.
.
Looking south along the Colorado River, from an upper bench
DSC08131_20pc.JPG

.
.
Lake Powell hoodoo
DSC08137_20pc.JPG

.
.
Pelicans (?)
DSC08167_20pc.JPG

.
.
Baked, crumbly mud formed as the water levels drop
DSC08176_20pc.JPG

.
.
Fourmile Canyon
DSC08220_20pc.JPG

.
.
Fourmile Canyon
DSC08235_20pc.JPG

.
.
Mount Holmes in the Little Rockies Wilderness Study Area
DSC08276_20pc.JPG

.
.
Hoodoos in Fourmile Canyon
DSC08281_20pc.JPG

.
.
Petrified Wood
DSC08305_20pc.JPG

.
.
Mount Holmes
DSC08318_20pc.JPG

.
.
The saddle below Fred's Ridge
DSC08337_20pc.JPG

.
.
Mount Ellsworth
DSC08340_20pc.JPG

.
.
Mount Ellsworth
DSC08388_20pc.JPG

.
.
Ticaboo Lodge
DSC08393_20pc.JPG

.
.
Heading towards the Burr Trail
DSC08418_20pc.JPG

.
.
Waterpocket Fold above Halls Valley (aka Grand Gulch) from Hall Mesa
DSC08466_20pc.JPG

.
.
Halls Valley (aka Grand Gulch) from Hall Mesa
DSC08475_20pc.JPG

.
.
A secure (!) tent beneath Waterpocket Fold
DSC08487_20pc.JPG

.
.
Waterpocket Fold
DSC08511_20pc.JPG

.
.
Desert varnish in Halls Creek Narrows
DSC08545_20pc.JPG

.
.
Halls Creek Narrows
DSC08554_20pc.JPG
.......
DSC08558_20pc.JPG

.
.
"I would walk 500 miles,
And I would walk 500 more,
Just to be the man who walked a thousand
miles to fall down at your door" ... The Proclaimers
 

Jon Carbaugh

Member
.
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Messages
250
Crazy you can walk that far in where lake Powell used to be. That's only going to get worse... (or would that be "better")? Will they blow up the dam in my lifetime??? Can't wait to see if you ever found your tent!
 

Jammer

❤2Hike
.
Joined
Feb 23, 2012
Messages
642
Thanks for the shout-out and... Wowza -- I can't believe the river/lake was that low! I'd hoped to walk along the edge on my last hike through there a few years back and it was still impassable (another hiker told me story of super-scary mud along the way during her attempt.)

Looks like a great adventure -- thanks for sharing.
 
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
TrailScot "I Would Walk 500 Miles ..." - A Utah Adventure - April 2022 - Final Part Backpacking 7
TrailScot "I Would Walk 500 Miles ..." - A Utah Adventure - April 2022 - Part 5 Backpacking 3
TrailScot "I Would Walk 500 Miles ..." - A Utah Adventure - April 2022 - Part 4 Backpacking 5
TrailScot "I Would Walk 500 Miles ..." - A Utah Adventure - April 2022 - Part 2 Backpacking 4
TrailScot "I Would Walk 500 Miles ..." - A Utah Adventure - April 2022 - Part 1 Backpacking 5
Perry Confused by my Heart Rate During a Brisk Walk General Discussion 3
Brian Bucca Tips for scoring a walk in permit for Teton Crest trail Trip Planning 0
wabenho Snowy December Walk in the Wasatch Hiking & Camping 7
scatman Red Butte Canyon Rim-Walk - May 20, 2017 Hiking & Camping 10
Vegan.Hiker A Walk in the Gunks Hiking & Camping 11
IntrepidXJ BLM re-evaluates walk-in permits for The Wave, considers online alternative General Discussion 0
balzaccom Do you speak up? Do you walk by? General Discussion 13
H Odds of getting a walk-in permit in Glacier NP? Trip Planning 1
Dan_85 Grand Canyon "walk in" backcountry permits Trip Planning 6
Nick Tightrope walk over the Grand Canyon? General Discussion 0
Michael Coyote Buttes North walk-in lottery General Discussion 0
Tater Head $500.00 dollars... Photography 23
napatony13 1100 Miles, 43 Days, Summits All 58 14ers in Colorado General Discussion 4
Born to Hike 85 miles on the Uinta Highline Trail including Crater Lake and a Dinosaur: July 26 - Aug 1, 2020 Backpacking 33
Yvonne Hiking Yellowstone - 100 miles the Second Trip Planning 21
RyanP 3-day trip ideas (15-20 miles or so) for late May/early June with good water Trip Planning 9
Born to Hike Backpacking Northern Windriver Range, solo 60+ miles, 5 days, mid September 2018 Backpacking 17
tomcat32 Weminuche Wandering- 95 miles Backpacking the Weminuche Wilderness Backpacking 7
Jackson Backcountry Vehicle Miles Per Year General Discussion 8
isleroyaleguy 170 Miles in the Sierra Nevada Backpacking 22
balzaccom Cycling miles....5,000 for the year Everything Else 9
steve Wind Rivers Traverse - Backpacking 90 miles in the Wind Rivers Backpacking 102
Parma Most Miles Hiked in a Day General Discussion 31
hikerboy maine-100 miles wilderness- a week in the woods Backpacking 6
WasatchWill 100 Miles From Nowhere General Discussion 5
Parma Think I can get 50 miles out of West, Middle, and Amethyst? General Discussion 5
steve Urban Paddling: 3 miles on the Jordan River in Taylorsville, UT On The Water 3
natylka 100 miles of Highline trail in Uintas Trip Planning 39
natylka 23 miles of GrandDaddy Basin and Four Lakes Backpacking in July Backpacking 2
natylka Backpacking: Hurricane Wash into Coyote Gulch of 26 miles back in May Backpacking 3
natylka 24 Miles Weekend Backpacking at Red Castle in August Backpacking 9
natylka Hiking 25 miles at Capitol reef for the weekend. Hiking & Camping 19
Blake Merrell 50 miles of High Uinta Majesty! - A dream come true. Backpacking 24
WasatchWill Park City to Provo - 65 miles in 4 days Backpacking 22
Christian 1,764 Miles Across Utah and Arizona Hiking & Camping 6
DAA 5 nights, 50 miles in the Uintas Backpacking 27
Go-deep North Ogden divide over Mount Ogden to 29th T/H 26 miles Backpacking 3
abstractreality Exercise and preparing for mountain miles? General Discussion 6

Similar threads

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Top