Maidenwater Canyon

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

Nick

Spiral out.
.
Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,688
This is going to be the first of three trip reports from a backpacking trip I took to the Lake Powell/Bullfrog area this past weekend. We covered so much terrain and saw so many unique sections of canyon. It would just be too much to stuff into one trip report, instead I'll do one on Maidenwater Canyon, one on Trachyte Creek and one on Swett Creek.

Part 2: Trachyte Creek
Part 3: Swett Creek

April 2012

This trip got bumped around a bit leading up to it. We had originally planned it for the weekend of the April 15th but nasty weather forced it back a week. Luckily, a big high pressure moved in just as the trip began and we had perfect weather all the way through. Unfortunately, DOSS and some things come up at the last minute so it ended up just being myself and my old friend Nate with his dog, Sonny.

We made it down to The Swell a little before sunset and decided to camp at Uneva Canyon for the night before heading on to Maidenwater. It was a little windy and I was hoping being right up against the reef would keep us sheltered. It did. We had a bit of time before dark so we hiked up and checked out the Uneva Mine.

maidenwater-canyon-1.jpg


We didn't bring a light with us so we used my cel phone light and hiked in a hundred feet or so.
maidenwater-canyon-2.jpg


maidenwater-canyon-4.jpg


As we started hiking back out, I realized I was missing a killer sunset so I stepped it up and practically ran most of the way out of the canyon.
maidenwater-canyon-6.jpg


The view of the sunset from camp at the mouth of Uneva Canyon.
maidenwater-canyon-7.jpg


The last of it as Venus makes it's appearance.
maidenwater-canyon-8.jpg


We were up so late that night. I don't get out with Nate often and when we do, it always seems to end in a late night. But we made pretty good time and started heading back down the nasty road to from Uneva Canyon.
maidenwater-canyon-9.jpg


We made a quick stop for gas in Hanksville and were on our way with the exception of a quick stop to do a favor for a friend. Jamal over at www.acrossutah.com (@Jammer here on backcountrypost) had just started an epic backpacking trip from Bryce Canyon to Moab and we were lucky enough to help by stashing a cache of supplies for him along the way. If you haven't checked out Jamal's videos from his long backpacking trips, you are missing out!
maidenwater-canyon-10.jpg


We made it to Maidenwater where we dumped the packs, myself and Sonny while Nate took the truck over to the trailhead at Swett Canyon where we would finish the hike. We threw in my wife's bicycle for him to pedal the 4 miles back.

So while Nate was cruising through the desert getting weird looks from passing cars, Sonny and I sat under a small Juniper, out of sight from the main road and waited. After about an hour Nate was back, the bike was stashed and we were on our way down into Maidenwater Canyon.

The first thing we noticed was the impressive bridge construction where SR 276 goes over the top of the canyon.
maidenwater-canyon-11.jpg


I totally figured it was just a culvert with a ton of debris on top but they had actually filled the canyon with debris and tunneled all the way through a bend in the canyon.
maidenwater-canyon-12.jpg


maidenwater-canyon-13.jpg


The first half hour or so was nice. Basically just a shallow slot with an occasional bit of narrows. There was one spot with a small dryfall that is easily bypassed on the left. A while after that, and downstream from the confluence with North Fork Maidenwater, we encountered this very large dryfall. I would guess it at about 50-60 feet. Fortunately there was a nice trail on the left that you can see in this photo.
maidenwater-canyon-15.jpg


That trail led to this slick rock down-climb which was a little sketchy with big packs but otherwise fine.
maidenwater-canyon-16.jpg


Below the dryfall, the canyon started to get deeper and more narrow.
maidenwater-canyon-19.jpg


There were occasional obstacles but nothing major.
maidenwater-canyon-21.jpg


maidenwater-canyon-22.jpg


maidenwater-canyon-23.jpg


maidenwater-canyon-24.jpg


Soon we got to a point where cottonwoods were everywhere. This was soon followed by the first flowing water in the canyon.
maidenwater-canyon-26.jpg


maidenwater-canyon-27.jpg


maidenwater-canyon-28.jpg


maidenwater-canyon-29.jpg


One of the deeper pools. I don't think we were ever forced into anything deeper than about waist deep.
maidenwater-canyon-30.jpg


maidenwater-canyon-31.jpg


maidenwater-canyon-32.jpg


Check out this amazing Cottonwood that has managed to grow in this dark section of the canyon.
maidenwater-canyon-33.jpg


maidenwater-canyon-34.jpg


We didn't see anyone else in the canyon this day but we there were a couple sets of footprints. About 2/3 of the way through, we came upon a message in the sand that read "Hi :) on weed". Particularly amusing as it was April 20th. :)
maidenwater-canyon-35.jpg


The best narrows in the canyon were all above the wet portion but it was still a beautiful and very pleasant hike.
maidenwater-canyon-36.jpg


Towards the end of the canyon, we came upon a side canyon called Blushing Bride. It ends at a large, incredibly deep pot hole. This one looked like it was at least 15 feet deep. We dare each other to take a dip but it was in the shade and looked kinda hard to get back out of.
maidenwater-canyon-37.jpg


Looking up at the final slide in Blushing Bride
maidenwater-canyon-39.jpg


Lower Maidenwater was loaded with springs, seeps and hanging gardens.
maidenwater-canyon-40.jpg


maidenwater-canyon-41.jpg


Sonny at a waterfall
maidenwater-canyon-42.jpg


Sonny splashing into the pool below that waterfall. :)
maidenwater-canyon-43.jpg


Further down, we got to a section where water was pouring down from all around the river. It was very cool but also very slippery.
maidenwater-canyon-45.jpg


Finally the canyon widened up and the river flattened out for the final stretch before reaching Trachyte Creek.
maidenwater-canyon-46.jpg


Looking back up at Maidenwater Canyon from Trachyte Creek
maidenwater-canyon-47.jpg


It was already getting pretty late in the day at this point. We were waiting to see the water quality in Trachyte Creek before deciding how much further to hike. If it was really silty like it often is, we would need to camp nearby Maidenwater or much further down at Woodruff Canyon, the next reliable source of water. But to our surprise, Trachyte was crystal clear. So we decided to just start heading down canyon and land where we land. The best way to backpack.

This was part 1/3 of this trip. Keep an eye out for my trip report on the Trachyte and Swett Creek sections in the next few days.

Continue reading parts 2 and 3:

Part 2: Trachyte Creek
Part 3: Swett Creek
 

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

Joined
Jan 23, 2012
Messages
601
Definately can't wait for the remaining 2/3! Love the greenery on the canyon walls.
 

DOSS

out
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
292
So sad I missed this :(
 

Waynee-ack

Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2012
Messages
128
This looks like a lot of fun. I like the Uneva Mine, I have never been there but need to make a trip and check it out. Looking forward to the other 2/3.
 

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

Philippe

Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2012
Messages
193
Very nice report and a lot of great pictures, Nick, thank you for sharing !

As you encouraged me to post on your thread my own experience about a short hike in Maidenwater canyon that I did in June 2009, here it is.

I was travelling all alone and my plan was to do a loop through Lower Maidenwater Canyon and Trachyte Creek during the morning.
From Hwy 276, I hiked down to the eastern entrance of the tunnel under the highway. I wanted to take this picture of the western entrance of the tunnel from inside :

Maidenwater Canyon -Tunnel ME.jpg


To get there, I had to walk in the dark tunnel but as I could see the light at the end I was confident that my eyes would progressivly be used to the dark and that I could walk cautionoulsly without using the headlamp that was deep inside my backpack. That worked well for more than a half of the tunnel when suddenly I felt in a big hole that was as tall as I am (6 feet) and partly filled with cold and dirty water. That was not fun to be alone in that totally dark hole with water until my breast and I was upset about my stupidity for having let my headlamp in my pack instead of using it. Fortunately, I was not injured, I had just several hurts, some scratched skin and a quite painful twisted finger (that I could not use for several days) so it was not too difficult to get out of the hole.

I took my picture and at the western exit of the tunnel I found this note written by a guy named Dave (maybe a member of this forum ?) :

Maidenwater Canyon - Warning ME.jpg


Thank you Dave for this warning, but unfortunately it was too late for me as I was coming from the opposite entrance of the tunnel.

On my way back in the tunnel, I didn't fall again in the hole and I hiked the pleasant Lower Maidenwater Canyon until I was blocked by a shocked stone overlooking a big pool about 8 feet below.

Maidenwater Canyon - Pool ME.jpg


I didn't know how deep was this pool, I didn't want to jump in it with my camera equipment in my backpack, I knew that I couldn't climb up this obstacle in case of necessity because it was a difficult overhang and one of my finger was twisted, I couldn't find an easy way to circumnavigate it, It was not a lucky day for me, so I decided to get back to my car by the same way that I came. Here are some pictures that I took during this short hike :

Maidenwater Canyon - Mud ME.jpg


Maidenwater Canyon - Greenery 1 ME.jpg


Maidenwater Canyon - Stones ME.jpg


Maidenwater Canyon - Reflected light 1 ME.jpg
 

Nick

Spiral out.
.
Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,688
Beautiful shots, Philippe! That is crazy about the tunnel having a big hole in the floor like that! We thought about walking through it but didn't and now I am glad!
 
Joined
Feb 11, 2012
Messages
125
nicker-diddle and phillipe, nice tag-team photo action.

i'm more stoked on the canyon now than when i was in there last weekend, partly due to the fact that our party had to turned around after the first set of narrows.
we invited some desert "rookies" along for trip and their youngest kid ended up folding on the "false" promise of there being water around the next bend. if we had only gone around one more bend beyond the cottonwood trees. nobody wants to hear the wails of a 4 year old in such a serene place of beauty...

Phillipe:
...That was not fun to be alone in that totally dark hole with water until my breast and I was upset about my stupidity for having let my headlamp in my pack instead of using it
my dog ended up taking a header into that pothole. for those keeping score, its bone-dry as of last weekend. the sound of her falling in echoed throughout the tunnel making it sound like she fell down a mineshaft. of course we had no headlamp with us. i had to use the camera flash to figure out what happened. that is one serious hazard sans headlamp.
 

Nick

Spiral out.
.
Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,688
Oh that sucks about your dog! Was it tough to get him back out of the hole? Seems like this is one case where scratching something into sandstone might actually be appropriate. That tunnel looks so innocent as you start walking through....
 

Philippe

Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2012
Messages
193
my dog ended up taking a header into that pothole. for those keeping score, its bone-dry as of last weekend. the sound of her falling in echoed throughout the tunnel making it sound like she fell down a mineshaft. of course we had no headlamp with us. i had to use the camera flash to figure out what happened. that is one serious hazard sans headlamp.
I hope that your dog is doing well, a fall in that hole without water could have hurt him.

A warning at both ends of the tunnel could be a godd idea.
 
Joined
Feb 11, 2012
Messages
125
she alright, no serious injuries, maybe a bruised ego i'd imagine.
yeah, it took a one-ring circus clown act to get her out. she was scared stiff, which made it all that much more difficult for extraction. so yeah, always have a headlamp stashed in the daypack. the glow of the AF beam won't cut it.
 

Michael

Alien from over the pond...
.
Joined
Sep 5, 2012
Messages
840
View attachment 2226

I didn't know how deep was this pool, I didn't want to jump in it with my camera equipment in my backpack, I knew that I couldn't climb up this obstacle in case of necessity because it was a difficult overhang and one of my finger was twisted, I couldn't find an easy way to circumnavigate it, It was not a lucky day for me, so I decided to get back to my car by the same way that I came. Here are some pictures that I took during this short hike :
We did this hike in June 2010. The water in that pool has had 1 meter of depth and was refreshingly cool. A lot of amphibian life was inside - size up to table tennis ball.
A wooden piece of debris, gave us access to the pool.

BTW, very nice TRs and pictures, Nick and Philipe. :twothumbs:
THX for sharing.
 

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

Similar threads

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

Top