Moody Canyons and The Fold

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Jammer

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No extended thru hike this spring for me. :( But... I did manage to get back to southern Utah for another 5-day loop exploring Escalante's "Lower East Side".

Actually... it wasn't really the trip I imagined. After I wimped out and couldn't make it over a dryfall climb solo, I had to ditch the plan to get all the way down toward (or even into) mid-Stevens Canyon and loop back via Halls Creek Narrows and the Red Slide. Instead I looped through the Moodys before finding another way to the top of Fold and then back to my Jeep.

Please check out the detailed trip report on my site if you want all the minutia. There's also an extended gallery with a bunch more photos. The Hike Video is also posted later in this thread. Otherwise here are the highlights from the trip:

I headed down the Moody Canyon road to car camp near Middle Moody Canyon and the Purple Hills

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I hiked down the semi-entrenched and mostly dry Middle Moody before hitting the junction of main Moody:
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More and more red boulders filled the streambed as I made my way toward the Escalante, but they never did really pose any major problems. Before too long I was to the river:
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Traveling downstream I fought the brush for a while. Eventually I just got in the water and headed downstream. Much easier -- though there were some spots with deep sand. Later the shoreline was more appealing with less brush and I quickly made my way down to the junction with East Moody where I camped:

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Next day I headed up East Moody. The first few miles are really spectacular. While chilling under a cottonwood I got to watch a humming bird on a nest.

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The mid and upper portions of East Moody are fairly wide open and dry with a good amount of petrified wood, but with little to no shade it's not a place one will likely enjoy in the summer:

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My goal was to go up an upper branch of a branch of this canyon to get up on top via the "Sheephunter Route" as described in Steve Allen's Guide. I was glad to find a nice trickle of a stream just before I had to climb up the unmarked ravine full of boulders:

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I passed a few bighorn sheep on the way up. When I got to the top I could see the 10' wall which needed to be scaled as described by Allen. BUT... before I could even get to that point my progress was stopped by a dryfall which had scoured out the floor below.

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I actually worked on that "assist" for about 30 minutes in order to double its height and make it more stable. Despite my effort I still didn't make it up. It was somewhat awkward the way the ledge was overhanging and there weren't any great handholds. Two people probably wouldn't have a problem here, but solo and w/o a SPOT or communication device (and no planned check-in for a week!)... I played it safe and chickened out.

With that I backtracked to the middle of East Moody and then took the north branch which leads to a pass connecting to Middle Moody. The view toward Deer Point from the pass:

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From here I wanted to head northeast and explore another canyon which I thought may provide access to the Fold. I camped near the bottom where there was a nice little stream and at least one resident (tiny) rattlesnake:

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The next morning I headed up and was surprised to find cairns marking a faint trail up the canyon. The route primarily stayed on the high slopes above the creek before returning to the now-dry streambed above a dryfall:
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A little farther up I got worried when ahead I saw what appeared to be a 25' dryfall:

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But, upon closer inspection the pile of rocks on the right step up to about a 5' climb giving access to a ledge which leads to an easy ramp up (possibly constructed.) Only a short solo backpacker would have a problem with this obstacle.

Farther up canyon there were more pools of water and more dryfalls which had to be bypassed. Finally I decided to climb up just to get to the rim and easier terrain:

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I hiked around the head of the canyon and toward the ridge of the Waterpocket Fold. Unfortunately the terrain is so flat up there and covered with junipers it obstructs views to the incredible terrain on either side. I managed to get to a spot with a decent view down towards Hall Creek and on to Bullfrog Bay:
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From here I headed north. It was a slow grind across the flat trying to avoid juniper branches and patches of cactus. I finally got to the view I wanted... where the cliffs drop 500+ to the undulating terrain below as the Fold runs north. In behind stood Swap Mesa and above that Tarantula Mesa which looked small compared to the Henrys with fresh snow.

Pictures can't do this place justice -- especially on an overcast day like it was -- but here's a stitched panorama:

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And my camp:

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I was fortunate that the sun broke through for about the last 20 minutes of the day. It still wasn't enough to make for the best pictures, but it was magical in person:

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The next morning I enjoyed the view again from my tent:

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Then I decided for the second time in 3 days to play it safe. Instead of trying to find a way down the eastern side of the Fold and then hike back up the Red Slide, I decided to head back down the access canyon I came up to ensure that I had a known route and plenty of water (there was none up on top.)

This plan also let me check out the "North Pointy Point" as I called it -- the little tip that juts out toward Deer Point. Unfortunately the point isn't as prominent as it looks on the map making it semi-impossible to get the 270-degree view I had imagined. Here's my attempt:

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From here I trekked back toward the access canyon. Occasionally there were good views to the west, but mostly it was just a slog. Going back down was fairly uneventful and I was happy to have water. Once down where I started up, I followed an interesting branch of Middle Moody all the way down. It required several 6-10' drops, but nothing technical.

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Just after sundown I was back to the Jeep where I got to indulge in some of the 'heavy' food that I'd left behind.

It was a good hike, but I have to say that it's not a region I'd put high on the list to visit again (except for that awesome view of the Fold -- maybe accessed via the east.) Probably the best feature to the area is solitude -- I saw ZERO people in two days of driving and 5 days of hiking!

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Again -- for more see the detailed trip report on my site or the extended gallery.

Thanks,
- Jamal

Featured image for home page:
slide.jpg
 
Last edited:

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NateGeesaman

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Jan 20, 2012
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Way to roll with the challenges and make a great trip. That hummingbird nest is sweet! @slc_dan and I will be headed to Steven's Canyon next week and I did Halls Creek Narrows last week. This is so great to see all this new stuff in the neighborhood.
 

BJett

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your epic solo journeys are an inspiration.
 

Jammer

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Thanks, Guys.

Enjoy Stevens. It's probably best I didn't make it on this trip as I know I wouldn't have had enough time to enjoy it once I got down to that part of the loop. Can't wait to see what you find.

BTW -- I really want to know if it's possible to climb up the fold just south of the Red Slide. It definitely looked feasible from the top -- but the steepest section was hidden from view so I couldn't tell for sure. If anybody has high-res photos of Red Slide from Halls Creek I'd love to see them. Actually Nate, I think one of your Flickr shots may have been from this area.
 

slc_dan

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Thanks, Guys.

Enjoy Stevens. It's probably best I didn't make it on this trip as I know I wouldn't have had enough time to enjoy it once I got down to that part of the loop. Can't wait to see what you find.

BTW -- I really want to know if it's possible to climb up the fold just south of the Red Slide. It definitely looked feasible from the top -- but the steepest section was hidden from view so I couldn't tell for sure. If anybody has high-res photos of Red Slide from Halls Creek I'd love to see them. Actually Nate, I think one of your Flickr shots may have been from this area.

In the preface of Steve Allens route of Stevens, he talks about going up Red Slide as part of one of his long routes.

I think our own @Cody went up or down it too.
http://backcountrypost.com/forum/threads/halls-creek-loop-via-lower-muley-and-red-slide.2085/

https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zbgpWqwR40vA.kxg8Fkoe1WWU
 

Jammer

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...going up Red Slide as part of one of his long routes.
I don't mean Red Slide itself, I mean I want to try to get up the buttress that leaves Red Slide about 1/2 way up on the south side. I'd love to climb this up to top of the Circle Cliffs to connect the route from this trip.
 

Jammer

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chronologically, this was the next shot South of The Red Slide on my first visit. we took the airstrip route this time and thus missed out on The Red Slide. Lemme know your e-mail and I can send you a full res copy.
Thanks -- I can't believe you were just there right after I cleared out (and headed back again!) Wish I lived closer.

Re: photos though, I'm looking for the portion farther north. I think trying to get up any of the slickrock around Fountain Tanks or farther south would be too tough. I actually thought this other shot of yours was the right area, but now I see it is farther south than I thought.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nategeesaman/14257706894/in/photostream/

But, I just found a photo from Matt Lemke on Panoramio that covers the area I want to check out. I've cropped a portion below, but check out the full shot here: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/37808818

TheFold.jpg


Red Slide is in the bottom left and runs up through that gap on the right. I walked that entire upper-right skyline. That middle patch with all the vegetation is what looks like it would connect the top to the mid-section of Red Slide. But... the steepest part is near the bottom and not visible from the top so I didn't want to chance the route not going though with my limited water supply (but I still really think it would connect!) Another trip.
 

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Nick

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Really awesome, Jamal. This secures your spot as my hero for quite a bit longer. I've gotta ask though.... does the thought of a nice, mellow 10-20 mile backpack with other humans sound boring or what? Your easy going hikes are like the epic hike of my life! Forget about your big hikes!
 

Laura

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Fantastic TR-when I see your name I know it's a must read. Love the pics, especially the first one. Makes we want to drive into it Thelma and Louise style!
 

Jammer

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does the thought of a nice, mellow 10-20 mile backpack with other humans sound boring or what?
Per day, right?!

Truth is I'm a pretty mellow hiker as my pace is slower than most people I know. But, I do like long days. I love to crank out the late-day miles from 5-8pm -- ideally walking with the sun at my back.

And... I actually I do enjoy hiking with other people. It's just hard for me to synchronize with people who are willing to devote as much vacation time to rambling through the areas I like so much. I've had good trips with friends through the Narrows, Black Boxes, Death Hollow and The Buckskin (and some non-Utah spots.) Another factor is that I really love exploring new/different areas, but wouldn't want to risk somebody else's precious vacation days on an unknown area. If I'd taken friends on this last hike, I'd be hearing complaints for YEARS probably!

All that said -- I still hope to sync up with a BCP meet-up one of these days.
 

Curt

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Great trail report. I'm also another person for whom this would be classified as an epic trip. I'm going to go check out the full report on your website. I've enjoyed reading and watching the videos there about your long hikes.
 

Nick

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Great work on the video! I liked the natural sound choice.
 

Nick

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Hey @Jammer - I was just going through this report more and watched the video again. Again, really cool hike.

I have a question. You describe the parking area as being right there by the access gully. You also mentioned the trailhead had a car so you camped east of The Purple Hills that night. So why did you park so far away on the west side of the Purple Hills and walk the road to the trailhead? I figured it must be closed despite looking open on sat imagery, but then I re-read the part about camping east of the Purple Hills which means you must have been able to drive closer than you parked. See where my confusion is? So can you actually drive to the end of the road?

Here:
https://www.google.com/maps/place/37°37'49.0"N+111°01'12.7"W/@37.630282,-111.020196,564m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0

And if you went on the road split toward The Purple Hills, do you remember how far it still goes?

Thanks!!
 

CaptnKidd

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That looked like an amazing trip. Watching all these multi day hikes make me really want to get a larger backpack.

Loved the video, especially the Fold. That has always been one of my favorite places to visit, it was was very interesting to see it from the other side.
 

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