Salt Creek Aug 2013


May 14, 2013
Salt Creek

The plan: My two sons and I start at Cathedral Butte, hike down salt creek to Angel arch, and then back out to Cathedral Butte.

I reserved three different campsites for seven nights. SC2 one night, SC3 one night, SC4 4 nights, then SC2 one night on the way out.

The main points that I wanted to see were the all American man and Angel Arch. Exploring all the way. Open to changes in the plan.
Saturday morning we got up and on the road by nine. Drove the Jeep with the Jeep trailer so we would have room for our packs. We wanted to stop at Rays in Green River for lunch. They don’t open until 11:00. Seems like two hours from bountiful and we made it right on time. Burgers, fries, and cokes all around. Then on the road to Cathedral Butte.

I was planning on stopping at the visitor center in Needles to check in before going to the trail head. This seemed like a waste of time so I called them. As long as I had all my paperwork they said I could just go to the trail head without going to the visitor center.

Found the rangers Jeep at the tail head. No one had signed the register in weeks. Sunny and hot. High puffy clouds. Beautiful place. We grabbed our packs and headed down.

To me the hike down from Cathedral Butte and through the marsh is the crappy part of the hike. Thankfully the ranger had just been through and placed orange streamers that we followed through the marsh. A large rain storm must have been through the week before us because the grass in the bottom was all brushed down and there was still a considerable amount of mud around. We saw lots of fresh bear crap and tracks in this part. About half way through the marsh we saw a bear about a hundred yards away on the east side of the canyon. As soon as he saw us he was gone. No picture.

One concern we had was finding water mid Aug in Canyon Lands. I did not have a thermometer but at times it got pretty wicked hot. I was relieved that the springs at Kirk's cabin and the one near campsite 3 were really flowing.
I figure they were flowing because of the monsoon rains. Looking on the map I thought that there was a "pool or pond" near SC4 but all we found was a small bit of moving water about a half a mile south of the camp site. We found water up Angle arch canyon and about a third of the way from arch canyon to peek-a-boo. The spring near peek-a-boo was very dry. All we could find there was some stuff that looked like green jell-o or wet green shag carpet. We did not even try there. I used a platypus inline filter and it worked great. At one point we filtered 23 liters of water in fifteen/twenty minutes. I took a MSR pump as back up but never used it.
Weather wise I love going to Canyon Lands in Aug. It is hot but the days are long. We would hike in the morning then hunker down in some shade and take naps when it was really hot. We would explore in the evening. Around noon big clouds would roll in and it would threaten to rain. It rained on us once hiking, once while we were napping, and once in the middle of the night. Each time it lasted less than a half an hour.

There is no one around in Aug. We saw the ranger on our second day. He checked our papers and that was it. The next six days we never saw anyone. In fact the last person to sign in at the All American Man was five weeks earlier. Once we passed the ranger we did not see any other human tracks until Peek-a-boo.

Here is a fresh bear track that was really big. The sand was dry. Look at how crisp it is in the wrinkles of the pad. I think he was just ahead of us on the trail.
When you go and no one has been around for awhile the animals seem to forget that they are scared of us. We saw the bear, a big old coyote, several deer, lots of rabbits, squirrels, birds, frogs, and lizards. We never had a problem with them trying to get our food until we got to squaw flat where an obese chipmunk ate a hole in my sons back pack.
We got to Angel arch in the afternoon and the sun was right behind the arch. Pictures were hard to get. This is my favorite arch.

We did not take a tent just two tarps. We slept on one and had one to pull over us if it rained. It was the peak of the Perseid meteor shower. Every night when we went to sleep we watched spectacular shooting stars. I am envious of the star trails I see on other people’s trip reports. My camera will not do long exposures. I wish I could have done some this trip.

Camp site SC1 is much better than SC2. SC2 is out in the middle of the valley with minimal shade. SC1 is up near the rocks with trees (pictured below).
SC3 is a great site but very little shade. We had to rig up a tarp for shade.
SC4 was up under big old cotton woods. Cool you think, until you look around at all the big dead branches that had fallen all over camp. Then you look up into the trees and see lots of big dead branches. We figured once we got crushed by one of those the bears would acquire a taste for human flesh and no one would ever be able to hike this canyon again.

The camp site just north of Angel Arch canyon is nice but again under big old cotton woods.

Peek-a-boo is exposed and hotter than hell in the middle of the day.

In places the trail was hard to follow because the vegetation in the bottom of the canyon is so thick.

This is the coolest piece of pottery that I have ever seen. I don't know how they made that design.

Right before we left for the hike my brother said he would meet us at Peek-a-boo and shuttle us around to the jeep. So we scraped our plans to return to Cathedral Butte and decided to hike out the bottom. We hiked from Angel arch canyon to peek-a-boo the day before he was to show up. When we got there it was really hot. We had moved too far from the mountains to get any clouds and there was no water. The boys took advantage of the pit toilet but it was so hot inside they almost died. They said they sweated more in the few min they were in there than they had the rest of the trip. Our interest in staying at Peek-a-boo was zero.

The trail from peek-a-boo to squaw flat looks simple on the map. It is not. The national geographic map I had said it was a moderate hike. Moderate sounded doable. Well after hiking nine miles in the heat we found it to be more than moderate. The trail from peek-a-boo goes up and up. Are you kidding me, up more?
We left Angel arch camp with six liters each. We shared our last water about a mile from squaw flat.


It was a fantastic hike. We ended up spending one night at SC1, two nights at SC3, two nights at SC4, and one night at Angle arch canyon then one night at squaw flat. I wanted to spend more time at SC4 but the ranger said that is where he sees bears most often. I kind of got chicken and did not stay as long as I wanted. We wanted to explore up the west fork but the bottom of the canyon was so choked with vegetation that it would have taken a couple of hours to get through it. Then add the specter of walking into a bear we moved on.

Doing it as a through hike was nice. I really did not want to hike back out through the marsh and then up the side of the mountain.

A big thanks goes out to my Brother for coming down to drive us back up to the top to get my jeep. Thank you Glasshunter.

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Awesome trip report! That's quite a long stretch out there in the hot summer heat - well done! Really brings back memories and makes me want to get back out there!
Did you notice my obligatory picture of the All American Man?
You must have been there just ahead of my friend and I!! Good to know about SC3....we plan to spend 3 days there next year!! Great report!!
Nice report! I'm surprised you saw so many signs of bears. You'd think they'd all be chillin' up in the Abajos during the heat of summer.

I was thinking the same thing. The canyon must have everything that they need and they are happy.
I am pretty sure that they are very shy and perhaps scared of us. I was surprised that we saw one. It is posted every where to lock up your food so they don't get use to us.

You must have been there just ahead of my friend and I!! Good to know about SC3....we plan to spend 3 days there next year!! Great report!!

When we were leaving on Sat night it looked like bad weather up at the top. I believe that you wrote about that.
I was thinking the same thing. The canyon must have everything that they need and they are happy.
I am pretty sure that they are very shy and perhaps scared of us. I was surprised that we saw one. It is posted every where to lock up your food so they don't get use to us.

We were there Memorial Day weekend, and only saw a pile of scat and some diggings. They probably go out of their way to avoid people (unless they are tempted by irresponsible campers), and since the canyon doesn't see too much foot traffic it's probably easy enough for them to stay out of sight. That makes it even cooler that you saw one!
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