Ticaboo Creek, May 2024

Oct 6, 2021
Hi folks, this report is for my solo trip to Ticaboo Creek via the South Fork trailhead, May 23–27, 2024. It was indeed a bit late in the season, but I got lucky and temperatures were reasonable; highs in the upper 80s. A week later the forecast highs were well over 100.

Photography this time was my phone, because it was easy. I already had the phone on for maps (CalTopo), also a first. I think it turned out okay and I plan to lean in on this for the time being because it’s just so much easier than a separate camera.

It was a five-day trip and I’ll do each day in a separate post in this thread.

However, I’ll start with something that I want to be location-vague about. I came across a large mudstone (?) inclusion in one of the sandstones, which in itself was very cool, but while crossing the area, I looked down and at my feet was something that sure as hell looked like the cast of a dinosaur track! The rock was the right age, but I didn’t see other fossils anywhere in that layer. It could 100% be just a coincidentally shaped rock.

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“Dino track” side A.

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“Dino track” side B.

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Some of the surrounding rocks.

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More surrounding rocks.

Day 1

I had stayed overnight at Recapture Lodge in Bluff and got up bright and early at ... we’ll just skip that part.

Weigh-in on the Recapture patio. Note units — kilograms.

Part of the problem might be that I brought four (4) books.

It took just under four hours to drive from Bluff to the trailhead, including 45 minutes on a pretty rough dirt road. There were lots of roads not on the map and it would have been rough (ha!) without my GPS. It’s a windswept, not particularly pleasant trailhead.

On-trail finally at 1345. The plan was to hike downstream to what Kelsey calls Wall Spring just after the confluence with North Fork, or perhaps the mouth of Peshliki Fork a little further.

No views at the trailhead either. Mt Ellsworth.

Me looking prepared, or something. Mt Holmes in the background.

The trail is somewhat easy to follow down to the South Fork Ticaboo wash. It is not in good shape though. If you get off-trail, there are lots of cairns to choose from.

Looking up-canyon from where the trail meets the wash.

While looking for a late lunch spot, there was a sudden explosion of flapping bird wings. I thought quickly, realized it was a mama quail trying to distract me, and turned around just in time to see a couple of chicks scurry under the brush.

Somewhere in the South Fork of Ticaboo Creek.

One of several short, crack-style side canyons. I understand these get rather spectacular upstream from the access trail.

Desert varnish on river left.

One of several dry meadows as the wash enters the Kayenta.

Entering the Wingate Sandstone.

While it was only a three-hour hike to camp, and my pack wasn’t that unreasonable, it was remarkably difficult. I couldn’t figure out why other than I must be less fit than usual. It’s also plausible I was a bit dehydrated — it was in the 80s but not super hot.

I’d planned to check out both Wall Spring and Peshliki before selecting a campsite, but skipped the latter and found some nice cottonwoods in front of an alcove near Wall Spring. “Bat Camp” had running water, afternoon shade by 1700, and morning shade until 1000. (I later saw no good campsites near Peshliki, so that would have been a waste of effort anyway.)

First item of business once in camp was to recline for an extended period.

Looking upstream from my kitchen area.

Dinner was macaroni and cheese, which was both easy and delicious.

Sunset on Day 1.

Two remarkable events happened before I turned in.

First, I learned that I should call it Bat Camp because the place was absolutely swarming with bats. I even had one fly between me and my food.

Second, there were also lots of curious toads around. One even hopped up right next to me and let me pet her. (I’m pretty sure it was a her because later in the trip there was some toad humping and the ones with those markings were on the bottom.)