We have started the third section out of fourteen on our 800-mile Hayduke hike. We are hiking from the Canyonlands Visitor Center in the Needles District through Salt Creek Canyon in Canyonlands through Dark Canyon Wilderness to Hite Crossing at Lake Powell. The third section will take us about 6 days.
We pick up our Park service permit this morning before heading out. We had tried yesterday but the Visitor Center closed at 3:00 pm and we didn’t get there until 4 pm after doing our vehicle shuttle. You can really see that the Park Service’s budget just keeps getting cut and they are really operating on a shoestring.
We start hiking at 9am in the cool overcast morning. The hike starts off on a closed dirt road in the sand and then the trail starts winding its way through the canyon. We take a break at Peekaboo Spring. The rock art here is fascinating. The rock art is located near a window in the canyon wall as it makes a wide turn around a rock wall. We later see other rock art associated with windows in these rock walls and spectulate about a landscape connection. The rock art covers a wide range from Barrier Canyon Style which are the very old (Archaic, 3,000 to 5,000 years old) and are ghost like figures, to more recent (1,000 years old) Fremont Style or Ancestral Puebloan. The old ghost figures, of course, fascinate us the most.
We get to camp by mid to late afternoon. After setting up camp we decide that it is only 4pm so we have time to do a quick 2-mile hike up a side canyon to see the Angel Arch. Many people are surprised to learn that Canyonlands also has arches. Angel Arch is perhaps the most famous arch which people used to drive to it (with permission from the Park Service). Now the road is closed off and the only way to really see it is by backpacking. Unless you are an ultra runner, of course. We get to the arch as the sun is stepping away and throwing rainbows at Angel Arch.
It is absolutely stunning. We head back to camp where we are entertained by skittish deer. I really like this canyon. We will have to come back.