Today felt like a survivor game. Only a survivor game usually includes palm trees, coconuts and beaches. We had none of that. We knew we had a tough day ahead as our plan has us climbing up near 3000 feet and hiking over 18 miles to get to the next reliable water source. We are headed from the beautiful Salt Creek Canyon in Canyonlands up into the high plateau of Beef Basin. Beef Basin is a geographically remote area that is very hard to access unless you have a 4-wheel drive or mountain bike. It is known for it’s Ancestral Puebloan structures and rock art sites. We plan to stop at “Big Spring” (I love these original names!) will put us in a good position to drop into Dark Canyon. Dark Canyon was named because the high steep walls narrow so much in the lower section they block the light in the morning and afternoon. Ray and I have been in the lower part of Dark Canyon before and know how spectacular it is.
The storm has blown in cold air so we wonder about snow in the high country as we will be climbing to over 8600 feet today. We get enough water from the nearby spring to make a dry camp if we need to.
For us in these colder conditions, 3 liters each will get us through to the next morning.
The morning has us route finding up the east fork of Salt Creek Canyon.
We have left the main Canyonlands Trail and are now headed cross country. It is slow going when you are route finding. We eventually find the old trail that was on the topo map and the 4wd road up on the plateau.
Well you would think finding a road would make traveling easier but not today.
The roads are saturated from the earlier rain and they go through the Chinle and Moenkopi Triassic muds. Have you ever tried to walk with a backpack on in several inches of slimy mud that cakes on your shoes? It is like having dead weights on the bottoms of your feet that slide everytime you take a step. Luckily we had hiking poles to keep us upright. Hiking like this for hours is exhausting. And slow.
We eventually stop several miles short of the Big Spring and set up for a cold night at high elevation. Brrr….