Hayduke Trail Day 17: Twisting and Turning, In Winds and Canyons

Daily Neat Beat
Day 17
Total Miles: 20.9
Cumulative Miles: 289.1
Map of Day 17, hiking from Muley Canyon, through Swap Canyon, up the Burr Trail Road to Muley Twist Canyon and partway down Muley Twist

This morning we wake up to gale force cold winds and we are camped in Cretaceous muds.

The fine Cretaceous muds blew around like flour in our tent after gale force winds and it was COLD!

Luckily our tent stayed up but the tent screen was no match for the fine silty clay that has decided to blanket us and our clothes not with warmth but with fine flour dust. At least we have water. I gorged myself last night and having just plain old water felt like a huge five star meal.

So we get up and get moving. Breakfast will have  to wait until the winds have died down and it is warmer. Whatever front has come through it has dropped the temperature significantly but came with little rain. The clouds boiled up, rolled through but did not release moisture. It is too bad for this area so badly needs it.
Today we will hike cross country, drop into Swap Canyon which will take us into Capital Reef National Park. We will hike the historic Burr Trail and Scenic Byway up the Waterpocket Fold. The Burr Trail was originally a cattle trail in the late 1800s but is now a Scenic Byway back road that connects Bullfrog Marina at Lake Powell to Boulder, Utah. It passes through beautiful desert areas that are otherwise impassable in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Capitol Reef National Park, and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Think painted desert, red rock canyons, and high mountains. It has stunning views and can be driven with a passenger car in good conditions.
Looking at the Burr Trail (switchbacks and road in middle of picture). We Climb up this road to access Lower Muley Twist Canyon which starts up by the red rock in the top left of the picture

We will hike the Burr Trail road up the Waterpocket Fold. Then we will hike down a canyon that parallels the Waterpocket Fold called Muley Twist. Muley Twist is a narrow, sinuous canyon that was thought to be narrow enough to twist a mule, hence the name “Muley Twist”.  I am looking forward to hiking through this canyon.

We work our way across the plateau that has a badlands look to it interspersed with juniper trees. I wonder what the route into Swap Canyon is like but it is fairly straightforward down a debris slope.
Entering Swap Canyon down a debris slope

We pass only the second spring we have seen on the west side of the Henry Mountains called Swap Canyon Springs. It is kind of mucky but could do in a pinch if you needed water.

Yay we made it to Capitol Reef National Park!

We are ok for now as we have a food and water cache coming up along the Burr Trail so we move on.

We get to the Burr Trail, go up the switch backs along the road and get to our food and water cache around 1:30pm. 
At the base of the Burr Trail Switchbacks about to hike up.

It takes us about an hour to eat lunch and repack our packs. We have now completed Section 5 of the Hayduke Trail and will start Section 6 in Muley Twist Canyon. 

Muley Canyon is as gorgeous as they say. It twists and turns with high red walls streaked with black varnish.
Lower Muley Twist Canyon gets narrow in places

The black varnish looks like the liquid chocolate on a ganache cake dripping down the sides of the canyon walls. 

Black varnish streaks on the walls on Muley Twist Canyon

This is what I always think of when I think about Utah canyon country. 

We spend several hours twisting through the canyon and find a nice spot up in the sand above the canyon. 
A great evening shot Ray gets near our camp. This is one of my favorite pictures he has taken so far.

It is a pleasant evening and so quiet after the winds of this morning. I think we will sleep well tonight.

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