For a long time I have wanted to hike the Kaiparowits Plateau. The Kaiparowits Plateau is a banded cliff and mesa that parallels the Escalante River for about 50 miles.
It rises above the Hole-in-the-Rock road people use to access the canyons in the Escalante drainage. Everyone focuses on the canyons and slots and virtually no one looks up and says what’s up there? Can I get there?
Can I get there is part of the crux. There are very few ways to get up on the Fiftymile Bench and on to the Plateau. We take one of them today.
We start off at the Hurricane Wash Trailhead we came out of two days ago but instead of heading into the Escalante canyons we turn west towards Fiftymile Bench. There is an ATV Trail we start off on that goes mostly straight up to a bench where there has been recent work to create earthen dams in several of the drainages to water cows. Pretty soon we are on a pack trail that also follows the angle of repose through a break in the cliff. We climb over 3000 feet in less than two miles and then are above the cliff bands on a flat sandy bench full of sagebrush and juniper pines.
It feels remote up here I think as I look down on Coyote Gulch and think of all the people down there.
We hike for another mile and a half to Mudhole Spring which will be our last water for about 30 miles. There is an old line cabin there and a pipe buried in soil coming out from the spring. It is a small clear trickle. We take the time to fill up eight liters of water each.
The packs are now a lot heavier as we have just added 17.6 additional pounds of weight. Kaiparowits Plateau has remained untouched partly because of access and lack of water.
We cross country from Mudhole Spring to Monday Canyon. Hey and we are here on a Monday! But Monday Canyon doesn’t care as she throws us her challenges with pouroffs and house-sized square blocks of sandstone.
It is a beautiful canyon but very slow going as we start hiking down canyon. We finally stop and make camp on a sandy ledge before another pour off we will need to hike around. We will save that one for the morning!