Today was a hard day. We start off in Monday Canyon above a pour off and the going is slow as we crawl up the slope and over a number boulders and scree to get around the area with the pour offs.
It is hard walking especially when you are carrying extra water. We knew we were dry camping last night and carried eight liters each from Mudhole Spring yesterday afternoon. We were both conservative with water drinking only one liter in the afternoon and one liter for both dinner and breakfast.
So today I am carrying six liters of water which still means an extra weight of 13.2 pounds in my pack. We are about 23 miles away from the next dependable source of water in Last Chance Creek. Our aspirational goal is to make it there tonight. Realistically, if we drink two liters today we will have enough for another dry camp tonight as long as we get to Last Chance Creek tomorrow morning.
We soon figure out there is no way we are going to hike 23 miles today. If it were road or easy trail we can hike three miles per hour but if it is climbing around pour offs and over large boulders we are lucky to make one mile an hour.
Monday Canyons pouroffs eventually dump us into Rogers Canyon which starts off in sandstone but as we wind down the canyon it opens up into the muds.
The Kaiparowits Plateau is becoming known as the “Dinosaur Shangri-La” because of the sheer number of well-preserved, unique fossils that have been found there. We are in the Cretaceous muds, the Kaiparowits Formation, rich in bones of tyrannosaurs, duck-billed dinosaurs, and horned-face dinosaurs including the Kosmoceratops richardsoni, a dinosaur that had 15 horns and spikes on its head. Although this area appears to be badlands now, it was a steamy swampy coastal forest about 75 million years ago. The contrast is sharp.
The sandstone from the cliffs above have dropped into the creek bed so we are not making great time as we scramble over boulders. The soft Cretaceous muds that preserve the dinosaurs so well does not hold up the sandsone beds above it and as the muds erode, the sandstone blocks have fallen from above.
There is some water in upper Rogers Canyon and Ray and I collect some water and use our Lifestraws. The Lifestraw is a personal water filter that allows you to drink directly from a stream and removes 99.9% of waterborne bacteria and protozoan parasites. This includes E-coli, Giardia and Cryptosporidium. It only weighs 2 oz and is worth it’s weight in gold out here (ok so maybe it doesn’t weigh much….).
Uggh. This I some of the worst water I have ever tasted. A very bitter aftertaste.
The hiking becomes easier down canyon in Rogers and Croton Canyon. But now we have to start up Navajo Canyon. Back up the geologic section we go and of course run into huge blocks and pouroffs again after several miles of fairly easy walking through badlands.
This is not my favorite canyon. It is full of tumbleweeds which prick your legs through your pants.
And we are tired and dehydrated when we start the new crawling over house sized boulders. Eventually the canyon tightens up and we get to a 30-foot pour off we can’t get past.
By now it is late afternoon. Ray starts looking for a way past the pour off which will mean backtracking quite a ways to find a way to get past the ledge that is creating the pour off. I am ready to just try and go for it. He is making better decisions today. Glad we check each other. We backtrack and Ray finds a way up through the cliff band.
Then we look on the map. There is an old Jeep Trail on top of the ridge. On the map it looks like we can get to the Jeep Trail and hike that for a few miles where it intersects our route.
So that is what we did and it worked. We hiked 17.7 really tough miles. We are still six miles away from water but should be at Last Chance Creek in the morning. Just like the tumbleweeds gathered in Navajo Canyon today, we roll into bed. This was one tiring day.