Day 2: Off the Beaten Path

Saturday April 22, 22.0mi/35.4km

Devil’s Garden Backcountry campsite (11.1/5320ft) to Lower Courthouse Wash (33.1/4060ft) (UT)

I was awake a little later than usual, at 7am. I think it will take me a couple days to get back into a routine. I had breakfast with a view, as my campsite was perched on a fin of slickrock. It was a cold morning, so I was hiking in a few layers, but after 20 minutes I dropped some layers when I arrived at my first arch, Double-O arch.

I saw two people at the arch, which was pretty surprising since it was only 8am and I was a couple hours from the trailhead. The next arch was Black Arch overlook.

I didn’t see an arch there but I think it might have collapsed, as they all will eventually.

I loved hiking across the fins of slickrock, it’s easy walking and you get a view.

I saw a few more people at Partition Arch, and one of them took my photo. Probably one of the few times on the Hayduke when l can get my photo taken.

Just around the corner was Navajo Arch.

Sometimes the trail squeezed through these little slots between the rocks.

I hiked on another 10 minutes and then started seeing dozens and dozens of people. But I came around the corner and thought Landscape Arch, probably the most photographed arch in Utah. It’s huge!

There were two more arches that I don’t remember the names of.

I arrived at the trailhead and parking lot shortly after, where I saw hundreds of cars. Yuck. I refilled my water bottles, emptied my trash, used the bathroom, and then continued on. I walked the road for about a mile and then turned off to follow a gas pipeline route cross-country.

It was actually really scenic, and nice to be away from all the people and cars. After an hour of that I came to a fenceline, which was the boundary of Arches National park.

I made a hard left and followed the fence for a couple miles. It was easy walking, but there was one spot where I was “caught between a rock and a sharp place”, ha!

The rest of the day I spent walking down a wash or stream, which I really enjoyed. It started off sandy and wide.

Some places were narrow and rocky, with these little eroded out potholes that I had to navigate around.

I even found a spring, the first natural water I’ve seen on trail.

More rocky wash with eroded potholes.

After about an hour, the wash I was hiking down joined the much larger Courthouse wash. This is where I started finding quicksand. Neat!

From this point onwards the wash was wide and vegetated, so it was much easier to walk through the very shallow water than try to bushwhack through the bushes and weeds.

As I got lower down, the cliffs got much taller.

Apparently some very large bird lives down here!

It was a great afternoon of wading through Courthouse wash. Eventually the water mostly disappeared and I was hiking on dry land.

I started seeing prickly pear cactus!

I crossed under the bridge for the Park road, and entered Lower Courthouse wash. Down here the wash was less wide, and the stream was really deep. I stayed on dry land, but had to keep crossing and recrossing the stream as it meandered back and forth within the canyon.

At one point it became shallower as it dropped over a small waterfall, and into a pond.

A mile later, I was at my assigned campsite, which was perched up on a flat sandy bench. It’s always better to camp up high, away from water and the valley bottom…less condensation. Very nice spot!

These first two nights my camping locations are dictated by my permit from Arches national park. For most of the hayduke though, I will just be camping wherever I decide. Tomorrow I’ll pass through Moab again, before I enter some really remote terrain for a week!

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