Day 6: Complex Terrain, Mud, Blood

Wednesday April 26, 17.2mi/27.7km

Rustler Canyon (73.0/4240ft) to Needles Outpost (84.0/4920ft) (UT) +2.3mi Loop Overlook + 3.9mi to Needles Outpost

I started out at 7am and it was cold in Rustler Canyon.

After a mile I came to a huge pour-off, which was clearly impassible.

I skirted the obstacle to the left, weaving my way through shelves of rock. A few minutes later, I was at Indian Creek, which was clearly in some minor flood stage. And very muddy.


I knew I had to cross the creek at least once, but I was hoping I would not have to cross it 3 or 5 times depending on how it weaved through the canyon.

I hiked along one side of the river as long as I could, before I got squeezed up against a rock wall, and then I would cross at a shallow part and hike on the other side. Ultimately I did have to cross 3 times, but it didn’t make much difference since my legs were muddy from the first crossing.

After I crossed Indian Creek for the final time I had to ascend out of the canyon. Routefinding was a little tricky, but I managed to find a route through the cliffs via a gap.

30 minutes later and I was way above Indian Creek.

For the next hour I meandered through plateaus and pinnacles.

As I was stepping up on to a rock, it broke off from the ground and landed on my shin.

My bruised and bloody leg.

The cut was pretty deep, so I made sure to rinse it out with plenty of clean water using my Sawyer squeeze filter, which kind of acted like a syringe with the nozzle.

All bandaged up and ready to go.

Just before lunch I decided to take a detour to the “Loop Overlook”, a spot which has a view of the 270-degree Bend in the Colorado River. Unsurprisingly, I had to hike up a wash to get there. But this one was all smooth rock, almost like a water slide.

The Loop!

I ate lunch at the overlook and enjoyed the view and the breeze on the increasingly warm day. Rather than backtracking to rejoin to the main route, I hiked via a different track, which saved me distance but definitely didn’t save any time, given the amount of scrambling over boulders I had to do. Once I was back on the main route, it wasn’t long before I was on a dirt road.

I’m in Canyonlands! Number 2 of 6 National Parks. I hiked the road for almost an hour to the Needles Ranger station.

There were some really strangely shaped rocks along the way.

I refilled my water and dumped my trash at the Ranger station, and I tried to adjust my camping permit to get a closer campsite for tomorrow night….no luck. It was almost 3:45pm so I quickly left the Ranger station and hiked the 30 minutes over to Needles Outpost.

The Nedles Outpost is a privately owned campground, and I had a box of food mailed here a few weeks ago.

I paid for a campsite and a shower, and since it was a hot day I bought an ice cold root beer as well. Never tasted so good!

I exploded my food box on a picnic table outside. This is what 7 days worth of food (24,000 kilocalories) looks like.

Unbelievably, they also had a hiker box. I never thought I would see a hiker box on the Hayduke!

They also had it adorable puppy named Coco, I thought she wanted my food but really she wanted more belly rubs.

Once I had my food all sorted, I walked to my campsite and passed the weirdest sign.

I setup my camp, took a shower, rinsed out my socks, updated my blog, and charged my battery. As I was finishing dinner I got this nice view.

Interesting day. Tomorrow, Needles /Canyonlands!

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