Day 10: Finding Religion in Dark Canyon

Sunday April 30, 18.0mi/29.0km

Dark Canyon (132.1/4700ft) to Landing Strip on Browns Rim (148.9/4920ft) (UT) +1.2mi routefinding

Today was a difficult day for making forward progress. The stream in dark Canyon seemed to be running a little high, and I wasn’t 100% sure that getting through all 7 miles of the canyon was possible. If I couldn’t safely cross this stream, I would have to turn around and go back the way I came yesterday. To optimize my chances of success, I decided to minimize the number of stream crossings, and get an early start. I started hiking down the canyon at 6:45. For a while I was able to stay on the left bank of the stream, which was running loudly.

Early on I had 4 crossings in quick succession, all were at spots where the stream was wide, and therefore shallower.

Then I was able to walk for a while on the left bank, while watching the stream roar down this little chute.

Some of the hiking was actually nice, along these sandy benches.

At one point in the morning I stopped to refill my water. It looked like a translucent chocolate milk…gross. Even after letting it settle for 10 minutes it was still quite brown, though about half an inch of sand did accumulate on the bottom of the bottle.

The springtime wildflowers were a nice distraction.

Eventually the path on my side of the stream would dead-end into a cliff, as the stream meandered within the canyon, and I would have to backtrack to a spot where I could cross the stream. Sometimes I backtracked almost half a mile.

Crossing #5 was surprisingly straightforward, while crossing #6 took me awhile to find the optimal place to cross. After these two crossings, I was able to walk on nice rocky benches above the stream for a couple miles.

I came to Lost Canyon, which is a side Canyon that is almost to the end of this section, so I knew I was almost done with Dark Canyon. I dropped my pack and walked up Lost Canyon for 10 minutes to explore and perhaps find clean water.

No clear water to be found, but plenty of blooming cacti.

With only half a mile of Dark Canyon to go, I thought I was done with stream crossings. But they were two very tight bends in the canyon where the stream ran right up to the cliff. Bummer. These last two sets of crossings (#7 & 8, #9 & 10) weren’t easy but I was able to make it safely across. For crossing #10 I actually used my little rope as a hand line, and got pretty wet in the process. I dragged myself up onto the sandy shore and walked over to a shady spot to take a break and relax and have lunch. I was done with Dark Canyon! While I was walking to my lunch spot I actually came across another human, which was shocking. Jamie (and his dog Grizzy) are hiking down here on a 3 day weekend trip, going to camp in Lost Canyon.

I told him I was just there 30 minutes ago (and 4 stream crossings ago) and he told me I could’ve just hiked over this saddle between Lost Canyon and here, and avoided the last 4 stream crossings altogether. D’oh!

I sat under a tree by the stream and had lunch, and washed the sand out of all my stuff.

Once again I made my dinner (which requires boiled water) at lunchtime, since I have a water source here. Then I will eat my lunch at dinner.

I filled up on dirty water for the next 20 miles which will be dry. I then proceeded to hike 1200ft/350m up the Sundance trail, which goes straight up this scree field.

A hot and sweaty hour later, and I was on top of the climb and had a cool view back down into Dark Canyon.

For the next hour I walked a combination of the Sundance trail and some cross country walking. This little snake seemed just as surprised to see me, as I was to see it.

It was pretty easy walking on slickrock, marked by the occasional cairn.

I came to a dirt road and followed it for the rest of the day. This cool little rock formation was called “[a derogatory term] and Papoose Rock.”

To the west I could see the Henry mountains, where I will be next week, after my resupply at Hanksville.

There was technically one water source along the road walk, a neat little pothole. But unfortunately it was polluted by cows. Cows are the worst.

At 7pm I stopped for the day, and walked a ways off the road to setup my tent amongst the bushes.

I was so tired and so happy to lay down and fall asleep.

Happy Justin Timberlake day!

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