Day 15: Pennellen Pass down to Tarantula Mesa

Friday May 5, 23.0mi/37.0km

Crescent Creek (201.4/8250ft) to Muley Canyon (225.1/5920ft) (UT) +0.8mi water

It was a cold morning at our campsite, only 34F/1C. We were camped pretty high up, so it’s just an elevation effect. We left camp just after 7am, hiking the Pennellen Pass alternate, since there’s too much snow on the main route which goes over Mt Ellen’s summit.

Nice morning light over the entire valley.

Unsurprisingly, there were still patches of snow along our route, which was at 9000ft elevation.

I like the cool geometric patterns in the ice crystals.

Looking south, we had terrific views of Mt Pennell.

It was a nice dirt roadwalk all morning, and Shadow found this weird skull in the middle of the road.

What a beautiful mountain!

After about 3 hours of hiking, we took a break at Pennellen Pass. The signs were entertaining.

Of course I had to get a photo of Shadow getting a photo, ha!

We had a nice break in the sun, but it was still chilly even though it was much warmer now at 10am. The dirt roadwalking continued….

Looking west towards Capitol Reef NP, and the Waterpocket Fold:

We began to descend more steeply from the pass, and it got noticeably warmer.

Neither of us needed water, but we stopped at Airplane Spring anyway to check it out.

There was a memorial plaque to the crashed plane, for which the spring was named.

Most of the day was roadwalking, which was quite relaxing. No complicated navigation necessary!

We stopped to get to water, and I had one of the most interesting water experiences of all my hikes. These huge plastic tarps collect snow and water, and funnel it into giant plastic tanks.

So Shadow and I climbed up onto one of the tanks, and tried to figure out how to get water out of them. It was a fun puzzle, eventually we removed the lids by unscrewing the 8 plastic bolts.

… And lowering a water container on a string to fill it up, since the water was 8 feet down at the bottom of the tank. It was like fishing for water!

After successfully getting water, we had another hour of road walking. And then some excitement to end the day. A super steep descent into Muley Canyon! It looked so far down.

Shadow trying to figure out the spot to descend.

There is only one spot to descend into the canyon and pretty soon we found it, it was marked by a few cairns. We got below the top band of cliffs, had a little traverse, and then descended the impossibly steep scree slope. Looking back up at the scree slope we had just come down:

I’m glad we got that done today, I would not have wanted to do that steep descent in the early morning. We walked for a few minutes in the Muley Creek wash, and then started looking for places to set up camp.

We settled on a spot amongst some trees to help block the wind. It seems like it’s always windy here. But at least it’s much warmer at this lower elevation! We made our dinners and had a little social evening before heading off to bed at 8pm. Fun day!

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