Day 16: Swap Canyon and Muley Twist Canyon

Saturday May 6, 23.9mi/38.5km

Muley Canyon (225.1/5920ft) to Muley Twist Canyon (248.7/4840ft) (UT) +0.3mi water

After a great night of sleep amongst the trees, we hiked out at 7am. Pretty soon we left the canyon and went cross country for a couple hours. Some of the rock formations around here are crazy looking, like this pointy mountain.

And then we saw this pointy finger!

This little cross-country section was fun, and we even found some cattle trails to follow for a little bit.

We dropped into a very small canyon for a few minutes before climbing right back out again.

Of course there was some walking in a wash too.

There was a spring at the junction of two little canyons, and I wandered around amongst the cattails to find the best place to access the water. When I finally got to it I discovered it looked a little funny, like an orange color.

It smelled and tasted fine, in the orange color was actually the sediment on the bottom. So I was very careful not to disturb the bottom. This would likely be our last water source for the rest of the day, since the next reliable one is 18 miles away. After this we took a little alternate/shortcut (saves 1mile), that a previous hiker Nic Barth had established. It went by these cool coal seams.

An added bonus was more cool rock formations like this drippy, melted-looking rock.

Desert wildflower!

It was after 9am so we decided to take a nice long snack break before descending into Swap Canyon.

It was a perfect temperature for hiking today about 60F/16C, with just the right amount of clouds. The descent into Swap Canyon was actually really easy, with no technical or steep sections at all. Within 10 minutes we were at the bottom.

It was a really enjoyable Canyon to walk, with hardly any annoying soft sand, and lots of good scenery.

I enjoyed the shade from the little cliffs nearby.

I haven’t yet seen a plant with both pink and white flowers!

We walked down Swap Canyon for a couple hours, and then when it ended at a larger valley we stopped for lunch. Looking ahead to the Burr trail switchbacks, which also means we entered Capitol Reef National Park.

Our lunch spot was pretty windy, so we did not stick around very long after finishing our meal. We had a couple miles of dirt roadwalking to do.

Ah, The official “welcome to Capitol Reef” sign along the road. There is a large geologic feature here called the waterpocket fold, it’s a 100-mile long wrinkle in the Earth’s crust. Very cool.

We saw like five cars pass by us on the short roadwalk, which was a little surprising given we are really far out from any town. At the top of the climb was the Muley Twist Canyon trailhead. There was a trail register so we even signed in!

This is a very popular dayhike, so most of the names in there we didn’t recognize, but there were a few Hayduke hikers as well.

The canyon started off shallow with this really cool grippy red sandstone.

Then it got a little deeper and I was walking on some gravel surrounded by taller sandstone walls.

When the canyon would go around a bend, the outside of the band was all cut-under and eroded, making these neat overhangs where water would drip down and create stripes.

After a few miles the canyon walls got *really* tall.

And then the cut-under corners became much more pronounced, becoming kind of like caves.

At one spot we had to hike through a pile of jumbled boulders, which created these little cave passageways. Shadow tried the first one which didn’t work.

The second little cave worked though!

Towards the end of the day the Canyon started to get a little wider, and we could see more of the surrounding landscape. Like these cool flatiron mountains, just like in Boulder CO!

After walking Muley Twist Canyon for almost 10 miles, we decided to stop for the night as it was almost 6pm.

With all the cross-country hiking, and also the Swap Canyon we did this morning, it was almost a 24 mile day….my biggest one yet on the Hayduke! We made dinner and then started to head to bed around 8pm, and it got really windy. I was holding up my tent so it wouldn’t be flattened by the wind. The wind was also so strong it was blowing sand through the mesh of the tent, and I was basically eating sand while laying there. Gross. I moved my tent to a slightly better spot, which didn’t really help. So I moved it to an even better spot, a 5 minute walk away tucked into some trees and bushes. After all of the tent-moving and sand-cleaning, it was 10:30 before I finally got to bed, sheesh.

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