Saturday, February 23, 2008

Devil's Canyon

This is a brief report of our Spring 2002 trip to Devil's Canyon.
Our trip started Monday May 27, 2002. Cory, Marie, Lura, Jefferson, and I came from Logan and Dad came from St. George. We met at the trailhead of Devil's Canyon in the middle of the San Rafael Swell, near Green River, Utah.

We made camp there for the night. We did play some Chinese checkers before bed.

In the morning we started off down the trail, which was a jeep road for two miles, till we entered the canyon bottom. Once in the canyon bottom we were hiking down a sandy wash, conditions that lasted most of the trip (One of our running jokes became "So when does the sand end?" , ha ha.)

Soon we came to a fall. (In desert canyons anything that would be a water fall when there is water running in the canyon is just called a fall, get it? no water.) The fall presented a little bit of an obstacle, but alowed us to rest while we lowered packs over the fall. After the fall we entered the first real narrows. These were fun.

In just a few yards we encountered a side canyon that we wanted to explore. (This we called Canyon 0.) There was a little bit of a trick though. A slickrock chute about 15 feet high had to be climbed. Marie and I went up first, then I belayed everybody else, with a length of webbing that I had brought just for that purpose.

After exploring this interesting, narrow canyon we had lunch. Then we continued down canyon, encountering other small obstacles along the way. At one point as we were stopping to rest Jefferson ran into the branch of a tree, which poked a hole in his head. This was bandaged by our first aid experts (Marie and Lura). Jefferson said he felt o.k. and the bleeding had largely stopped, so we decided to continue with our little hike.

Soon after this incidence we encountered another side canyon (Canyon 1). Which Cory, Dad and I explored briefly. During the hot part of the day (about 4pm-6pm) we decided to rest and hide from the heat. These afternoon rests became essential to avoid exhaustion and sickness.

Then more hiking. Soon we came to another set of narrows which lasted for quite a ways and were rather nice.

We encountered some more obstacles, which each of us found our unique and creative way around.

By this time it was evening, and we were tired. However we couldn't stop. We were still in the narrows, and you can't camp in the narrows. Somewhere around 8pm or so we finally found a marginally suitable campsite. In fact it turned out to be quite nice. The draw back was we had to split into two groups (girls and boys)

As exhausted as I was, I couldn't sleep very well. I was worried about one major point. We had started out with 2 gallons of water apeice, which we calculated would last 2 days, (a calculation that fell a little short, 2 gallons was only good enough for about a day and a half). So we were about a day's journey from our car with probably only a half a day's supply of water. We were counting on a spring about 2 miles down canyon. The spring is reportedly permanent, but we are in the middle of a draught and so I was worried that the spring would be dry. I got so worried that I woke up at about 6am and hiked ahead, without my pack, to make sure there was water. Well, I found the water and so hiked back to let the others know the good news. The first thing that Dad asked me was "Did you taste it?" I hadn't, and we soon found out that the taste, and mineral content, of the water was going to be our major concern the rest of the trip.

We did a little morning relaxation exercises and started off. We hiked through some more nice scenery and shallow narrows before reaching the spring. Which consisted of a weeping wall (sans vegitation) and a trickle of a stream. We filled up every water container that we had. And refreshed ourselves with a desert shower. The water did have a bitter taste, but we were grateful to have it. We ate lunch under the spring, which acted as a nice swamp cooler, besides providing shade.

At this point the canyon changed character. We had been hiking through Navajo Sandstone, but here, lower in the canyon, we actually got into younger rocks, which overlie the sandstone we had been in. These consisted mostly of shale and mudstone. Half an hour after the spring we encountered the side canyon which would provide our exit from Devil's Canyon.

This exit canyon was moderately narrow and very twisty and turny.

We took our usual afternoon rest in the upper portion of this canyon. We were now climbing onto a juniper and pinyon plain. Soon Lura started suffering from the water. The bitter minerals in it were upsetting to the stomach, something we all suffered from to varying degrees. We marched on. After leaving the exit canyon and finding ourself on the high desert plain, it became evening and with Lura's upset stomach we decided to make camp. We camped on top of a little knoll.

We had great veiws, a cool breeze, no bugs, and we all started to feel much better.

In the morning we struck out on a compass course across the plain. We very soon encountered an old jeep road, which we followed to a horse trail. After a lot of hiking, and a lot of murmuring by people who doubted my route finding abilities, we finally found our way back to the jeep trail that we had started down almost 3 days earlier. We were so anxious to get back to civilization, good water, good food, and toilet facilities (most of us had the runs from the icky water) that we skipped our afternoon rest. The heat of the day finally got to me about a mile from the trailhead. I had to drop my pack and walk the rest of the way out without it. Then I was rushed into Green River to get some Sprite (since I knew that that was the only thing that could cure me.) Contrary to the advice of a truck driver at the gas station, the Sprite worked. We went to dinner and stayed that night in a hotel in town.

The next day we went to Goblin Valley. Then it was home again.

It was a strenous, exhausting trip, full of mishaps and wonderfull scenery. The water was bitter and made us sick, the heat was oppresive, but we had a good time. I think the best thing about it was being with family. This was the first backpacking trip with all of us siblings and Dad. Memories like that are priceless.

1 comment:

Arlynda said...

You forgot to mention that you forgot to tell your wife that you were going to go to goblin valley. I was home with a very sick baby and wanted you home very much to help me out. Anyway, if I were to write about this trip, I would mention that!


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