Hayduke Day 20

March 30

I wonder at all the marvels that must have burrowed their way into the Waterpocket Fold over all the millennia. Pocked, smoothed, dented, gorged–the place makes up new words to describe all the assaults waged against it by time. Here’s a canyon below me, just there. Here’s a giant tinaja, somehow nestled deep within the rock so that its buried. A steep steady climb eventually reveals a “top” and I believe I can see tiny boats floating around in Lake Powell. Odd. Navajo Mountain (I think…) rises to the south, but I wont tread its slopes. And then the Henries, always the Henries.

Steven’s Canyon is the great aim for the day, and it’s a straightforward climb down–the way is marked well with cairns. The canyon is simply remarkable, but it frequently forms impassable waterfalls and pour-offs so I have to reroute up on the massive sloping slick rock and hope my ankles can endure the grade.

Surely, this is some of the most exposed hiking I’ve ever done. One must swallow any lingering fear of heights to continue on; the reward though, is truly great.

By canyons end, the way becomes thick with brush and brambles and I tumble around like a toddler with bowling balls for feet. Somehow I make it out of the place intact, although I’ve suffered a terribly skinned thigh and thoroughly twisted ankle. From Steven’s Canyon, I have to wade for a mile and a half through the Escalante River in order to make camp in Coyote Gulch, the next playground on this route, and tomorrow’s adventure.

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