Spring Utah 09---
More exploration and completion. I call this my trip of ghosts--- just because of the time I had to think and reflect on people past that had influence on me. I settled some issues I had, and opened new avenues I hope.
I returned to the San Rafael Swell to try to complete a backpack trip I attempted in 04 or 06. I have a webshots album up of this trip. It was a rainy cool October, and the roads muddy and the streams rising. I slogged in in mud and fog and was treated the next day to sun and clouds. The creek was rising so I balked at the trip thru the narrows, and it was cool to cold so I bagged it.
Fast forward a few years. Back to camp near Hidden Splendor Mine, the gorgeous overlook to the multicolored cliffs and hoodoos, and the sinuous gorge of Muddy Creek. I drove to the the trail head, then packed up for a 30 mile loop that would take me on an old 50's uranium mining road to a beautiful canyon, then on up along the cliffs about 700 feet above Muddy Creek. Then I would drop in and come down the creek narrows, including a 4 mile section called the Chute of Muddy Creek, a trek rumored to be similar to the narrows of Vigin River of Zion, but without all the people.
I crossed the small Muddy creek, actually pretty clear with a little pale silt. A couple more turns down the red walled canyon then took the first side canyon to the left and followed it's twisting mud lined walls to the old mining track ascending near it's head. The gentle grade delivers you to a broad ledge that traverses beneath soaring scenic cliffs and by an old mining camp which is a good place to take a break for a snack and explore a bit. On following the old road, eroded and grown in in places, but an easy and mostly level walk. Soon you come to a significant break, it's the huge Chimney Canyon coming in from the left. The road disappears but it is easy to follow a cattle path, use path to the canyon floor, a wide wash.
Up the wash to where Chimney canyon starts to narrow. An old homestead under some cottonwoods still remains, the most intact building the chicken coop. Chimney canyon branches here, and there are springs nearby. The old homestead makes a good base camp. You can then dayhike the branches. I arrived here and set up my pack, then left it to dayhike the forks. It was getting pretty hot so I deployed my umbrella as a shade source. The rocky branches narrow with some cottonwoods and greenery appearing magically in the stony landscape. Erosion makes for wild and fanciful walls. Each turn brings fascination and beauty. You have a little rock scrambling initially in both branches to get past the dry waterfalls at the springs, but it is easy to do. It appears hikers are not camping in the forks and are quite nice, no firerings or much trace or footprints.
I camped here under the tall ledge. Brought the bivy and just slept out.
Up early and hiked out, located the continuation of the old mining track referred to as the "Pasture Track" and kept contouring well above Muddy Creek, invisible in it's narrows and a distance away as the track contoured close to the huge sandstone cliffs. The track deteriorated as it was cut into narrow cliffs as finally Muddy Creek came into sight several hundred feet below. The track goes to cross the creek; but as soon as the verticality let up I left the track and route found down to the river.
It was nice at the water, some cottonwoods, and greenery. I walked along and crossed but soon the walls started to narrow, still low but then I encountered my first pool that was a little deep. I repacked and waterproofed my pack and cameras in boxes.
The most I found was mid thigh deep, but trekking poles helped locate the less deep areas and there were plenty of potential swimmers. The first narrows were short then it opened up again. Finally the walls came again, and rose and tightened. It was the start of the "Chute". Some really good shoe sucking mud was found but I managed to keep my shoes on.
It was quite beautiful as the creek cuts through different strata including the Coconino. Near the end a tight dark area has several logs jammed about 25 feet overhead. Here also the sandstone had some wonderful swirls of colors in the walls. This section water was mostly wall to wall and you have an easy slog.
I camped just outside of the Chute, in an alcove, a wind storm coming though that I dodged in my shelter.
The next day I had about 7 miles or so out, along the mellow creek, passing by a huge cottonwood overhanging the creek with a sand bank that would make a great camp.
As I drove out saw some pronghorn antelope dodging the hunters, then stopped at a pictograph panel that had some nearby campers but I took some telephoto pics.
Now to Hanksville to prepare for the first annual Dirty Devil River Float----more details to follow----