This past weekend, Caroline and I headed west to the desert for a loop some ultra runner friends suggested. A note of caution: just because a local endurance freak did something in 9 hours doesn't mean it'll be easy to do at a leisurely pace in two days!
This loop followed two very remote tributary canyons to the Colorado River near the Utah state line. Each canyon had a bit of a trail from the plateau above down to the bottom, but in between was 8-12 miles of bushwhacking, boulder hopping, low speed travel.
The scenery was spectacular. The weather was pleasant. And the only footprints we saw were from deer, mountain lions, coyotes, bobcat (?), and smaller critters.
We reached the big muddy river while the sun was still low and frost covered most of the grass along the riverbank. We inflated the packraft I had been carrying, crammed two bodies and two packs into the tiny thing, and pushed out into the strong current.
Easy miles. A few rapids and boils had me a bit nervous, as our little craft was a bit overloaded.
Unexpected shapes and colors of rocks at the valley floor - I now see why this immediate section of river is called Black Rock
Back on dry land, we headed up our exit canyon. It was even more impressive than the first canyon we had been in.
We hiked on granite for most of the climb up, meaning we were right on the Great Unconformity, a gap of 1.4 billion years in the geologic record. It isn't exposed in too many places between the Rockies and the bottom of the Grand Canyon, so I wasn't expecting be hiking along it for several hours.
Another sunset. Time to switch on the head lamps and hustle back to the trailhead.