Day 23, 15 miles, lower Muley twist
We survived the rain and thunder and lightning during the night and are super comfy in our tents. We have to get up at some point however. Nature’s calling and I guess we should hike some more miles. When I’m packed up I check out the water source myself and find it running at a spot a short ways down a cow path. The wash is definitely orange but the water looks clear there. I manage to scoop some up with my cup avoiding most of the sediment. Back at my tent I filter while Zach finishes packing up.
We’ve decided to give the Tarantula 2 shortcut a try. It’s an alternate by Nic Barth and has a few up and downs versus the longer more contouring (while still going up and down) original route. It’s pretty easy and fun.
We rejoin the original route and have to find our way into Swap canyon. We have to contour the rim for a bit before spotting the easy way down. The rim is pretty convoluted with lots of little formations and small washes but with the help of GPS and some cairns it’s easy to find. The cairns guide us down and we’re soon at the bottom.
Swap canyon is another beautiful canyon. It’s much more open and has some good cow paths to follow. This makes the walking relatively easy. I love it!
The sky is dark and as the canyon opens up it’s getting pretty breezy. We find a small side canyon and some sage brush to protect us from the wind during our lunch break. I have way too much food and we’re only three and a half miles from our next cache so I have a gluttonous meal. Zack helps me finish my bacon. It’s so good and salty but I can only eat so much of it.
At the bottom of the Burr switchbacks I change into my sandals to give my feet some more cushion and I take of my long johns thinking I’ll warm up during the climb up. It’s looking to clear a bit so I even put my solar collector on the back of my pack. Not far into the climb the clouds blow in and we change into rain gear and suddenly have hail!
The mountains in the distance are getting dumped on. We sure lucked out with our day on Mt Ellen’s flanks. It seems like it’s rush hour while we climb the switchbacks. Half a dozen cars pass us as we’re climbing while there were none before and we don’t see any after while we’re at our cache.
Our caches are near each other and we huddle under a nearby overhang sorting out our buckets. We do some food exchanges. Mostly me getting candy bars from Zach. I try to give him some of my Stinger bars but he doesn’t want any. I take inventory of all the bars I have and leave a bunch in my bucket because I have too many left over.
I recache my bucket and leave Prana and Haiku a note. All loaded up with food and water we set off to the Lower Muley canyon.
This one has lots of slick rock, sheer walls, and cool eroded sand stone formations. There is so much to see!
We encounter a college group from Montana out for a trip. They’ve just been through the Halls narrows which we’re hoping to hike in a few days. Zack has decided to join me on this alternate and they say they really enjoyed it. Yay!
Not long after the sky turns dark again. Uh oh! I want to put rain gear on and Zack suggests walking up the little mound with some trees maybe we can just set up camp. It’s a bit early but the sky looks frightening. As we’re walking up it starts raining and hailing and we crouch underneath some trees. I put my rain gear on, pull out my umbrella and sit tight. Zack doesn’t have an umbrella but he might have the more protective tree. Haha. We debate camping there but there’s not much flat ground. The storm passes and it’s still light out so we continue on for a bit. We’re scouting for alcoves, caves or flat treed spots and finally end up underneath an overhanging tall wall with dry ground below and some trees in front. It’s a pretty cool spot. We stake out our tents, have dinner and hope not to freeze our butts off tonight.