Day 33, Hackberry canyon trailhead, 23.5 miles (including about 3 out and back in Round Valley narrows).
It’s a frosty morning with a pretty view. I continue a bit down the road until I turn off to my alternate. I follow a smaller road with lots of footsteps but at some point it diverts from my route so I leave it and go down the wash. It’s entirely possible that this road joins the wash at a later point but I wasn’t sure. I weave through the sage brush until I find a decent looking drainage to follow. The drainage gets wider and soon there are lots of cow prints and perhaps horses too. The human footprints appear again as well so I guess that road did connect.
The wash turns into a beautiful canyon. It’s the upper part of Hackberry canyon. It even has a cool narrower section. I love it! A bit later I join up with the original route and I turn left to check out the Round Valley draw narrows. As I’m stashing my pack I am surprised to see Zach walking by. Apparently my alternate was different from the guidebook alternate which is what he took. It sounds like his had a bit of a trickier entry down and I think mine was more scenic. We chat for a bit and then I’m off to explore the narrows!
I’ve been waiting to see these for a while now and I’m not disappointed. Pictures don’t do it justice, it’s so cool! I go as far as I can without having to scramble. My shoes are still caked with mud and have no traction and the sandstone is soft from the recent rain so I’m not even trying to get past the boulder choke I encounter. I would have liked to see the guidebook entry way but that’s past the boulder so it ain’t happening. A map check shows me that I’ve seen most of it and I’m so happy I checked it out. It’s so awesome!
After having hiked for an hour and a half within a pack on I’m now unpleasantly surprised with the weight on my back. I’m carrying too much water from my cache but it feels like a shame to dump good water so I continue to carry it.
Hackberry canyon is incredibly scenic as well. The going is a bit slow since the bottom of the canyon is sandy and torn up by cows. I guess it may have been worse before the rain though, at least some of it is a bit firm every once in a while.
In the end a stream appears and now I’m trying to figure out which side of the stream to hike on and criss cross multiple times. The rock walls change from yellow/white to deep red, the reddest rock I’ve ever seen. The red rock contrasts beautifully with the green leaves on the cotton wood trees which are thriving near the creek.
I’m trying to get out of this canyon before the end of the day since it’s looking pretty narrow at the end and there is some rain in the forecast so the speedier walking is very welcome.
When the canyon narrows the walk becomes a wade. It’s very shallow and beautiful but a bit chilly in the end of the day. Luckily the good weather holds with exception of a minute long hail storm which I sit out under an overhang. I keep on trucking and make it out just before dark. The trailhead parking lot has a decently hidden spot for my tent and it doesn’t sound like there is much traffic on this road anyways. So far only one truck has gone by.