Thursday, April 20th, 2023, 1130-1840
Escalante\Hole in the Rock Road Devils Garden S7 to Right Hand Collet Canyon
15.5 miles, elevation 6000′
I didn’t really want to leave town this day. Normally I’m very eager, especially after a zero. I guess I was just liking the good food, people, and conveniences too much. Plus, I still felt like I hadn’t gotten much done. I ate breakfast in the room and then got a second breakfast at the natural food store. I saw Page at the Post Office as I was walking by. You know it’s a small town when you start getting waves from the locals after only being there 2 days.
We said our goodbyes to Mac, Leah and Sky and then met another Hayduke hiker, Emily. She’d gotten off trail at the Grand Canyon due to the extreme conditions (snow and runoff) while her partner Grant continued on. They’d started the trail in early March and braved the toughest conditions. While waiting for Grant to finish, she’d rented a van and was traveling back to some of the places with her dad. They’d graciously offered to support other hikers and drive us back to our departure point. Perfect!
We decided not to go all the way back to Hurricane wash, some 33 miles one way on the terribly washboarded road. This would have brought us back to the red line and connected our footsteps but I just hadn’t read great things about the next section (7). The route did a huge “W” through a series of 4 or 5 canyons, some of which were described as very brushy and bouldery. We suspected there would still be snow in the upper reaches of Monday Canyon…that coupled with scrambling steeply down boulders didn’t sound like fun. The springs were also described as some of the worst alkaline sources of the trail.
So we opted for a significantly shorter route starting from Devil’s Garden, which conveniently was where Emily was going anyway. It’s a group of rock formations that are pretty cool. We were entertained by them for about 15 minutes but we get to see such cool stuff on a daily basis along our route. We began a cross country course of about 3 miles from there, which connected to a dirt road and finally the wash of Right Hand Collet Canyon (RHCC). Our route had no notes or info about water sources… Stellar didn’t even recall where he found the track. It seemed rather untested…we certainly never saw another footprint besides cows and coyotes.
We chased a small group of cows up the canyon, which at least showed us the easiest and straightest paths to follow. Eventually they peeled away and we took a higher route to avoid a small slot section that was too narrow for us and the cows. The creek was flowing the whole way and the water was decent. But it resulted in a lot of quick mud… like quick sand but messier. I just never could tell what was safe to step on, even after studying it for miles. I guessed wrong a couple of times…so much for clean shoes.
The canyon was ok, nothing spectacular like the ones before but at least we had it to ourselves. There were many junipers and even some ponderosas as we climbed higher. We made a simple camp under some junipers, kicking the cow pies away. It was a pretty easy day, just nice to be outside.