Over the Waterpocket Fold into Stevens Canyon

A starry morning, awake before dawn, but lying in my bag. I watch an owl hop about in the cottonwood above us, then silently drop to the ground. Sorry little mouse or lizard – though you are a gift to the owl.

Then our day began.

And what a gorgeous day! Hard to believe we started out along Halls Creek with sandy walking, thickets of tamarisk, and lots of cattle sign. By mid morning we transitioned to a magical world of Navajo slickrock. We hiked up and over the Waterpocket Fold via the Baker Trail. Scampering about benches of Navajo sandstone that changed color, held waterpockets, and gardens of cactus, grasses, wildflowers, and mini groves of pinyon and juniper. A wonderland.

From the top of the Fold we looked east to the Henry Mountains and our route across Tarantula Mesa to Capitol Reef NP. We also saw the Colorado River a la Lake Powell (or is that Lake Foul?) glimmering with boats. So many worlds all from one vantage point.

We dropped into the world of Stevens Canyon with its domes of Navajo sherbet, huge alcoves, giant benches of red Kayenta formation, and overhanging fall into narrows. We camped on a slickrock bench of Kayenta above a pour off. Listening to canyon tree frogs make goat calls and watch bats flit about.

Day 20: 13.5 miles; 305.9 miles total. Halls Creek below Millers Creek to Stevens Canyon bench.

GPS: used twice; people sighted: three canyon explorers, including one who gave us dried bananas, figs, and jerky made from his neighbor’s pet bison; roads: none!

Morning glow on the Waterpocket Fold.

Gabriel studies the maps while we have breakfast. I admire the rock.

First prickly pear flower seen on route.

Cool new flower! Spiderwort.

Rosy slickrock.

Bubbly white slickrock.

Mukmuk and one of the many cairns marking the Baker Trail.

Fun steeps. Gabriel wasn’t using his pole tip here. In future we’ll be bringing pole tip covers to protect the rock.

Looking east toward the Henry Mountains.

First glimpse of Stevens Canyon.

A charming turtle dome of Navajo Sandstone.

A swirly orange and cream muffin.

Gentle line down into Stevens Canyon.

Kayenta benches above narrows.

Big, beautiful slickrock benches.

Navajo bells catching light.

Some steep trail that requires very focused walking.

View from camp.

Home for the night.