Canyon challenge course

A day entirely comprised of canyon travel, feeling like some of the most out there terrain of the Hayduke.

Down Monday Canyon to join Rogers Canyon to join Croton Canyon then turn up Navajo Canyon. Every canyon had its own nature and even the character of each changed by the mile.

We’d heard from others that the route through this section can seem tideous at times. It’s certainly was not the stroll we had yesterday.

But I decided to look at the canyons as a fun obstacle course and appreciate some of their virtues. It didn’t make the going easier, but I was happier! (Also, if one can set up caches for the Hayduke as we did, this is definitely a section and stretch to do so. A lighter pack is appreciated amid the hopping and sliding!)

Monday Canyon has boulders and fun slabs to scramble. When the pouroffs looked tall (~20 ft), we skirted east to the benches above the canyon. The canyon’s honeycomb forms, alcoves and shelves all beckon exploration. And if you look behind you at the right time, you’d see where others lived 800 or a 1,000 years ago.

Rogers Canyon is slick with alkaline mud. Gooey, thick, and slippy when you hop onto slickrock. It also has plenty of water; albeit alkaline and cow poo infused – the tadpoles don’t seem to mind. The tamarisk is brushy and will poke and jab you. The canyon is also rich in flowers! Wallflower, phlox, Zion vetchling, Navajo tea, apricot globemallow, purplemat, desert larkspur, draw sand verbana, wavy leaf phacelia, and golden mariposa.

Croton Canyon is open and in the short distance traveled, one wonders if the waters of the Colorado River are really out beyond the vast stretch of arid, sunbaked desert. One travels Croton for a short distance.

The mouth of Navajo Canyon starts with slippy mud, but mostly gentle travel amid canyon meanders. The banks fragrant with cheery yellow Eastwood’s camissonia contrasting with the gray loose rock. Middle Navajo canyon has boulder scrambles amid loose crumbly rock. And the upper section offers water with more life growing, less alkaline salts nearby, and better taste to the palette. It also has fun sandstone narrows and slickrock to scramble.

A good way to cultivate an appreciation for all sorts of different canyons. By 7:20 we reached the confluence of Navajo Canyon and Surprise Valley. Found a sagebrush patch on the edge of the sandy wash. We cowboy camp. Eating dinner on a nice slickrock slab and watch the sky turn color to my favorite shade of blue: lingering light of almost summer.

Day 25: 18.1 miles; 355.4 miles total. A little ways down Monday Canyon to Navajo Canyon branch that goes up to Surprise Valley.

GPS: not needed; people sighted: fellow Hayduker Runaway; roads: none!

Looking up Monday Canyon from the bottom of the wash. Lots of interesting forms within the sandstone.

Breakfast time view looking down Monday Canyon toward Rogers Canyon and eventually to the Colorado River.

Boulders collect at the bottom of the canyon.

Walking up the mouth of Navajo Canyon.

Eastwood’s camissonia – fragrant yellow flower that grows abundantly in wet years on the barren erosive soil of Navajo Canyon.

Grow! Amid the alkaline salts and erosive soils.

Deep cracks in the mud on the floor of the wash.

Entering the narrows of upper Navajo Canyon.

Some fun slab scrambling to go through a cannonhole.

Needs some editing, but Gabriel is peaking through the hole. This is the cover of his “blackgrass” album. He comes up with all sorts of band names and music genres while we hike.

Formation within Navajo Canyon. I thought it would make a good back of the CD for Gabriel’s blackgrass band’s first album: Lonesome Mittens of Destruction.