Descending a step of the Grand Staircase

Short notes for now: A crisp morning walking down Bullrush Gorge. From sandy wash to steep canyon of white and gray sandstone in a few bends. We like to look at the patterns of the cracks in the mud as the wash floor dries.

Ponderosa pines and Douglas-fir leaning into the canyon. The pines on the rim glowing gold in the morning sun. Canyon wrens trilling. Wallflower, Oregon grape, phlox, clematis all in bloom. Gamble oak and maple with fresh spring green leaves. This canyon is a delightful treasure tucked into the White Cliffs. 

Out into Park Wash, the going is sandy. But the White Cliffs are gorgeous, 1,000 feet of steep Carmel formation and Navajo sandstone rising above. Cows, a line shack tucked out of the wind in an ampitheatre, a tank full of water. A beautiful setting. If there was more grass, I’d think these cows are lucky. But the browse looks sparse.

On the otherside of the wash is No Man’s Mesa. It is beckoning. There’s a scramble route to the top, the guidebook taunts one to see if they can pick the line. Per Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance the mesa is:

Solitary and remote, a 2,000-acre island ringed by 1,000-foot-high cliffs. The mesa has never been grazed by cattle nor disturbed by agriculture or mining; its occasional small wildfires have been allowed to burn, creating grassy parklands amid the pinyon-juniper forest. It is, in sum, a classic “relict plant area” — a rare example of a pristine plant ecosystem.

I’m all the more interested in seeing the ecosystem at the top.

More sandy walking. Slow going. Part of the Hayduke spa. We slog out of the White Cliffs and into the Vermilion Cliffs with terraces of deep red Moenave sandstone. Slowing descending the Grand Staircase

Once on to hardpacked BLM roads the walking is easy. The sagebrush is green. In the distance we can see the forests of the Kaibab Plateau. The horizon looks verdant. But it is warm and dry walking out of Kitchen Corral Canyon. 

At Hwy 89 by 4:30 we get a ride into town with a kind rancher from Page, Arizona whose family has been working the land for five generations. They still trail some of their cattle from winter to summer grounds. Just like Gus McCrae and Captain Call. He knows the places we’ll be walking when we go out Hack Canyon across the Arizona Strip (~220 miles later in our route). I hope Dustin liked my favorite song. His favorite place to roam these parts is the open grassland and shrubbsteppe of the Arizona Strip, a place that’s good for cows.

In Kanab for a quick turnaround, it turns out Daybreaker will also be in town tonight! Reunion forthcoming. New shoes from the awesome gear shop that carries High Country News and makes a fine cup of coffee. A stop at the natural food store next to Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners offices. Loving Kanab! 

I was about to cross the street when I saw Daybreaker in the back of a pickup truck. He finally made it to town (4+ hours to get a hitch)! Much hopping around, giddy chatting, and sillyness ensues. Then it’s time for a few chores before dinner with our friend. Loving Kanab even more.

Day 34: 22.2 miles; 528.7 miles total. Pt. 6771 along Bullrush Gorge to Hwy 89 at Buckskin Gulch with a hitch into Kanab.

GPS: not needed; people sighted: none on trail, lots in Kanab, best of all, Daybreaker!; roads: many a sandy mile, then many a good mile.

Bullrush Gorge is starting to get interesting as the hills steepen on both sides. Love the ponderosa pines!

A little darker deeper down in the canyon.

Gambel oak leafing out.

Rock clematis blooming underneath the gambel oak.

Lovely water from Adams Spring.

Walking along Park Wash, domes and spires in Navajo sandstone. These lovely formations are barely a blip on our maps. They look like an inviting playground. 

Breakfast time view of Calf Pasture Mesa. Cows ahead. 

Line shack built by John Lefevre. There are many Lefevre family members in the area. The walls are signed by some visitors, including Mr. Lefevre’s grandchildren. Living history with people connected to place.

Stove in the line shack.

More good cow water!

Sandy wash walking amid the White Cliffs. All that beautiful rock, all that sand. Around here you don’t get one without the other.

Jackrabbits and cottontails bound across the roads and washes as we walk most all day long, especially in the crepuscular hours. This one kindly sat still for a photo.

Gabriel really likes windmills. I’ve looked forward to seeing this one, ever since DNR took a photo of it when she and Bubbles camped here last spring.

Mukmuk begs to differ, we came from Bryce via this road. But then, there are some big wash outs that would make it tricky to get all the way up to the Podunk trailhead.

Thank you Dustin Cox for pulling over horses and trailer in tow and giving us a ride into Kanab. We enjoyed the thoughtful conversation and appreciate your kindness. May you always have cows around! In your honor, tonight will be a beef night.

Daybreaker made it to town!!! (It took him 4 hours to get a ride.) We are in the same place!

PCT 2011 reunion!

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