It sounded a bit like an itinerary from middle earth......
From Spanish Bottom to the Dolls House, over Ernie's Flats past the Fins up Sweet Alice Canyon to Lou's Spring. Climb the Golden Stair - past 'Mother and Child' Rock - over a plateau to the Flint Road. Down into Happy Canyon, through the narrows to cross the Dirty Devil river, then up to Poison Spring Canyon to the highway.
We had a nice relaxed morning beside the Colorado sorting the gear out in the shade. Our pick up boat arrived around 12.30 from Moab and they made short work of pulling our kayaks onto the boat and taking our kayak rental gear, toilet(!) and garbage bag away with them. Soon we are alone, just us and our backpacks. It's got hot (high 20's C) and we were motivated to camp at a water supply 12 miles away so we set off quickly up the steep slopes above the Colorado.
|Our kayaks are collected|
|Heading above the Colorado to Dolls House|
We camped on a good flat spot on top of a sandy hillock, a few hundred meters away from the spring itself. Some spots of rain but the sky cleared as it got dark around 8.30 pm. A great day!
|Heading west away from Doll's House|
We woke at 6 am as it got light and fetched some more water from the spring before heading out with 5 liters each as we were not sure where our next water would be. The tent is frosty but the heat soon builds up as we climbed slick rock out of the canyon and are bathed in red light from the sunrise. After crossing some jeep tracks we headed uphill through another cliff band on the Golden Stairs trail. This traverses across the cliffs finding a line of weakness up onto a higher plateau area via a neck of rock to another jeep track trailhead.
Here we met Tom who is 70 and is heading out into Ernies Country (where we have just come from) for 2 days. We had a good chat and Martina in particular is delighted when he offers us bananas (the first fresh food item for 5 days!!!) and who had lots of useful info about the way ahead (himself being a desert hiker for many decades).
|From the top of the Golden Stairs looking east past 'Mother and Child' rock|
Big expansive views opened out to the 'islands in the sky' cliff bands around. After some more jeep tracks we reached the edge of the plateau at Happy Canyon campground and searched out our route down through cliffs into Happy Canyon itself.
We picked up what looked like an old disused mining track zig-zagging down into colourful blue, white, bright orange and lavender bands of rock - part of the Chinle group which is also a source of minerals and uranium.
|Descending down into Happy Canyon south fork|
We stopped just after a prominent feature above the canyon called 'The Hat' (a rock tower) and find some shade under an overhang to read and rest. Brian's feet were blistered from the hot hiking but otherwise we are holding out well and loving Happy Canyon.
|Shady juniper rest in Happy Canyon south fork|
|Happy Canyon south fork camp|
Alarm at 5am this morning (super early for us!) and we breakfasted in the dark. We made good pace down the south fork following the twisting dry, sandy bottom of the wash. Cheerily we see a number of pools of water in the slickrock along the way although we are carrying enough for today through to our intended campsite by the Dirty Devil river and we hope to have some pools of water in the canyon before then.
|Hiking down the alkaline wash in Happy Canyon|
The wind had thankfully died down when we woke up making things a bit more relaxed. We even managed a wash in the river before leaving at 7.20 am.
Lots of petrified wood at the side of the trail before we swing west away from the Dirty Devil to parallel Poison Spring Canyon and meet up with the actual Hayduke Trail. The wind is up again and we take a break behind a large boulder for shelter and snacks.
|Petrified wood above the Dirty Devil river|
Once the tent was up we headed out for a few hours east of the canyon by scrambling up slabs and broken rock onto the plateau for some grand distant views both back east to Canyonlands national park and west to the snow capped Henry mountains where we are heading next! We reached a canyon overlook and disturbed some swifts - a grand wander!
|Looking to the Henry mountains from above Poison Spring Canyon|
|Camp in Poison Spring Canyon under cottonwoods|
Today we headed for town for some food and a clean - yay!
The highway was about 10 miles away and we started with a sandy jeep road. It made for pleasant hiking with more green cottonwoods and smooth Wingate sandstone walls changing to the blonde Navajo sandstone further on, higher up.
|Walking out of Poison Spring Canyon|
|Hanksville post office - we collect our supplies!|