CJR Escalante Adventure 2005 – Day 4

Synopsis: Explore upper Middle Moody Canyon and look over the pass into Hall's Creek. Drive to Camp II. Dayhiking; May 20. View Day 4 route map.

This day opened clear and beautiful in Camp I, which was situated next to the dirt road we’d come in on and across the canyon from the Moody Creek wash. We were camped just above where the “road” begins running directly through the wash; the previous night, we were able to coax Myrtle a few hundred yards down this section but were finally thwarted by enormous rocks and gathering darkness.


Camp I in upper Moody Creek.

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The first action item was to drive to the trailhead. This consisted of traveling another five or six miles of dirt; four-wheel drive was not necessary, except for some ridiculousness at the end, but high clearance definitely was. We left Myrtle behind and went in Charles’s truck, which performed admirably.


Driving along the wash in Moody Creek to the Day 4 trailhead.

Photo by John Garbe.
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Truck parked at the trailhead in upper Middle Moody Creek.

Photo by Charles Yeamans.
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We hiked over mud hills and along an old mining road, skirting the head of Middle Moody Creek. After a while, we climbed up some rugged, rocky slopes to gain the pass between Middle Moody Creek and the Red Slide, an enormous ancient landslide spilling down into Hall’s Creek.


John climbing up to the pass, which is to the right of the butte.

Photo by Charles Yeamans.
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Looking northeast from the pass. The Henry Mountains are in the background, and the facing cliffs in the middleground on the right-hand side (brown and terraced) are the far wall of Hall’s Creek. (L-R: John, me.)

Photo by Charles Yeamans.
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Looking southwest from the pass, down Middle Moody Creek. I’m planning a long loop that would go over the pass, below the line of cliffs starting at the left side of the photo, and through the gap with the white pyramid, which leads into East Moody Creek. (Part of the purpose of this dayhike was to scout this section of the route and make sure it was passable.) The skyline is the Straight Cliffs.

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We climbed down from the pass and followed the mining road along rim of the canyon for a little ways before climbing down in. Along the way we found a large pile of petrified wood in an unusual yellow color, and an interesting lizard skittered along the cliffs and eyed us warily. The floor of the canyon was a network of small subcanyons carved in bright red rock. We made our way up, down, and across this landscape for a few minutes and then stopped for lunch under a juniper tree. Charles expounded on his former roommate’s escapades regarding chicken keeping.

After lunch, we kept going. We were headed across the canyon floor in the general direction of the truck, looking for a way through the 30-foot band of cliffs marking the canyon rim that we thought we had seen earlier from the top (the west side of the canyon was much steeper than the east side near the pass). This proved to be much more difficult than we thought at the pass. After lots of debate, staring at the cliffs, and examining them through John’s spyglass, we chose a small draw that looked like it would break the cliffs at the top.

Once in the draw, it became clear that there was no break. However, there was a honeycombed section of cliffs on the left side which was looking more and more passable, and when we encountered a large cairn matching one we’d seen on top, we knew there had to be a way through somewhere in the vicinity. Indeed, we were able to make our up through the honeycombed section with little difficulty. This brought us to within a few minutes’ walk of the truck.


Me topping the honeycombed slope. The red area in the background is part of the complex canyon floor of Middle Moody Creek that we had just crossed.

Photo by John Garbe.
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John in a field of bright red grass as we headed for the truck, which is behind the pyramid on the skyline.

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After reaching the truck, we drove the three hours or so back to Boulder and then went on to Escalante to buy supplies. We had hoped to camp at Calf Creek Campground, off Highway 12 near the Escalante River, but it was full. Instead, Camp II was a few minutes on good dirt down Old Sheffield Road on the south rim of the Escalante River Canyon. Charles cooked us dinner: freedom patties, patriot salad, and liberty paste, i.e. falafel, tabouli, and hummus.


Charles washing dishes in the back of Myrtle at Camp II.

Photo by John Garbe.
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Please continue reading on Day 5.

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