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Dark Canyon

Friday, October 28th, 2011: Southeast Utah, Trips.

Day 4: Cedar Mesa to Hanksville

Highlights: Very long rough road over bedrock, huge canyon, scary trail

Dark Canyon is a vast complex of very remote country, similar in scale and appearance to the Grand Canyon. After the previous day’s adventure, I wanted to try getting even farther off the road. After looking at the map, I decided to try to hike into Dark Canyon and spend the night there.

Much of the road in is laid directly on sandstone bedrock. VERY slow and hard on the little truck. A long drive across the plateau, winding around buttes and small mesas, until you finally get to the edge, and the canyon opens below you, monumental.

In the photos, I included the warning sign about the trail into the canyon. I was bummed that fires are not allowed, because I didn’t have a stove. I figured I would have to subsist on nuts down there.

I packed my old Swiss army surplus rucksack for an overnight trip and optimistically headed down the trail, with a supposedly 2 mile walk to the edge for the descent. Actually it’s a bit farther than that. I was already running late due to the hard drive in. Finally I reached this point, a 50-foot cliff requiring a downclimb, followed by another mile or so across a lower ledge. My feet were hurting in my lightweight hiking boots, my shoulders were sore from the hard leather pack straps, and there was apparently a fairly dangerous 1,200′ downclimb ahead of me, with nothing but a cold dinner at the bottom. Again, I was alone and nobody knew where I was. And the book at the trailhead showed that BLM rangers patrol here no oftener than once a month. It really hurt to give up on this one, but I swore I would at least come better prepared with a good pack and sturdier boots in the future.

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