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courtesy JInnes
courtesy BConnell
Sorta Bushy
Charting a new path
Damn Dam!
Within a few minutes, we encounter some pools in the stream bed. Not too deep they were, or if they were deeper, we we able to skirt the edge. And then we came to a pool that had a rim at its downstream end... a suspiciously tidy and constructed looking rim. Yeah. A rather beaver-y looking dam, in fact.

Yes, beavers indeed. We almost immediately encountered another pool. And another dam. And this time, the pool was big and long and very deep - well over our heads. We are forced up and into the bushes on one side of the pool. The bushes were stiff and dense and tough to pass.
Much deepness
The pools and dams, they do not stop. We discovered that they continue on, pool after pool, seemingly without end. Large, long sections of creek bed were flooded to well over head height, filled with still, stagnant water. We were forced to stay on the banks on either side of these pools. And it was clear that no other human had been through here in a while: the brush on these banks were clearly untouched by any creature that was not one foot high, round and furry (there were plenty of little tunnels through the brush at ground level).

Pushing through that brush soon became agonizingly slow. The reeds and plants had dried out and become quite rigid. The person at the head of the line had to quite literally often apply full body weight, and then only be rewarded with a tiny move forward. Often the springiness of the vegetation bounced you back. Little scratches and cuts soon accumulated on our bare arms and legs, and especially on the shins.
Yep, Beavers for sure
It took us an hour and a half to cover about 300 yards of distance. That is perhaps the most illustrative way to describe how slow and arduous was our progress through this hellish beaverscape. I would look down at my GPS after ten or fifteen minutes of effort, and it would show that we were only a few tens of metres closer to 25 mile wash. And then the horrifying thought came to us: what if these beavers had taken over 25-mile wash itself?

Earlier in the day, I had in my mind that we would reach 25-mile wash and then have a bit of time to head down-wash to a super-nice campsite, well before sunset. Now I was starting to wonder if we would even manage to get out of these endless thickets before it got dark. Jenn and Alana even started musing about having to pad out a sleeping bag-sized space amongst the reeds and just sleeping down in here somewhere, but that idea quickly evaporated when a large water snake was spotted.
Nearly impenetrable
Owie Ouchie
Waiting Game
By about 8pm, we were still not at the end of the tributary, still had not reached 25-mile wash. Gino got Chris to scramble up a nearby rocky chimney that seemed to lead up to a sandstone ledge above the brushy floor of the canyon. He soon returned and indicated that yeah, it wasn't too bad. Passable. We could probably camp there. I scrambled up after him and had a look around for myself. It was indeed a reasonable spot, with enough mostly flat tent spots on clean slickrock. I could also see a little further downcanyon, and saw the junction with 25-mile wash. The silent malevolence of long, still water (i.e. clearly dammed water) was visible, beyond the junction. How much farther did *that* go on for, now?
Our ledge campsite
How much farther the beaver activity stretched.... that was a worry for tomorrow. For now, we had a campsite away from the brushy hell, and sunset was fast approaching. We set up a fireman's carry of sorts, ferrying packs and full bladders of untreated beaver water up the chimney and onto our camping ledge. Then, with everything up on our ledge, we were able to get our tents set up, get dinner going, set up the gravity filter, and then finally.... convene for a special backpacker's council meeting.

What was this backpacker's council meeting, you ask? Well, it was apparent to me (and perhaps also to the others) that our already long day, further exacerbated by our friendly neighborhood rodents, had put us quite a bit behind schedule. We had hoped for a campsite some way down 25-mile wash, which we had not achieved. We had hoped to camp at a relatively early hour, so as to be able to get up nice and early and tackle what would be another cross-country segment. We had not achieved that either. And finally, this final thrash that we had done had taken a bit of a physical and emotional toll on the group. I suggested that it might be more achievable to abandon our original traverse route and, instead of finishing up at the Redwall Trailhead, that we loop back north up the Escalante River and make our way eventually back to our start point at the Harris Wash trailhead.

There were no dissenters and the motion was adopted pretty quickly. I think everyone knew that to continue on our original itinerary at this point would be quite a stretch. We'd likely be continually trying to "catch up" shortfalls of distance and time, which would likely turn a challenging and enjoyable backpack into a forced march. And no one wanted that.
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