Our plan was to make a second camp not far before reaching the lower end of Coyote Gulch. Since it was only noon and we were only a few kilometres away, we decided to have a nice post-lunch relaxation session. This involved a bit of snoozing and a bit of exploring (there is a very pretty waterfall that the stream makes over a kayenta shelf just few feet downstream).
Well-rested now, we continued on downcanyon. The recent cascades and waterfalls had signalled an important change in the rock strata through which we were hiking. Back upstream, we had entirely been within the realm of the navajo sandstone. It is that rock unit that lends itself so well to monumental alcoves and arches. Down here, however, the stream had cut into the next formation below: the Kayenta sandstone. The Kayenta is not smooth and uniform like the wind-blown navajo; Instead, it forms rocky ledges and steps. We were indeed in the realm of ledges and steps, as evidenced by the sequence of cascades and waterfalls we were hiking past.
Path through pretty cottonwoods
We stopped at a particularly scenic waterfall and took some portraits, as well as cooling ourselves off from the growing warmth of the day.
Jenn and Roy at Waterfall
Below the waterfall, the correct route down-canyon is not immediately obvious. The correct course is to follow a fairly narrow ledge to the right of the streambed, and about twenty feet above it. This ledge leads to a slightly exposed 15 to 20 foot scramble down a smooth slab of slickrock. Nothing too difficult, although Ewart did help Jenn and Roy down with a bit of driftwood. This spot is the 'most technical' bit one will encounter on a backpack in Coyote Gulch.
Below the scrambly bit of slickrock, the easy flat splashing in the stream resumes - for a while. There is another ledgy bit that we skirted by following a fairly airy path on a high bench above the floor. this path braids several times - including one branch that continues ahead on an even airier ledge. However, we chose a branch that led down a steep but fairly easy downclimb back to the streambed. It is possible that staying in the streambed itself would have been easier over this stretch, but we did not go back and scout that out.
Lower Coyote Gulch
Up to this point, we had passed several excellent campsites, but always we decided to forge on just a little farther. We were being picky, if I do say so - we wanted something tonight with less shade and more sun.
Second day's campsite
We were passing around a rather unappealing dry section with an eroded bank, and noticed that on the far side, there was a clump of nice cottonwood trees and what looked to be a small but potentially serviceable little bench a safe elevation up from the streambed. A quick scout revealed that it was more than adequate, it was superb: flat, soft ground with enough space for three or four tents, all shaded by three nice cottonwood trees, yet fully out in the open otherwise. There was a very pretty view downcanyon; we could even see impressive Stevens Arch in the distance.