Jenn and Hurricane Narrows
Hiking down Hurricane Wash from this point is a nice experience, on account of the way the wash gradually deepens and changes in character. The first thing one notices are a few slightly damp spots of sand. Around the next corner, you spot a few thicker patches of bushes, then perhaps a small cottonwood tree or two. The slickrock walls gradually continue to rise.
A thin trickle of water appears in the streambed - then a profusion of rushes, horsetail, and other hydro-phyllic plants. The water starts to flow continuously, and with it, a full-blown jungle of big, leafy trees, thick brush, and a beautiful narrow sandy ribbon of flowing water right through it all. In the space of perhaps a kilometer, this transition is quite striking: we'd gone from dry desert to lush riparian zone, all framed by ever-rising walls of navajo sandstone, streaked with desert varnish. A veritable paradise in the desert!
Hurricane Wash was now a deep, major canyon. With the sheer walls on either side continuing to get higher and higher, we continued downstream. The flow here in Hurricane Wash was still feeble enough that we could hop back and forth as necessary, but we knew that the confluence with Coyote Gulch and its higher streamflow were just ahead. That would probably mean the start of stream wading.
Coyote Gulch was reached a few minutes later, and the little three-foot wide stream in Hurricane Wash joined the twenty-foot wide stream of Coyote Gulch. It was still less than a foot deep, but its much increased width meant it was no longer practical to stream hop. So, around the next bend, we stopped for a good long break, changing into our wading shoes, and taking time to drink in the grand scenery around us. It was also, from this point on, time to be on the lookout for a good campsite!
It was most pleasant to splash down the gently flowing creek, watching the canyon scenery slowly pass by. The bed of the creek was sandy, making for easy, trouble-free walking - good for allowing one to crane one's neck up at the high walls above.
The character of Coyote Gulch's sinuous canyon in this section is such that most of its bends have deeply incut alcoves. The leads to huge, seemingly impossible-looking severely overhanging walls. Often you are hiking in the streambed with perhaps a hundred feet of overhanging bedrock above you. The little stream is constantly carving the outside edge of these bends, making the overhangs ever larger.
Massive Overhanging Walls
Even with the stunning beauty of the overhanging walls, nothing prepares you for the beauty that presents itself a little ways further down. In addition to huge overhanging alcoves, we came across the beautiful opening of Jacob Hamblin Arch. The result of the cutting of two back-to-back alcoves into each other, Jacob Hamblin Arch and the immediate area around it are extremely beautiful. The area appears almost like a huge, natural-style building with graceful buttresses, arches and alcoves. Needless to say, we had to stop for a bit and drink it all in.
There were a number of good camping spots right next to the arch, but unfortunately, they were all taken. We continued on, following the course of the stream.
Our Monumental Campsite
Surprisingly, just around the next bend, we located a wide and high bench perfect for camping - and with no one camped on it! We briefly consulted and agreed that this was perfect. The bend was just a few hundred feet from Jacob Hamblin Arch. In fact, the slickrock ridge leading up from the campsite was in fact the lower end of the massive fin of rock out of which the arch was carved. The wall along the outer edge of the bend was another one of the huge, massively overhanging alcoves we had seen many of so far. This one was so vast, that even on the inside of the bend, we could look straight up and see that we were still underneath solid rock.
So, this would be it - our home for the night!
It was only about 5pm when we arrived and started setting up our camp, so we had lots of daylight to work with. We took our time, fetching and filtering water, cooking our dinner, and doing a bit of chatting, reading, relaxing, and exploring.
Murder mystery in the desert
Down here amidst all this beauty, it didn't really matter that we were doing something that we had already hiked before (well, some of us, at least). The weather was perfect, we were all in good shape, the scenery was grand, and we were among good friends. The sudden change in itinerary earlier in the day hadn't been a turn for the worse in any but the most trivial sense.
Night sky from Coyote Gulch
We watched a few of the early stars appear in the narrow circle of sky afforded us from our little spot in the bowels of the earth. I stayed up until it was dark enough to take a short time lapse photo of stars, then joined the others.
Below is a video sequence containing scenes from the first day of our Coyote Gulch Backpack. Click directly on the image below to start it.
Video, Coyote Gulch Backpack Day 1 - Click on video to start
Interactive Trackmap - Coyote Gulch Day 1 - Click Map to Expand
Hike Data - Coyote Gulch Backpack, Day 1
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain:
Total Elevation Loss:
* : +/- 75 feet