The crest of the fold was a great place to stop and have our lunch. Great view, no wind, and it was... lunchtime.
It was great to be here again, 20 years on. The only slight negative... the sky. There was a persistant high thin cloud deck, and that made everything a bit muted. How wonderful it would be to be up here with a crystal clear sky and a low sun angle (either morning or evening). Now *that* would be spectacular.
After lunch, it was time to start the coolest and most scenic part of the hike: the walk south, down along the crest of the Waterpocket Fold. There was no real trail here on the bare white slickrock - just the occasional little cairn marking the way. Generally you simply head south, staying on the crest of the ridgeline.
I took a few nice sideways-against-scenery shots as we walked along the crest, including a re-creation of a nice shot I took of Brian when we were here twenty years ago. I didn't get the focal length right, but I did a pretty good job of capturing the pose. Shall we come back again in 20 and take another shot, Brian?
Checking out the Grand View
There were amazing views - especially southward - to the line of the fold and the lines of tilted strata down in Strike Valley. The lines could be seen receding tens and tens of miles into the distance. Off to our left was the constant outline of the 11,000+ foot high Henry Mountains - the last mountains in the lower 48 to be mapped.
The walk south along the crest was fairly flat at first, and extremely straightforward and easy. It was like walking on pavement, and really, you could have driven a car - at speed - over this terrain. Eventually, however, we came to a few spots where the ridgeline became a bit more lobed, and we had to descend and re-ascend a few bits of steeper slickrock.
I've talked quite a bit about the expansive views to the east, and that is probably the direction that draws the eye the most. However, the views west, especially on the southern part of the ridgewalk, were also quite excellent. Frequently we were able to walk right to the edge of a vertical drop and look directly down into the wash of Upper Muley Twist -- the very wash we had walked up a few hours before. On the opposite side of the wash were those huge tilted sections of orange-colored Wingate again - except now we were seeing them from a higher, wider-angled viewpoint. They looked just as weird and amazing as they had from below.
Continuing southward walk
It took a little over two hours to hike down the length of the ridge portion of the Upper Muley Twist hiking route. Towards the southern end of this section, the crest lowered and flattened out enough to allow the trail a fairly gentle and obstacle free descent down to the close of the loop across from Saddle Arch.
North Along Strike Valley
Back in Upper Muley Twist
After the scenery of the ridgewalk, the final bit of walk back down the Upper Muley Twist Wash to the car was (by comparison) a bit mundane. It was easy and quick, though, and we were soon back at the car. A bit of easy 4WD-ing back down along the access road and we were back at the Burr Trail.
This is certainly one of Capitol Reef's most interesting dayhikes. We really must come back here again in the most dramatic of lighting conditions. I think the scenery would then be even more incredible to behold.
Upper Muley Twist - Hike Data
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain:
Total Elevation Loss:
* : +/- 75 feet
After the Upper Muley Twist hike, we headed west along the Burr Trail, soon cross out of the lands of Capitol Reef NP and into the lands of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. We first checked out the Deer Creek campground, a small six or eight spot park campground. It was, however, full. We then succumbed to the lure of prepared and non dehydrated food and went for dinner at the Hell's Backbone Grill in Boulder.
Good Campsite Score
Dusk was approaching after our (glorious) dinner, and we sped back east along the Burr Trail road, hoping to locate an at-large place to camp (at-large camping in the monument is permitted along the park's secondary roads). We found a great location in the dry cedar-dotted flats next to the Lampstand Road, north of the Burr Trail and not too far from where we wanted to do our next day hike. There were oodles of nice flat dry ground spots to place tents, easy access with the car, and there was not a soul around. Perfect!!