2011 RUNNING & TRAVEL ADVENTURES

 

   
 
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   CAPROCK CANYONS TRAILS:
UPPER CANYON LOOP, p. 2

SATURDAY, MAY 14

 
 
(Continued from page1)

Here's the relevant map section again for the Upper Canyon Trail loop:

I hiked CW around this loop, beginning at the red X.

On the last page I described the first 1 miles of the Upper Canyon Trail (A) from the parking area to the trail leading to the South Prong primitive camping area. So far, the trail has been easy to negotiate.

After this intersection the trail continues to cross wet and dry stream beds. However, it becomes more narrow, gets more rocky, and gradually starts to climb:

 

 

 

 

Then it suddenly begins to climb very steeply up the canyon walls on the right, toward Haynes Ridge. Hikers or runners who aren't interested in gnarly trail should turn around here. I was too curious to stop!

This is the first part of trail I encountered today that is marked "extremely steep and rugged" and it IS. There are a lot of loose rocks, large rocks to go over or around, and narrow ledges. It's the first section going CW around the loop that I marked in red on the map above.


Steep and rocky

The trail switchbacks numerous times as it ascends high above the canyon floor.

I had to stop frequently, not just to see where I'd been and to look at the spectacular views in three directions, but also to figure out where to put my feet next. There were a few signs with little arrows indicating which direction to go, but mostly I had to scan ahead and above me to see where was the best place to walk.


View in one direction as I climbed higher


Twists and turns


Looking back down the trail

In just a few minutes of scrambling over rocks I was looking down several hundred feet into the canyon floor below, to the trail where I'd just been walking. You can tell from the series of photos on this page that I was getting higher and higher: 

 

 

About halfway up I came to a spot that had me befuddled at first.

I surveyed this curve in the trail for a good minute trying to decide if I should play Spider(wo)man and try to creep around it on the narrow rock ledge:

 

I had trouble taking photos in the deep shade of the mid-morning but you get the idea. I lightened up the darkest parts in PhotoShop to give you a better look at my conundrum. The ledge was less than a foot wide and overhanging rocks were only about three feet above it. How could a tall, inflexible person crouch down AND keep her feet on that narrow ledge??

I finally realized the only way I'd get myself to the other side of this curve in one piece was to deliberately slide down about four feet into that hole and use a four-point climb (both arms and legs) to hoist myself up the other mostly-vertical wall on the far side. I had to throw my trekking pole up first, but it worked.

The next photo is a look back (into the sun) at that rocky cove:

After that, I wondered just how much worse it would get!

Cody is part mountain goat; he did just fine with that challenge and all the other rock scrambling. I did fine going up the cliffs but worried that I might get into even worse terrain farther along the loop. I dreaded coming back down this way.

I kept going, knowing I could do it if I really had to. Fortunately, that was the toughest spot on the whole loop. Note to self:  never do this loop the other direction (CCW).

The remaining photos on this page show what the trail and some of the views looked like as I continued up to the highest point (3,100 feet) near the intersection with the Haynes Ridge Overlook Trail:

 

 


Looking back down: this smooth bedrock was easy to climb while dry but it might be slick when wet.


Looking back down at some boulders I climbed


Thataway over more rocks . . .


Another steep spot with loose rocks


Ahhh . . . but the views make it all worthwhile!!


Not near the summit yet but look how high we've gotten so far;
that's the trail 'way down there where we were a little while ago.


The arrow is pointing to one of the trail markers that helps hikers negotiate through the rock mazes.


Acrophobics beware!


It's a long way down if you slip off any of the ledges.

Ridge walk continued on next page . . .

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the Ultra Lab

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2011 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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