For day two of our anniversary trip, I had planned to hike the Maidenwater/Trail Canyon Loop east of the Henry Mountains. I was very saddened when we woke up Sunday Morning to gray skies and sprinkles. This would be the second time the weather would keep me out of Maidenwater which is a deep slot with few escape routes if flooded. I frantically searched through my guidebooks. Ah ha! Upper Muley Twist. Not typically enjoyable in summertime due to its low altitude, but today appeared to be the perfect day for this 10-miler in Capitol Reef's southern Water Pocket Fold district. The canyon does constrict in a few places but rain isn't much of a problem since escape routes are plentiful and roughly half the hike is on a ridge line.
Here are a few photos from our hike:
Above: natural arches and windows are among the many highlights along Upper Muley Twist. We spotted this window before we even hit the trailhead.
Above: these knobs appear to be weathered remains of vertical animal burrows or perhaps root clasts in the Kayenta. OR, are they the fingertips of an unseen creature trying to escape the underworld?
Above: perhaps the most impressive of all arches along the hike (I lost track, but there are around seven or so) is Saddle Arch.
Above: Muley Arch.
Above: Even more fascinating than the arches, are the incredible "pillows" or exhumed petrified dunes of the Wingate. The Wingate usually forms tall fluted cliffs, but the erosion patterns are strikingly different here where everything is tilted along the Water Pocket Fold.
Above: detail of the petrified dunes.
Above: the trail eventually climbs to the crest of the fold offering interesting views in all directions, here looking at the curvature of the fold looking south.
Above: the view to the west toward the eroded tops of the Wingate cliffs.
Above: looking east toward Tarantula Mesa and 11,500-foot Mt. Ellen--highpoint of the Henrys.
Above: Susie in a particularly colorful part of Muley Twist.
A great hike. It never rained, and sun came out now and again. But temps stayed moderate and we had a blast.
A big thanks to our niece Lindsey and her husband Sam for watching our kids over the weekend!