I told some friends that I was going to be in southeast Utah so we planned for a couple nights in the backcountry of Canyonlands' Needles District. The plan was to drive to a remote trailhead and then hike cross country to a remote corner of Bears Ears National Monument.
We headed out over Elephant hill in my buddy’s 4x4 vehicle out to the Joint Trail just in time for the sunset and full moonrise. From there we hiked up Chesler Wash under the full moon where we camped out in the wash. The next morning we woke up and scouted a route up a Chesler Wash tributary that would hopefully take us into Butler Wash. As we made our way up the canyon we were making good time until we found a difficult obstacle to climb with our overnight packs on. My buddy had a climbing rope on him so we decided to scramble up the feature and pull our packs up via the rope. Once we made it over that obstacle we were greeted with a spectacular view of Chesler Wash.
As we continued up Butler Wash we found some cool stuff along the way including some deer antlers and a fossil.
If any of you have ever hiked in the desert you know how important and difficult it is to find water. A friend of ours had told us a general area where he found water once in the past so that was our immediate goal. We were told that we would see a petroglyph panel and that water would be in drainage near the panel. So as we got to the area where we were supposed to find the panel I ran out of water, and we only had a few liters between the 3 of us. So if we weren’t able to find water, we would have to turn around and bail on the trip. So you can imagine the joy we felt when we saw this in the distance.
In addition to the panel, we also found potsherds, hand pictographs, lithics, and WATER!! Finding a good source of water in the desert is always a reason for celebration. Now that we were good to push on, we headed into Starvation Pocket where we would find some elk and mountain lion tracks. We then setup camp just in time to enjoy a nice sunset and moonrise.
The last day we decided to take a different route to avoid having to down climb the feature the day before. We made it up butler wash very easily but had a difficult time finding a way down into Chesler Wash. Our route kept getting cliffed or pinched out so we just kept probing until we found a way through where we were greeted with another great view of Chesler Wash.
Eventually we made our way back to the wash and then the car. We started our drive back home and decided to take a side trip to the confluence overlook, which is the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers. This is the also the river that we hope to float later in April. So all in all is was a blast of a trip. Utah in March is pretty amazing and I am looking forward to getting back here next month.
Trip notes: We ended up hiking around 15 miles total, mostly flat. This area can be very difficult to overnight unless you are willing to carry all your water, or, have some good intel on where to find water like we did. Every trip I do in Canyonlands is awesome and it seems to keep moving up on my list of favorite parks.