Escalante horse trip

Joe Herbst beneath Wingate cliffs

Joe Herbst beneath Wingate cliffs

Still catching up with posts…

This spring break I joined my friend Joe in the Escalante area of southern Utah, riding horses and mules. Crossed the Escalante to the east side and camped off the Burr Trail on White Canyon Flat. From there we took a series of day rides, exploring the canyons that head west towards the river, and the draws that head east towards the Circle Cliffs.

We went down three different canyons, but they all narrowed up and became too rough to ride. They are beautiful and intricate, though, as they cut down through the White Rim sandstone.

Riding east towards the Circle Cliffs, we followed one draw up to a spectacular overlook of a canyon in the Waterpocket Fold, a tributary of Muley Twist Canyon. Another ride took us down a canyon that wound down into the edge of the fold, a variety of cliff aspects on every turn. It ended, for us, in a dry fall, though one could hike further down. Another day we rode up a draw to the base of the Circle Cliffs, 400 feet of red sandstone weathered into cracks and arches and spires. From there we rode along the top of the Shinarump formation that separates the flats from a “behind the ridge” area below the Circle Cliffs. We also explored other draws that go up through the Shinarump rim.

The weather that week was much colder than had been forecast, so we spent the nights with Joe’s titanium stove inside his teepee tent. A pretty slick setup! The days were nice, though, cool to warm, with a few light showers. A full moon eclipse occurred, and we stayed up to watch it, Joe lasting the whole time but me staying up for only the first part, and then hitting the sleeping bag.

Though this was spring break week, we saw very few people. Of course we saw no hikers because this is not known as the spectacular part of the Escalante canyons, though it compares well with the rest. But there were very few cars on the Burr Trail, which we expected would be chock full of people driving to Capitol Reef and beyond. Was it too cold for people? Did they all go somewhere else?

This is our second riding trip in the Escalante, the previous being spring break 2007. Far too long, both to spend quality time with Joe, and to be away for the Escalante. We may do it again in two years instead of seven. Though riding keeps us out of some of the most spectacular deep canyons, there are certainly many other areas to explore, years worth.

Photos on Flickr

About Dan Allison

Dan Allison is a Safe Routes to School Coordinator in the Sacramento area. Dan dances and backpacks, as much as possible.
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