2019 Fall Gateway

mcaywood

streams dry up. This year, with the generous

snows we didn't have to worry about water. The

trails were originally established by the Civilian

Conservation Corps and could use a little tender

loving care. The condition of the trails varied from

just walking across a packed sand path to switchbacks

that were covered with round rocks. Cairns

were frequently well placed to make following the

trail easy. Sometimes it seemed there were too

many cairns. One of the hikers in our group successfully

hiked the entire trail in Chaco flip flops

without injury! I swore that, after seeing her accomplish

this feat, I wouldn't make fun of another

hiker in flip flops! To each their own! I'll just use

boots.

As we hiked up and down the trail, the beauty

around us kept changing. From a distance, Navajo

Mountain, which towers above Rainbow Bridge,

doesn't look all that jagged. The landscape unfolded

with amazing rock formations including fins

and canyons. We didn't have time to explore many

nearby places, and made a mental note to spend a

day longer, next time, to allow exploration. A look

at the topo map shows a general east-west line of

canyons, fins and cracks.

Several hours later, and countless photos taken,

our leader identifies our camp site for the night. It

is on a high, flat area with a splendidly expansive

view to the north. In the distance rose the Henry

Mountains. Between the Henrys and our camp,

thousands of canyons and countless rock formations

lie between. Water was about 1/2 mile away

from camp. While plentiful, it still needed to be

hauled to camp. I pulled out a featherweight cloth

bucket-bag and filled it with about a gallon of water.

One of the other hikers in our group and I

shared the task of hauling this precious resource.

We hung out by the campfire for a while, cooking

steaks and potatoes in the coals, fresh swiss chard

sauteed on a nearby backpacker's stove rounded off

14 Gateway to Canyon Country

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