If Upper Muley Twist Canyon was spectacular, Lower Muley was even more so. I met my friend Corona Sam, who had previously secured our permits, down south on Friday night. After camping high on Boulder Mountain, we got an early start Saturday morning, heading south into Lower Muley.
Within a couple of miles, we dropped into a narrows in the canyon, with distinctive red rock. We noticed that the recent heavy rains had left their mark in the canyon - there was fresh debris strewn as high as eight feet above the canyon. But the highlight of Lower Muley is the huge alcoves that water has carved into the sandstone. Some of the alcoves were several hundred feet deep.
The trail meandered another seven miles south before finally merging with Halls Creek. At that point, we turned north and followed Halls Creek upstream. Of course, the term "creek" doesn't mean that there was any water at all in the drainage. There was, however, a patina of slippery, sticky clay-mud on the creek bottom which was impossible to walk on without skidding. It was a hot hike, in the full sunlight. We camped in a location that's absolutely definitely 100% legal, please don't ask me where.
The next day, Corona roadwalked a few miles (for which I ragged on him mercilessly) back to the car, while I took a supposedly sketchy overland route over the canyon rim and back into Lower Muley. There was a little bit of exposure, but it wasn't so bad... once I found the trail. Of course, the problem was finding the trail. Segue to...
Utterly Impractical Hiking Item of the Week. I've been using a free website (caltopo.com) to create map packs for my hikes. They allow me to carry just the maps I need, and to zoom in to whatever degree is necessary for effective navigation. Save the map packs as PDFs, and print them. On this particular hike, I had a larger-scale overview map, as well as detailed maps covering the entire route...
Except a very small slice. The slice that led from our entirely legal campsite over the rim back into the canyon. The same place I got off-track on, resulting in scrampbling up and down sketchy slickrock, only to get cliffed out after an hour and backtrack to the surely legal campsite to start the whole thing over again. Utterly Impractical Hiking Item goes to me. Sadface.
All photos - Tracy Martin