Moqui Canyon/North Gulch Loop - 2002
Short day to Harrison Spring
Monday, April 22 We awoke to a cool morning, but the sun was ready to hit us, and we knew it would warm things up. I think everyone was pretty relaxed, since we had already cut a mile and a half off of an already fairly short day. All we had to do was to get to Harrison Spring. Since we would be leaving Moqui Canyon at that point, there was no sense in going up canyon any further, as long as the spring was running. By this time, we had figured that if there was a marked spring, the chances of finding water near that point was pretty good. I was feeling particularly lazy, so Susie opted to head down to a site where there were supposed to be really good pictographs (near 546862 Easting, 4147807 Northing ). This was about a mile down canyon, and it is the only spot in Moqui written up in the book Ruins Seldom Seen. (I could not figure out if the title was a tribute to Ed Abbey's fictional hero in the Monkey Wrench Gang, Seldom Seen Smith.) She joined most of the rest of the crew. George headed up canyon, and I elected to stay and camp, performing mission critical tasks, such as munching on snacks, studying maps, and playing with my GPS. Susie returned a few minutes before 10:30, indicating that the petroglyphs were only "OK." (However, the rest of the group indicated she should have looked around longer: they were able to find some much more dramatic ones.)
She and I took off, following the so-called (on the map) four wheel drive road. The water in front of our camp quickly gave out, and we were left with a dry, broad canyon. Moqui is less interesting at this point. After about an hour of walking, we crossed the creek bed and saw water, so decided we would take a rest. (This was at 549,701 Easting, 4149,675 Northing). My back was soaked with sweat, but in the shade of a cottonwood, it seemed like late fall: very cool, especially with a breeze. We munched on snacks, but decided to postpone lunch, since it looked to be only about a mile from camp. As we headed on up canyon, we crossed another spot where water, albeit not much, was present in the creek bed. When we saw George at 12:15 under some cottonwoods just short of the canyon that houses Harrison Spring, we could see why he was stopped. These were the last shade trees anywhere in site. Harrison Spring canyon was just a couple of hundred meters away, and, well, this was the logical spot to make camp. Susie and I selected a spot under a horizontally growing cottonwood, since it offered some pretty good shade. We could feel the day warming up, and although the weather forecast we had was several days old, the weather was following the predicted warming trend. Susie and I still had plenty of water, so we decided to eat lunch while we chatted with our official campsite finder for the trip. Of course, he had arrived a couple of hours ahead of us, and noted that there was not any water in the stream beds nearby. However, maybe the spot we had crossed about 15 minutes down canyon could act as a bath spot. (Note to readers: This was a good example of why one does not completely rely on gray spots on the DOPQ's as a confirmed indicator of water. An examination of the Mancos Mesa DOPQ right outside our campsite [550,834 Easting, 4150,808 Northing} indicated gray in the creek bed. But in reality, for us, it was dry as the proverbial cattle bone in the desert.)
George decided to hike up to get water at the spring, and we decided to wait for his report before doing anything more constructive. The day was getting warm, and the lack of flowing water made me want to stick by camp and our soon to be filled water bag. George returned in about 40 minutes, indicating that there was a spring and it was flowing and there was plenty - although not a lot - of water, about 150 feet elevation above camp. Susie and I, seeking to get some more to drink, decided we would take all our water bottles (four) as well as our 10 L water bag, and make a run. To get to the spring, one goes through the gate on the old uranium exploration road, and climbs at a good clip for a bit. The road levels out, and just before it makes a hairpin turn and begins climbing again, you can follow the wet sand back to a series of pools. I don't know how hard this spring will be running at other times of the year, but it was enough on this afternoon. The bath spot was that small shallow pool of water about 15 minutes down canyon from camp. Thus our "commute" and subsequent chores and return took a chunk of time.
I got really hot crossing the sandy benches on the way back to camp and was grateful for the shade. Susie expressed her gratitude by taking a nap away from the gnats in the tent. I studied maps, while the remainder of the crew drifted in, having explored side canyons, or their navels. Susie's latest concern seemed to be the tree near our tent. She was convinced it would fall on us during the night. Now I have done a lot of canyon hiking and have seen fallen cottonwood trees. Judging from my experience at counting rings, this tree had to be at least 300 years old. But Susie seemed to be convinced it would fall on us (it was only a couple of feet above the tent) sometime in the next two nights, crushing us. Now I realize that there are no guarantees, but without wind, the chances seemed pretty slim. We argued back and forth, Susie for irrational fear, and me for rational risk assessment. I lost, and we moved the tent a few feet. She accused me of being hostile, and I accused her of being nuts. Things went downhill from there.
After dinner, Ray went off exploring in one direction and Barbara another. Barbara returned soon, but Ray was gone a long time. We were gathered around our campfire when he returned in the dark. He reported he had found a really nice spring, not far from camp, by listening to the water running. (It was a calm night, but Ray also wears hearing aids, so I figured the flow in this spring had to be pretty good.) We all resolved to check it out in the morning on our layover day tomorrow, and concentrated on charbroiling marshmallows.
© Roger A. Jenkins, Suzanne A. McDonald, 2002