Hayduke Route 20th day: 16.3 miles/297 total. Enter Lower Muley Twist Canyon and Halls Creek

Capitol Reef National Park is really an undiscovered gem. While people race to see the more famous Southern Utah National Parks (Zion, Bryce, and Arches), they often times overlook Capitol Reef National Park. This park is for backpacker’s and it is best explored on foot. Which is why I am so thrilled to be here today. While I have explored the northern section of the Park before, I have never really ventured out on the southern end. Well, entering Lower Muley Twist Canyon from the Burr Trail Road, you essentially enter the gut of the Water Pocket Fold. These are the type of canyons I dream about. Deep red hued sandstone canyons with huge alcoves and amphitheaters. Yes, I am home. The canyon wren sings to me as I walk down the canyon, and the swallows fly high above giggling like school children in a playground.

For 16.3 miles we meander lazily down this canyon, wind and sun in our face, a heavy pack that is lightened by my cheerful mood. We are surprised to find sufficient water despite the ongoing draught in intermittent potholes along the way. Muley Tanks, adjacent Halls Creek is the most impressive of the potholes, indeed being more tanks than potholes, easily containing over 500 gallons. It was tempting to take a dip in for a nice body soak, but in this country, water this good is reserved for drinking. There is an old saying out here in the arid west, ”whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over.” Not sure if we’d have water at our planned campsite, we decided to gather water here, as our campsite was only less than 3.5 miles away. Fortunately, there was water lightly flowing in the creek bed at our camp. Thank goodness for that. Even so, this trail has taught us to not take water for granted. As I doze off, I am delighted to be serenaded by the frogs that call that water home.

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