Halls Creek Narrows

Looking out at the baking sun

Looking out at the baking sun

Located near the southeast corner of Capitol Reef, Halls Creek Narrows are hard to reach from any kind of civilization. However, they are almost on the way from the Henries west (via the scenic Barr Trail Road), and were recommended by a friend much more familiar with canyon country than Yours Truly. Halls Creek is the kind of narrows that requires significant wading with shoes on, triggering my cat-like distaste for getting wet. However, I’m glad I did them; the water was clean and never more than crotch-deep, and even pleasant on a hot day.

I got started around sunrise on the rim, and was thankful to be in the shade most of the way down the broad canyon to the narrows entrance. I saw two other parties along the way — this is another popular area of the boonies. Halls Creek follows and obvious, broad gully between two long sandstone ridges, then inexplicably burrows through the western one for a few miles rather than going through a mound of dirt called the Halls Divide. It returns to its obvious course afterward, and continues to the Colorado as if nothing happened.

I reached the narrows just as the day started to turn unpleasantly hot and, after psyching myself up for a minute, stepped into the first wet section. I converted my pants to shorts, but kept my running shoes on; the canyon bottom is mostly soft sand, so I could have waded barefoot, but there are enough wet sections, with enough walking between them, that this would be terribly inefficient. Besides, in the dry heat, my shoes dried in no time.

The canyon is never especially narrow, but has many bends with overhanging outer walls, some sheltering little green oases of trees and cat-tails. Most of the wading sections were no more than calf-deep, with one thigh-deep and the final one crotch-deep. I took my time in this section, both to fiddle with my camera trying to deal with the huge dynamic range between sky and shady canyon, and because I knew that the return would be a hot, dry, sandy death-march.

Leaving the canyon, I swapped in some dry socks, dipped into my podcast collection, and got to work. Shortly after crossing the strange Divide, which has its own small streambeds cut into either side, I met a family with a baby-pack, then was alone with my growing thirst for the march back to the trailhead. I had brought about 2 liters of water, which would normally be enough for a 20-mile day, but I am unaccustomed to desert outings, and was thoroughly parched by the time I struggled up out of the wash.

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