Cedar Pocket, Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area, Arizona, Part 2: Climb Every Mountain, Ford Every Stream
As I said in my last post, there are no trails in the Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area, but access is unrestricted so the following morning, exploring I went. I started by crossing the Virgin River just downstream of camp and began walking up a wash until the canyon walls started to get steep before hiking out towards the mountains. The scramble to the rim provided fantastic views down the wash of the main canyon and the river plain, and as a bonus I came upon a small arch near the top.
Once I got to the top I looked across the hills … and then decided to climb a mountain. Crossing the scrub took awhile and after reaching the base of the mountain things looked a little steeper and more challenging but I kept on. About halfway up, the journey went from a steep hike to a climb that required route readjustments and negotiation with regards to footing. I was attacked by more than a few cacti and spiky desert plants but made it up without any problems. To my surprise I discovered the mountain was more of a ridge and offered views into a whole other canyon. I hiked around for while and went almost to the next peak but after determining that the only way down was the way I’d come up, I backtracked. The descent was a good deal trickier than the ascent and there was a lot of sliding and holding on to whatever I could find, but it was completely worth it: Not only had I seen some amazing views and had a blast climbing, but I had a sense of exhilaration in forging my own trail.
Finally, I hiked down a different wash, rejoining the main canyon farther downstream and then walked back up to a good crossing point. It was about 7 or 8 miles total and a truly fantastic day.