An Immediate Return to Second Left Hand Canyon. With a Truck.
As Tom and I explored the lower regions of Second Left Hand Canyon we knew that we needed to enlist our friend Terry and his truck in order to get beyond where we’d been. As luck would have it we had scheduled a hike with him the following day and so after informing him of the plan, we all headed off up canyon the very next morning. Bringing the truck turned out to be a very smart idea: the rough dirt and rock road soon became muddy with snow melt and then became flecked with patches of snow itself. Some areas too had been washed out, all of which was above my car’s paygrade.
Driving up the canyon we traveled through healthy dense pine and fir forest and more of the sandstone hoodoos and conglomerates we’d seen below. It was quite beautiful and Terry was scoping out potential camping places while he was driving. As we climbed in altitude and snow became more prevalent we all decided to stop and find a place to hike, wherein a very steep sandstone hill appeared to our left which I immediately decided we should climb. Difficult footing and a stupid amount of slope contributed to a very hard scramble; the descent (after we reached the point in which the rock was no longer going to support our attempts to scale it) involved lots of sliding and some ungraceful, if not slightly dangerous, maneuvering. All was not in vain however because in addition to the fantastic vistas from up there, Tom had spotted a really lovely looking side canyon.
This turned out to be incredibly fortunate because as we walked up this side canyon we realized it was very possibly the most beautiful one we’d ever been in. Similar to the landscape of Red Canyon, the vivid orange sandstone hoodoos provided stark contrast to the rich deep greens of the fir and spruce. As we picked our way upstream the geology became even more dramatic and the trees taller, clear water cascaded over boulders and ledges, and bright white snow pockets offset the saturated palette. It was superb.
The canyon split at about a mile and we first turned east, continuing our way up the mesa. This canyon split again numerous times, often dead ending in dry falls, but I scurried ahead through one split for another half mile after we’d been walking up the east fork for an hour and noted that this one at least continued on. At this point however we’d been exploring for over 3 hours and hadn’t even entered the west canyon at the original split so we agreed to backtrack and the continue on up that fork. None of these canyons were anything less than spectacular, but this one was probably the most photogenic in addition to having a tiny waterfall running through a hollow log. Unfortunately my photo of the stream running through the log is uninspired at best. I took a video, but I can’t upload those to the blog.
This west fork ended abruptly a mile from the split in a waterfall and thick snowpack which ended our exploration and caused us to retrace our steps down canyon. It was such an overwhelmingly beautiful hike that none of us wanted it to end but it turned out to be a good stopping point time-wise. And though we’d probably only covered 6 or 7 miles, there was a fair amount of scrambling involved at many points and so we felt as though we’d earned our beer. Speaking of scrambling, the opportunity to climb up slickrock and sandstone is something I really, really enjoy and so in addition to this being an stunningly gorgeous hike, it had been a really fun one. It was pretty much the perfect day, a fact that I couldn’t help but be aware of, even before we even reached our turnaround.