Day hikes from our comfortable base camp will enable us to explore 3 canyons—Little Death, Wolverine, and Horse. This blog post introduces Horse Canyon and includes a few photos for illustration.
COTTONWOODS, HORSE CANYON. Not far from camp, newly budded leaves of cottonwood trees catch the morning sun as it peeks over the walls of Horse Canyon. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes
Horse Canyon is a very long, north-south trending canyon that begins in the vicinity of the town of Escalante and continues to the Escalante River. Usually dry, the canyon starts as a wide, sandy wash that heads south, Eventually, the wash encounters more resistant sandstone where, over time, its intermittent flow of water has created a narrower, high-walled canyon that continues to the river.
Our base camp for the workshop is near the junction of Little Death Hollow (LDH) and Horse Canyon—a place where the water table rises to the surface and forms shallow pools in the wash. One of our day hikes from camp will take us down Horse Canyon, The canyon is about 150 yards wide at that point and is bordered by high walls that drop stepwise to the canyon floor. The canyon maintains its width but the walls get higher as we approach the Escalante River.
TERRACED DESERT GARDEN. In this section of Horse Canyon, the walls drop in steps, forming ledges, or terraces, that support vegetation. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes
SURFACE WATER AND REFLECTIONS. Ground water reaches the surface at several spots in Horse Canyon. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes
STONE GLYPHS. A short distance up canyon from our camp, the surface of Horse Canyon's walls have been eroded by water into fantastic, abstract shapes—here resembling the indecipherable glyphs of an obscure language. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes
Since water is not far below the surface, the canyon is relatively well-vegetated with willows and cottonwood trees. About two miles from camp, Horse Canyon comes to an end at the knee-deep Escalante River. Since this area of the river canyon contains evidence of structures and rock art made by prehistoric Fremont people (Fremont) more than 800 years ago, it can be interesting to explore.
At the end of the day, we gather at camp for another prepared meal, perhaps some feedback on our images from the day, and some good conversation. After a night's sleep we'll do it all over again!
Part 3 of this Blog will offer a brief introduction to Wolverine Canyon.
CRASHING WAVE. Close to the Escalante River, this breaking "lithic wave" is near the end of Horse Canyon. It illustrates the sort of "melting rock" (resembling the dripping icing on a cake) found in this area. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes