Cartridge Pass and Muro Blanco 2006

Muro Blanco Canyon to Paradise Valley

Friday, August 25, 2006

Index <<Previous Next>>


The toughest hiking day I think I’ve ever done, or at least that I can remember at this time!  Our thrashing through aspens and other brush, some of them prickly and painful, continued today, and got worse as the day progressed.  We calculated yesterday that our speed in the canyon averaged out to around ½ mile per hour, as it had taken us around 6 hours to go 3 miles.  So we figured today, with 5 miles, should take us around 10 hours.  Darkness comes around 8pm in these parts this time of year, so we didn’t have a lot of extra time to spare.


Today we discovered that sometimes traveling in the river itself was the easiest route, and also opened up our options to crossing to the other side from time to time if the terrain looked better there.  Both of us had water shoes, which we normally consider to be just “camp shoes”—nice to be able to get out of the boots at the end of the day.  These shoes proved invaluable to be able to handle long stretches in the river, mostly less than knee-deep, but with round slippery rocks that make barefoot walking difficult.


Eventually we rounded the corner far enough, and could see the wall that marked the end of Paradise Valley, with the river heading to the right and Woods Creek joining it from the left.  We could see how far ahead of us the goal for the day was.  A campsite on the west side of the river (best one we saw in the lower canyon) was just before the crossing of Kid Creek.


The last mile or so was fairly easy, walking through forest that was not too thick to easily avoid most of the trees, although there were plenty of fallen trees to climb over or walk around.  Finally we could see the new bridge over the river, from right at the point where Arrow Creek joins the river.  At this point we were on the east side of the river, and crossed back to the west side where we found a use trail leading to the back of the trail crew’s camp (crew working on the bridge and trail connections to it).  It was a relief to reach the numbered campsites of upper Paradise Valley, and the trail that would take us back to the car tomorrow.  We were both too exhausted to eat dinner, using our last hour of daylight to set up camp, wash up, and collapse into bed.  Turned out it had taken us around 11 hours to do the 5 miles, not far off of our prediction.  This was including breaks, none of which was much longer than 15 minutes.


At this point we both agreed not to do a canyon like this again, but who knows what the passage of time will do to our memories!


Journal Entry:  Difficult hike down the rest of the Muro Blanco canyon—averaged ½ mile per hour like yesterday.  Left camp at 7:40, arrived at the trail at Upper Paradise Valley at 6:30.  Alternated hiking over talus, through brush (some prickly, some very thick) and through the river itself with our water shoes.  Very exhausting, but quite an experience!


the massive granite wall Muro Blanco (Spanish for “White Wall”)

looking back up-canyon toward the “narrows”

river rushing over slabs


looking down-canyon

the wall that appears to be blocking the canyon marks Paradise Valley


nearing Paradise Valley


Index <<Previous Next>>