Member Trip Report



Ticaboo Oasis Backpack
May 2-10, 2009

Author and Trip Leader: Bill Priedhorsky - Bio.

Photo Gallery: by Jan Studebaker - click here.

Participants: Karl and Virginia Buckendahl, Kathleen Gruetzmacher, Jackie Little, Ron Morgan, Terry Morgan (no relation), Martin Staley, Jan Studebaker, Marilyn Yeamans, and Bill Priedhorsky.

For many years, it has been Mountaineers tradition to organize multi-day outings to the Utah canyon country. At one time, these spring and fall trips were supplemental to our real outdoor activities, summering among mountain peaks, but they long since became the highlights of our annual schedule. The spring 2009 was held from May 2-10 in the upper reaches of Ticaboo Canyon, under the Little Rockies – the southernmost peaks of the Henry Mountains. The goal of our trip was to find a huge mass of slickrock, and we succeeded.

The Ticaboo crew at the center of the Universe atop the central mesa
 in Ticaboo country
(photo courtesy Terry Morgan).

Our camp in Ticaboo Canyon was about 3 ½ miles from the water’s edge of Lake Powell. Water in Ticaboo is available only at and below springs, and runs for about a quarter mile near the lake, and again near our campsite, in what we called the Ticaboo oasis.

The easiest way to reach our campsite was by backpacking from Lake Powell. The overland route, which passes between Mounts Ellsworth and Holmes, requires a slog of about ten miles from the blacktop (Utah highway 276). We arranged a boat ride from Bullfrog Marina in two boats. It took about an hour to reach the mouth of Ticaboo Canyon from the Marina, and the ride uplake was, as usual, spectacularly scenic. The fee for our dropoff and pickup was about $1,200.

In recent years, we have hired llama or horse packers to carry our gear to a drop camp. From a single base camp, we would go out on exploratory hikes every day. This time, we also explored out from a base camp, but we were our own llamas. Although we cut our loads substantially from the llama/horse level (lighter chairs, only one folding table, no wine cellar), we certainly did not pare down to the bare essentials. The men carried packs approaching 60 pounds, with Ron carrying 70. As a result, we did not exactly sprint up from the lake, and our hike from the lake took us 3 ½ hours, including a stop for lunch.

The upper reaches of Ticaboo Canyon are a chaotic maze of slickrock. We had wanted to explore this country in more detail ever since we backpacked into a camp near the lake in October of 1989. The convoluted slickrock of upper Ticaboo was just barely reachable in a day hike from the lake, and we wanted to get closer. We returned in October 2008, and again camped near the lake, day hiking to find found what became this year’s campsite.

Doing what we did every day: Marilyn hiking the slickrock.

Our home was a sandy shelf above the creek, at the downstream end of the water that flowed from upstream springs. The water was particularly clear, with much less water filter clogging than other canyon country sources. Besides the chairs and table that we carried in, there was more permanent furniture including rock and log chairs and tables, and a cowboy table wired together from sticks. The only down side was the gnats, who troubled some of us who were particularly allergic.

Swimming in the Peshliki pool – over our heads and long enough to do laps.

We hiked each of our five full days in camp. On the first day, Monday the 4th, after a false start up a dead end mesa, we found a route to the east to Peshliki Creek. Miles of canyon and mesa opened up as we cleared the last few steps to the ridge. There were only a few routes down, but we indeed found a break in the cliffs and reached the sandstone creek bottom. Drainages that reach to the Henrys, like the main forks of Ticaboo, are clogged with hard rock boulders. Although these must contribute to the erosion of the spectacular landshapes, they make for difficult walking. Peshliki in contrast drains a sandstone mesa, and makes for easy going.

Peshliki ends at Ticaboo a few hundred yards above the lake, dropping in a waterfall to a deep swimming hole. So we swam in water at least ten feet deep, with water dripping from springs in the walls and a convenient diving ledge about ten feet up. We finished our Monday hike by picking up some optional gear that we had left at the waters edge – extra stove fuel and two boxes of wine – and hiking back up Ticaboo to camp, after a nine-hour outing.

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