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.

Continued from page 1: On Tuesday we headed for the local high points – two isolated mesas that stood about a thousand feet above the canyon bottoms. We started up the canyon immediately opposite camp, but were stopped in its damp upper reaches by poison ivy. By working our way under the cliff line on the south edge of the canyon, we found a path onto the slick rock, and reached the first mesa at the end of the longest slickrock climb in my memory. The mesa was a rounded white dome topped by a red numb, an isolated fragment of an overlying red layer. The top felt like the center of the Universe, isolated above a sea of slickrock wilderness in every direction. The USGS marker nearly at the summit stood about 30 feet below the summit of a multi-acre red mesa about a quarter-mile (?) away. To cross from one peak to the next, we found a path across a deep intervening gully, up the broken rim of the red rock, and some distance across the red soil to a gentle peak. From the top and edges we could look down into the upper reaches of the South Fork of Ticaboo, and saw the water tank that marks the trail into that tributary.

Our biggest adventure of the trip came on our return from the summit. With a view towards a straightforward route back to camp, we dropped down the gully crossed on the way to the mesa summit. This required some rope work down the fragile rope of a steep gully, and took us into a deep canyon that promises a clean shot to the rim just above camp. Things did not work out that simply, however. Our canyon ended up ten feet above a cross canyon, whose far side was our path to home. Karl went uphill and found a friction path up and over the domes, but one too steep to take the whole party. Instead, we lowered most of our team by rope to the cross-canyon bottom, while Martin and Ron were brave enough to drop that last 7 feet unroped. A deep wade took us to an easy step out of the cross canyon, and onto the rim rock and way home. It was nearly 7 PM by the time we reached camp, but things worked out much better than I thought when I first encountered the obstacle, scouting solo ahead of our main party.

The last obstacle on our way home – a chest deep pool
below the drop into the cross canyon.

Wednesday was the middle day of our trip, and we relaxed our ambition after two hard days of hiking. We crossed just south of the mouth of the Middle Fork.  We found some nice semi-narrows, with pools suitable for a quick dip, and reached a mesa top for another view of the slickrock sea. A highlight of the Ticaboo country is the Henry Mountains, which loom in the background so often, as one looks up a canyon or across a sandstone monument. The contrast between the dark rock of the Henrys and the sandstone is always a surprise. Our Wednesday mesa was covered with boulders, and an isolated piece of the pre-erosional surface that reached to the pass between the two peaks of the Little Rockies.

On Thursday, we went up the ridge between the North Fork and East Fork, looking up the North Fork to the flat slickrock expanse that was the end point of our February 2009 exploration. (At that time, Kathleen, Momo Vuyisich, and I established that we could reach Ticaboo oasis from between the Little Rockies, but at considerable distance. From our viewpoint, we crossed the East Fork, another sandstone drainage, then up a set of waterpockets to a view up one of the deep canyons in the fingers of the East Fork. Jan, Marilyn, Ron, and I explored up the easternmost of the fingers and the rest up one of the western ones. Both fingers were deep sandstone canyons, but if there were any slots at the upper end, they were blocked by thickets and poison ivy.

Your fearless leader and author, with the Henry Mountains behind.

Our last hike, on Friday the 8th, was the most spectacular of all, though our distance was modest. Our destination was the drainage south of the Middle Fork, which drains the northwest side of Tuesday’s red mesa. We explored a region of wildly vertical topograph, cut by multiple drainages and structural cracks. The heart of this country was almost frightening in its complexity. There was not only a complex network of drainages, but cross-cutting structural features almost as deep. The day started up a side drainage, urged on by Martin, which led to a pretty slickrock pool and then to a steep bare drainage that steepened and narrowed until it was impassable. Once out of Martin’s drainage, we continued up canyon to a confluence of multiple drainages, and sat high on the slope above for lunch, looking across the slickrock domes to the Henry Mountains beyond. Our further adventures took us around various corners of a very mazy section. We tried to reach the gentle high red mesa of Tuesday, trying up a side canyon and a deep structural rift, but were blocked by distance in one case and a steep waterfall in the other.

On the last day, we left camp at about 9 AM and reached the deep pool at the bottom of Peshliki by about 11. We swam one more time, watched and fed the little fishies in the next pond down, then caught the boat at the water’s edge for run back to the docks. In our whole week upcanyon, we had seen exactly one party of two backpackers come past us. But in our hour’s trip along the lake, we passed about a dozen boats, and knew that our escape from civilization was over.

We found an adventuresome day hike each of our five days in camp.
click map for larger view

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