Day 3

March 30, 2010

Circumambulation of Fishtail Mesa (Day 1 of 2)


Click on photos to see larger image.

Today's route stats: 

    Distance:  8.0 miles

    Elevation Gain:  1000 feet

    Elevation Loss:  300 feet


We got up early again and began hiking by 7 AM.  We reached the Esplanade a little after 8 AM.  And from there the going was slower.  We wanted to get more than half way around Fishtail Mesa, just to be sure that we would make it back to camp at the end of the next day.  Water was much scarcer than I anticipated.  But the high temperature was probably in the low 60s, and except for the wind, great hiking weather for me.  This section of the Esplanade is not what I think of when I think of Esplanade hiking.  Almost all the time we were on mounds of Hermit Shale, not Esplanade Sandstone.  However there were notable exceptions.  There were endless canyon systems to cross, with deep gullies and lots of ups and downs.  Nothing like Esplanade hiking along the Thunder River Trail, below Great Thumb Mesa, or on the Tuckup Trail.  It was hard, uninspiring hiking.  We found enough water along the way, but just barely.  I'm sure we could have found some by hiking way down into the side canyons, but we didn't want to take the time. 

Esplanade Below Fishtail Mesa. Looking N from W side of Fishtail Mesa. Mount Sinyella (other side of Colorado).

At around 4 PM we decided to stop for the night.  Fishtail Canyon was below us.  We had rounded the end of Fishtail Mesa, and Fishtail saddle was visible in the distance.  Also visible was Monument Point, Steamboat Mountain, Powell Plateau, Great Thumb Mesa, and Mount Sinyella.  We found a nice place to camp and started looking for water.  After about 20 minutes we still had not found any.  We had passed some about an hour earlier, and considered sending two people back to collect a few gallons.  But first we decided to look a little harder.  I finally spotted what I thought were two potholes in the distance, on top of a huge mound of Esplanade Sandstone.  Ben took off to check it out as I directed him to it with hand gentures.  Luckily the potholes were quite large.

Snow on the Rims. Ben at a Pothole Near Camp. Fishtail Saddle in Distance.


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