Dec 28, 2019 at 8:05 pm #3624609
It looks like Lost Canyon has the best chance of a water source. Anybody know if campsite #2 or #3 is preferred for a mid May trip? I read one story where someone reached LC3 in April, and had to backtrack 1 mile for water.
Close access to water is a major criteria, but I am leaning toward LC3 because it is closer to some dayhike loops. Is either LC3 or LC2 way more scenic than the other?
What are the chances of finding water in Squaw Canyon? Good enough to reserve a campsite there?
If you were going to carry water, where would you want to camp?
I am quite familiar with Salt Creek, looking for new territory.Dec 28, 2019 at 8:18 pm #3624610Russ WBPL Member
@gatome83Locale: Southeastern US
I did a loop day hike of about 13 miles in the canyonlands Needle area about 4 years ago, in March. I remember checking out the designated camp sites as if I were overnighting. All was dry for most of the hike and there was a trickle that you could potentially tease water from…but not close to the designated camp sites, and not particularly appetizing. Can’t speak to the rest but if it were me I would pack water.
I know I’m not being specific but I hope this helps.Dec 29, 2019 at 7:31 pm #3624751
Went through Lost 5/6/19. There was and seems like always is water over in Squaw. Water appeared and disappeared throughout Lost in typical Needles stream-bed fashion. There are several large permanent pond waterholes between LC2 and LC1; in no case as much as a mile, but at least a half mile for the ponds. I think the campsites are located at a remove from the permanent waterholes so the wildlife has relatively undisturbed access to water There is also a waterhole a ways from LC3 towards LC2 and hopefully transient surface water nearby. It just depends on the winter-spring precip how often it surfaces and remains. Last year was wet, 2018 VERY dry. Likely to be some suspended stuff in the water so bring a robust, cleanable, reliable filter. You may just need to plan on taking a little 10-12 minute walk to water but danged if I’d pack it.
Have you been over the transition from Squaw to Elephant Canyon and up to Druid Arch? From Elephant to Chesler Park and then through the caves/cracks from Chesler Park to Chesler Canyon? There is an extensive cave/crack/tunnel system in this area. Almost like spelunking and nice and cool on a hot day. If you go up Chesler Canyon you can go through a huge tunnel/crack/cave and peep into Virginia Park which is off-limits? Lots of fun, really scenic and interesting trails all around. PM if you want any details.Dec 29, 2019 at 8:51 pm #3624774
Thanks! That is exactly what I need to know. And more!
Do you know if they are still requiring poop bags in Chesler and Elephant? I saw some mention of it as a trial, but don’t see it as a requirement now.Dec 29, 2019 at 10:01 pm #3624783
I am continuing to search for water in the Needles District desert. I see some references to water just below Elephant Canyon 3 campsite. But, it seems maybe just in the winter, after a rain?Dec 30, 2019 at 1:21 am #3624794
There’s a Big waterhole in the canyon that forks east (SE) between EC2 and EC3. Its the canyon that the trail from Squaw comes down. It’s about 1/3 mile from EC3 and about the same from EC2. That cross-over from Squaw to Elephant is another fun one. Didn’t you say you’re going in May? Unless it’s a REALLY dry winter there’ll be water in May. Was that trip report from Spring of 2018? That was the driest winter in a long time.Dec 30, 2019 at 4:18 am #3624816nunatak down gearBPL Member
Research is good, of course, but around here you basically never know until you set foot in the canyons. There’s always conditions: ‘if it was a wet winter’, ‘if it rained previously’, ‘if the cows didn’t ruin it’,
Once we found a dead duck in a reliable artesian spring, another time abundant rainwater pot holes dried up before we got to camp.
Plan for trouble and never leave a source without everything filled; or cook a meal right there regardless of time of day.Dec 30, 2019 at 12:32 pm #3624839
Thank you, OBX. I think the possibility of water near EC3 has changed my plans. The photos of the trail leading to Druid Arch are very compelling.
Yes, that is very good advice @roamer, use water when you find it. If you find it.
A further scrutiny of the Canyonlands website reveals that as of Oct 2019 hikers staying at designated campsites in the Needles District are required to carry out their poop.Dec 30, 2019 at 3:15 pm #3624851Ralph BurgessBPL Member
I think the water up the canyon near EC2/3 is reliable in springtime, it has been good the 4 or 5 years that I’ve visited, including late April of the bone dry 2018. But I have never been there later than early May. There are some deep pools, so it’s unlikely to be gone completely, but perhaps it might not be fresh and sparkly by mid-May in a dry year. In any event, it’s not a life-threatening risk when you’re a few miles hike from the trailhead. I would definitely be confident enough in the EC water that I’d hike in with only enough to get me out again if I had to turn around and hike straight back out, expecting a very low probability of having to do that.
So far as I know you still have to use poop bags, and for good reason – the only place you could bury would involve destroying cryptobiotic soil crust, and that’s something they are working hard to preserve. Even if that wasn’t an issue, it’s a pretty small and well used area that’s easily accessible to many inexperienced hikers, it would get nasty pretty fast.
If you are planning to leave food at the EC campsites while dayhiking, I’d recommend taking in a bear canister or mesh bag, or even a cheap plastic bucket. There’s no concern about actual bears in the Needles, but it’s the only place where I’ve encountered small critters (I’m not sure what) that were smart enough to go out on a branch and chew through Dyneema cord that was holding up my food hang, to drop the food bag to the ground.Dec 30, 2019 at 5:44 pm #3624862
Thank you for your help, Ralph. I have also read there is a chance of water up Elephant canyon toward Druid Arch. I guess I would look there first if the pool were dry.
Squaw sounds like it will have water later than Elephant, and Lost even later than that.
So far it is looking like a wet winter here in coastal California.Dec 30, 2019 at 6:20 pm #3624867Ralph BurgessBPL Member
If camp at the LC sites, I vaguely remember that maybe one of them is marked in the wrong place on the Nat Geo map. Sorry I can’t be more specific, I can’t remember which one. It’s not hard to find, just forget the map, and look out for the signpost.
And yes, there has been water up toward Druid Arch every time I’ve been there, but it’s further away from the EC sites.Dec 30, 2019 at 7:11 pm #3624921
What Ralph said about water on multiple hikes to Druid. The furthest you get from a trailhead is either Druid or Peekaboo. Absent hauling a pack it’s about 4-5 hours out to Squaw Flats or Elephant Hill TH and you could hardly hike more than an hour or so without meeting up with someone? You want to be confident of your sources for convenience and a pleasant trip and not get dehydrated or have some lack of water issue but if you have a serious/dangerous problem it’s most likely not going to be water or the lack thereof. Which BTW reminds me of a good read about the current area very generally speaking: The Secret Knowledge of Water by Craig Childs
Not surprised to hear about the wag bag rule. The concentration of impact is complicated or exacerbated by the all sorts of factors
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