March 12, 2013

Sams Mesa Box Canyon

For a good while now I've been eyeing the map with the hopes of making a non-technical 5 day backpacking loop trip, out of two canyons that are popular among canyoneers for technical challenge. We lucked out by having a spell of days in the upper 60's during spring break so we gassed up and rolled south where we had 4 days of sunny solitude.

The proposed route would loop Sams Mesa Box with Twin Corral Box Canyons; beginning and ending on the east side of the Dirty Devil. My proposed route had one entry into Sams Mesa Box Canyon that gave me considerable doubt, due to the fact that it's in a Kelsey book, and that it's named a "box" canyon. It's also a popular exit route for canyoneers after completing the technical part of SMBC, who obviously have a greater adventure-meter tolerance than I do. I decided it was necessary to go check it out, on a day hike, to see if our adventure-meter was going to hack it.
We parked a few miles off the Maze road and walked about 3 miles across Twin Corral Flats. With some fun map reading we made the entry where we found the constructed cow trail that leads down. The ol' cowpokes must've been pretty thirsty (and skinny) to have been driven to build this trail through the Navajo Sandstone. Once onto the Kayenta ledges we traversed around to where the route goes down through the Wingate Sandstone. We stood on the Kayenta ledges and looked down at the last couple hundred feet of vertical and decided against it, at least for us, with heavy backpacks. It was tempting though, and probably doable, but not under the circumstances. Nothing very technical, but the exposure was intimidating. The consequences were bad news if a mistake was made, a little shelf of rock broken off, a bit of a slip on some lichen, etc. I suppose it's age old, but the older I get, the easier it is for me to bag my ego, in favor of not busting my ass! Anyway, here's a few pics, some recognizable from the Kelsey book.

One of my favorite places in Utah; the turn off to the Maze

Crossing Twin Corral Flats

the adventure-meter fizzling out

wonderful slickrock hiking

the last pitch down the Wingate

somewhere down there is a 18" gap we needa find
constructed "trail" / 18" gap
first t-shirt weather of the year!

Ass un-broken, we celebrate w/dinner, whiskey, campfire and stars

Learning that the route would probably not happen, as a backpack trip, we decided not to go check the entry/exit for Twin Corral Box Canyon as we originally intended. That decision left us a free day to wander aimlessly so we continued out towards Sams Mesa for a look into Happy Canyon.


  1. Need a pretty big camera for all that view!

    Thanks Micky.

    All the best,
    Jeff S

  2. Man, just like being at sea; wide open spaces with not too many objectional objects blocking the view. You guys are sure kick'n' butt with your lives. Keep it up, Skip