Backpacking in the canyon

Written by karen on April 13th, 2017

The canyon behind our house is a part of a large area of national forest that goes from north of the national monument to south of Rucker Canyon (about 15 miles north of Douglas). We’ve always wanted to do a backpacking trip in the forest that ended at our house, and this weekend we did.

On Friday night, we camped at the Sunny Flat campground a few miles from Portal. Then early Saturday, we set out toward Horseshoe Canyon.

Here are the overall stats for the hike:

Overall distance: 21.6 miles (8.6 on Saturday, 13 on Sunday)

Starting elevation: 5079 ft

Highest elevation: 7220 ft

Final elevation: 4300 ft

Overall, it was a harder hike than we had anticipated. There was a good amount of elevation change, but the real challenge was the trail or lack thereof. Much of the trail had been washed away by Hurricane Odile and consisted of stream beds with large boulders strewn everywhere and large downed trees. In many cases, we ended up walking twice as far as would normally be required in order to avoid obstacles. Climbing over and around boulders and trees added difficulty as well. I was glad we had a GPS because I’m not sure we could have reliably found the way otherwise.

typical “trail”

This was also a trial run for overnight backpacking and our equipment for the upcoming Grand Canyon trip. On that front, all went well.

It was fun to end up at our house, though by the end of Sunday, we were super tired.

We are planning to do another backpacking trip soon, but probably won’t do this one again. Maybe next time will be from Rucker Canyon to our house.


2 Comments so far ↓

  1. Naming things is a very human enterprise. You live in/near Portal. It makes me wonder who viewed it as the portal to something/somewhere else.

    I envy your hike into Horseshoe Canyon and wish my knees were up to such a thing. Of course, I can also wonder if the canyon was named for its shape or for the loss of a horseshoe from the horse of an early explorer.

    Such are the meanderings of my marginally mature mind.

    Thanks for your comments at my blog, as always.

    That spring garlic is making my mouth water. I’ve only ever worked with the stuff in papery-skinned clumps.

  2. karen says:

    There’s a local history book called “Portal to Paradise.” (Paradise is another even smaller town here.

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