Friday & Saturday, April 18-19, 2014
Since I have a three night backpacking trip coming up at the beginning of May and I never did get out on a backpacking trip last year, I wanted to get in a quick overnight trip this month. I have also wanted to camp in the backcountry of the Colorado National Monument and hike the full length of No Thoroughfare Canyon. I decided to take care of all three of these goals with an overnight backpacking trip through No Thoroughfare Canyon with my friend Jackson. We had a hard time figuring out a good night for this trip where our schedules matched up, and in the end it worked out best for us to leave after work on Friday and get off the trail on Saturday afternoon. I headed up to the Visitor’s Center on Thursday afternoon during my lunch break to get a backcountry permit for our trip. It was my first time getting one of those permits and the process was quick and easy. On Friday we watched the weather forecast all day hoping for an improvement, but it pretty much remained the same with a 50% chance of rain overnight and into Saturday morning. We decided to deal with the possibly of rain and went anyways. We left after work on Friday and parked my Jeep at the Devil’s Kitchen Picnic Area. Diane was nice enough to drive us up to the upper trailhead near Glade Park to drop us off so we wouldn’t have to worry about picking up a vehicle the next day.
We ended up hiking about 3 miles down the upper canyon before finding a spot to camp for the night. There were a lot of clouds this evening but there were enough openings to allow some blue sky and sunlight through on occasion. While the trail down from the rim into the canyon is maintained by the park and there is a decent primitive trail to follow most of the way, there were a few sections where it was hard to follow and we had to bushwhack through some thick vegetation.
Starting our hike from the upper trailhead along Little Park Road.
Following the trail down into the upper canyon.
Most of the day was overcast, but we did get a little blue sky during our evening hike.
Jackson coming down the trail.
The well-constructed trail into the canyon.
Jackson hikes through the ample scrub oak in the upper section of the canyon.
After the scrub oak came the thick sagebrush to meander through.
A nice view up another upper branch of No Thoroughfare Canyon.
The Grand Mesa and Chalk Mountain come into view in the distance. We also got a glimpse of Mount Garfield a few times, too.
The last sunlight we would see for the rest of the trip…
Setting up camp for the night under the overcast sky.
After dinner and waiting for darkness to arrive we went to sleep early. I woke up around 1:00am when it started to rain, and it wouldn’t stop raining until we were back at my Jeep around 11:00am. We got up after the sun had come up behind the clouds and the rain was not too heavy. We quickly ate breakfast and took down camp while trying not to get everything too wet. Then we set off to finish the rest of the hike. Since it was raining pretty good when we left camp, I put my camera in my backpack with the rain cover on, so the next two photos were taken with my phone.
Jackson hiking in the rain as we left camp.
The canyon ahead…
The rain eventually let up enough that I was comfortable taking my camera out again. Shortly after leaving camp the trail pretty much disappeared. I knew we had to stay high above the wash for a bit, so we spent some time finding our way across washes, through trees and around boulders.
We started the steep and loose descent into the precambrian rock just past the Second Waterfall. There was a bit of scrambling, but nothing too difficult.
We hiked back up the canyon a short distance to check out the Second Waterfall.
Then we continued back down the canyon. I liked the stripes in these rocks.
Once we reached the bottom of the Second Waterfall the trail would continue to get better all the way back to the trailhead. This is the furthest most people hike up from the bottom.
Following the trail down to the bottom of the First Waterfall.
Looking down on the First Waterfall from the trail.
The first sign we had seen since we left the upper trailhead. The trail would be easy from here!
There were a lot of vibrant green leaves on the trees in this section of the canyon, which contrasts nicely with the black rock.
Low clouds hug the sandstone cliffs.
Following the stairs down to the bottom of the First Pool.
There’s a small waterfall into the pool.
I’ve seen plenty of white Evening Primrose this year, but this was the first pink one.
Jackson checking out some birds in the distance.
Just past Devil’s Kitchen…almost back to the trailhead.
I had to make a quick stop at Lower No Thoroughfare Arch.
The last stretch of trail back to the parking lot.
Even though the weather didn’t cooperate with us on this trip, we both had a great time. It’s great having a place like this practically in my backyard and I know I will be returning again in the future!