Upper Dead Cow Canyon is not a real name. But it is an accurate one.
Joan and I backpacked in an area new to us and, other than rafters floating by its mouth, seldom seen.
Why Upper Dead Cow Canyon? Because beyond a small pour-off that requires a brief scramble to get up, we saw several dead cows in various states of decomposition.
Our theory is that the cows became stuck there over winter and could not make their way quickly to the lower canyon, where we spotted live cows in abundance.
Plus, “Upper Dead Cow Canyon” sounds convincing enough of a real name. And so the name stuck.
And what did “Upper Dead Cow Canyon” offer?
A walk along the said river to the canyon mouth:
And the usual evidence of people who came this way long before we walked here:
The canyon itself did not offer the red rock delights of our immediate home.
Instead, it had rock and coloring more reminiscent of areas around Mesa Verde or similar.
The canyon stream leads up along the floor and snakes its way through nooks and crannies with no footprints but ours.
Joan fell in love with groves of oak far down the canyon. Very different flora from our current home. And a cozy and comfortable place to make a night’s camp.
The hike out proved just as memorable. We saw signs of people who lived here in the recent past:
And, of course, at the usual places such as canyon junctions or where you might logically exit the canyon to the hunting areas above:
Upper Dead Cow Canyon offers solitude. And we suspect the neighboring canyons provide similar levels of backcountry obscurity.
I know we’ll return.