Our next stretch of the trail began with twenty seven miles, mainly cross country route finding, without any known good water sources. I carried eight liters of water, Goose carried ten. That meant about 20 pounds of water for each of us to carry in addition to our food and gear weight as we climbed up canyon cliffs and across huge plateaus with rolling hills and sandy washes. Even Shilo dog was complaining about her pack weight, but together we made our way across our route through the Red Ledge Cliffs, helping each other, once with the assistance of rope, up and down some of the more difficult terrain. After a long, challenging day we reached the edge of the plateau just after sunset where we camped under the stars and prepared for a sunrise start the following day.
As planned we were up and hiking with the first light of the day and found our route down into Fiddler's Canyon which led us to the Dirty Devil River. The river was flowing well, but even though we were low on water we could not drink from the Dirty Devil as it was the most silty we had seen and contained high levels of agricultural waste. Our resources had all indicated to avoid drinking from this river so we made do with the remaining water we had carried from the day prior.
We had to follow the river approx. 6 miles to a point where we would head up another canyon. When we reached the river intersection I turned left without checking the maps and together we headed down river. We bushwhacked across the riverbank and crossed the water when needed. After about an hour Goose stopped for a break and this is when he realized that we should have been heading up river, not down river. We were both stunned, upset and totally bummed. We put our packs back on, turned around and headed in the correct direction walking in silence.
Even with our detour we still managed to reach the end of the river section by mid day at which point we connected with a dirt road and were able to quickly recover our lost time and miles. The easy hiking and ability to "tune out" for awhile on a path rather than to constantly be route finding made for a fun evening and raised spirits. We made it to camp next to a great fresh water spring with empty water bottles and an hour of daylight left. It was a good day and we only had eight miles left to the end of the section and our first town stop in Hanksville Utah... burgers and milkshakes were in our near future, yay!