09-Nov-2003 -- The Confluence Project led us to a very nice place.
We began with an attempt on October 10, driving to the end of the road on Blackbrush Flat at 36.96443N and 110.94103W. From there we found an obscure trail down to Aztec Creek 1500 ft below. This trail is an old Navajo stock trail that has had hundreds of steps cut into the slickrock so animals can graze Aztec Creek. From there, we followed Aztec Creek down to 36.96451N/110.98697W, where one of us suffered a pulled muscle after stepping in quicksand, which required a long and painful hike back to the car.
We returned on November 8, backpacking down to the creek planning to stay two nights, and then setting out early Nov 9 for the confluence. The confluence is about 400’ above the west side of Aztec Creek, in the slickrock at the base of the cliffs (Navajo formation) beneath Cummings Mesa. After hours of scrambling up slickrock knobs, we finally got to within 110 m south of the confluence, only to be stopped by a steep pitch of very crumbly sandstone. Several attempts to scale this rock failed as we peeled off and slid down, leaving skin on the rock. Looking for other routes, I noticed a narrow ledge heading north, which ended at 78 m. from the confluence. We wanted to zero this one, but it seems impossible. Picture 1 looks north; the ledge is visible on the center left and the confluence is on the point of the next sandstone knob, at the upper extent of an enormous sandstone fin with very steep walls that extends up from the creek. Picture 2 looks East across Aztec Creek to the west slopes of Navajo Mt. Picture 3 looks south along the cliff line defining Cummings Mesa. Picture 4 looks WNW (a true west photo would only show the impossible rock slab) to a point on Cummings Mesa. Picture 5 is the GPS screen shot.
We returned to camp 3 hrs later, spent the night in the rain, and hiked out to the car the next day, finding snow on Navajo Mt.
This is such a pretty place! Picture 6 is Aztec Creek with cottonwoods in autumn colors; #7 is a detail of the leaves and the sandstone. Picture 8 shows the slickrock in the rain, an unusual perspective of this normally dry country. Pictures 9 and 10 are of the Aztec Creek basin with Cummings Mesa in the background.
Lovely country. Sweet little creek, even though cattle have chewed the riparian area. The cottonwoods are struggling with old age, and there are no new cottonwood shoots to replace them. Nice hike! It’s worth visiting this area just to be there. Aztec Creek continues into Forbidding Canyon where it flows into Glen Canyon Reservoir (aka Lake Powell). Boaters who have been to Rainbow Bridge may remember entering Bridge Canyon and then swinging left to get to Rainbow Bridge; continuing straight will allow your boat to reach the Aztec Creek. We decided not to attempt this confluence from the lake because of the distance and difficulty of that route.