Escalante and the Waterpocket Fold
This was a good one. Trips this long are rare, so I tried to be conservative on overall trip mileage to ensure time for some side exploring, picture taking, and maybe a nap or two.
I’ll let route specifics be vague, though many won’t have any trouble figuring it out. Route creativity can be one of the more rewarding aspects of wilderness travel. Trying to find unpublished routes in and out of canyons, dealing with water problems with no beta, and having to wander around or turn around every once in a while makes things more fun.
I had never been through Halls Creek Narrows, and it was fantastic.
It was a chilly, breezy afternoon and I knew I might have some deep wading ahead. The scenery made the potential impending discomfort easy to ignore for a while.
There ended up being two armpit-deep wades in the early evening shadows, which made the last bit difficult to give its due appreciation. Dry socks and a few minutes of sun after exiting the narrows felt pretty heavenly.
I spent much of the second day wandering around the foot (and at times up the face) of the Fold, checking out canyons, springs, early flowers, and having one of the most enjoyable backpacking days I can remember.
I expected a bit of snow at the highest elevations, but it was a surprise here…
Wingate benches make the southern Escalante canyons mostly easy walking. You can definitely get into zen mode here…For the next couple days I’d find myself realizing I hadn’t paid attention to a single step for unknown amounts of time…
I had two sections of river walking planned for the trip. I wavered on bringing a packraft for the trip, but ultimately I decided it wasn’t worth it for the short distances it’d be used. I’ve heard people basically say that the Escalante below Scorpion is the worst desert river walking there is, but I found it to be much less painful than further north. There’s significantly less veg than up north and I only crossed three times in 7ish miles. I’ll take crawling over boulders to crawling though willows any day.
I followed mountain lion tracks the entire way…
River walking still isn’t much fun and I was excited to head up and out…
I don’t think I saw a dry pothole on the east side of the river…the west side was a different story…
After a hours of bone dry unobstructed slickrock walking, a short decent into another canyon revealed the awesome contrast of the Colorado Plateau.
I wasn’t sure if the canyon I was hoping to exit was going to slot up so I got out when I could. Despite looking flat and contourless on a topo (I knew better), the rest of the day was to be most difficult section of the trip. Trying to strike a balance between minimizing ups and downs and still trying to travel in a relatively straight line was particularly difficult here. Where it’s not rock, it’s deep sand. Crossing some slots added to the fun, as did carrying enough water for a dry camp (although of course I found some of the deepest potholes of the trip along the way).
My legs were shot early so I found camp. I opted for views over a flat camp.
Walls in Scorpion Gulch…
A bit more Escalante, upriver this time..
…and up Moody. I sat here and watched a Peregrine for a while.
I wasn’t sure how this section was going to go. After entering the Chinle (and cattle), I backtracked a bit and filled up with enough water to get back to Halls Creek the next morning. The cedar mesa inner gorge was a nice surprise, although I wasn’t quite sure if I should be in the bottom or on top.
After carrying the most water I had all trip, I found a clear running stream from a side canyon right when it was time to make camp. So it goes.
Looking for the path of least resistance below the Circle Cliffs…
Back at the foot of the Fold…
Patagonia merino 1 short sleeve – I took the old (’09?) version and it’s much, much better than the new. Thinner, softer, more breathable…
Patagonia Long Hauler running shorts- worked
Patagonia sol patrol pants – I think I might have finally killed them. They’ve had lots of repairs, but there’s not much left below the shins and I ripped the inseam up past the knee.
Defeet Wooleator x2 -Got a couple holes, but full days of wet, sandy feet will kill any sock
Inov8 Trailroc 245 – Meh…Wore some holes in the uppers and the slickrock did a number on the tread. I’m not sold on the fit, either. It’s fine for general walking, but I think I actually prefer the more narrow Inov-8s for scrambling or tricky footing.
Dirty Girls- worked
modded BD Alpine Carbon Corks – carried them a lot, but I was glad to have them in a couple sections
Aut’s pink Houdini – worked (sorry no pics)
MYOG down jacket -worked
merino buff -worked
OR PL base gloves – worked
Cap 2 bottoms – worked
no shelter- my favorite shelter
MYOG down quilt -worked
Exped Synmat UL- opted for the plush pad for lots of slickrock camps
Tyvek groundsheet- worked
MYOG Pack- performed brilliantly
Snow Peak litemax ti – instant coffee gratification in bed in the morning
evernew .9 – worked
spoon/plastic eating container – worked
2L platy x2 – worked
3L platy w/ hose- worked
steripen+ some micropur tablets – Rechargeables in the Opti lasted all week.
Zebralight H51 – best light I’ve used
maps/compass/garmin etrex 20-worked.
10m 3/4″ webbing-worked. Easier to handle than thinner stuff
Sigma DP2 Merrill- In love so far
I ended up hiking for about six days and total mileage was about 120 not including side exploring (or naps).