Escalante Adventure 1996

I found this trip report in old email in January of 2006. This was a trip to the Escalante River country that I took with the Boy Scouts in 1996. Specifically, we went into Death Hollow via the Boulder Mail Trail and went down Death Hollow to the Escalante River. We then followed the river downstream past Highway 12 to Boulder Creek, where we went up and out Deer Creek to the car-park on the Burr Trail.

This report is verbatim from my journal notes that I took while on-trail. Comments in brackets were added upon my return to civilization. I put them in when I emailed the report to my friend Sarah Otjen. Everything that was in the email is here, with a few minor cuts that I felt weren’t appropriate for a public forum.

I returned to the same region nine years later; the trip report for that trip is also on this site, and that one has maps and pictures.


Day 2 / Sunday, May 26

Yesterday drove for 11:50; very long but it rained on and off [and was cloudy] all day so luckily it wasn’t very hot. Supper late b/c stoves not working properly. Bean goop. [Will did not eat it.] Lunch at Taco Bell in Farmington. Order #69. Sleeping bag still slightly wet but warm. Night very cold. Sleeping bag wet in morning; frozen to inside of tent. [Tented with James b/c of fear of rain. None.] Pancakes for breakfast; very slow b/c of more stove trouble. Started hiking 9:45 or so. Hike to camp seemed short; 5 miles or so. Awesome view of Death Hollow. Arrived in camp 1:00. Ate lunch (tortillas, PB, honey, sausage). Short hike 1 mi. upcanyon in afternoon; very pretty. Saw [orange, iron-tasting] artesian spring which was very cool. Wading necessary in places for progress. Supper pretty good. Potato cheese goop w/ bacon bits and jerky. [Will did not eat it.] Finished by 7:00. Two people crapped in full view of camp. Canyon smells good. Have never smelled this before. Sort of minty and spicy. Groundcloth inadequate for rain. Pine trees occasionally which are exceptionally tall. 7:43 pm. People are reading and talking and going to bed. Hope it does not rain. Dishwashers lazy. Jets annoying all day. Hike into D. H. very steep. Sleeping bag finally dry. Sound of creek very pleasing. Teva clones cheap. Straps expanded 2 in. Tomorrow will be difficult and wet. Pack still too heavy.

Day 3 / Monday, May 27

Left camp 9:30 am. Slept well. Adam farted a lot. Oatmeal for breakfast. Too much; had to pack out about 1/2 can. Hiked all day in Tevas. Easier than expected but still painful. [Walking stick indispensable.] Pack heavy but mind off b/c of painful feet. Straps way too long; repaired [this evening] with sewing kit and duct tape.

Lunch at Mamie Creek. Same as yesterday. Not enough condiments. Hiked through Lower Narrows after lunch. Nice but not as impressive as some I have seen. Water waist deep at max.

Camp at Emerald Pool Alcove. Pool slimy and brown. Nice flat sandy campsite. Tilted rock wall good for scrambling. Pasta Alfredo for supper. Excellent. Actually eaten by Will.

Poison ivy all over near camp. Everyone into it except adults. Some rain but in alcove so not wet. Play with rope on slope. Scary but fun.

8:13 am now. Some scrambling around, some sleeping, some reading. Quiet and peaceful except for occasional jets. Beautiful canyon. Slight bits of allergies. Adam still gassy. Stream fun to hike in. Usually wide and sandy or rocky. Similar to Halls Creek. Experimented with two-rock dry-foot stream crossing. Cricket resident here. Clearing some now. [Smell from yesterday Garth’s citronella sunscreen.]

Day 4 / May 28

Amazing bats last night. Half a dozen. Beautiful. Wonderfully peaceful night before bed. Very sublime experience.

Oatmeal for breakfast. Turned blue again from iodine when washing. Left camp 9:00, very cold wading. Hiking in Tevas sucks. Never again. Water very cold.

Escalante River pitifully small and soapy. Wading downstream difficult and uncomfortable from rocks in Tevas. Found hanging slot canyon but unable to reach. Lunch in large ampitheater with sandy beach. Same as before. Camp 1/2 mile downstream in cool little alcove 1:30-ish.

Hike up small side canyon. Several pools which some swam in. Climbed up onto large hill. Awesome view. Garth climbed twice b/c of forgotten daypack. Two promising canyons but no slots. Followed old trail for awhile, then some followed back to camp and some deviated into Sand Creek. Large red cliffs but clever routefinding and down. Very brushy. Managed to stay until confluence. Ran across group from Taos. Went through nasty rose thicket. Painful. Back to camp 7:00 pm. Four Cheese Pasta for dinner. Animal noises in forest thickets around camp. Beautiful. Fearless fish in stream near camp. Will watch you fill water bottle. Jets annoying all day. 9:20 now. Everyone in bed. “Shut up, you’re dumb” and “Butter Crisco Grease” sayings of the day.

Day 5 / May 29

Rose early, 6:20 am. Breakfast of oatmeal. Left camp 7:50. Hiked through forests and thickets full of birds. Beautiful rocks and many campsites. Arrived at highway 10:00. Gross. Hung around for an hour while others reduced weight. Some tactics absurd (cutting handle off toothbrush). Cached [two garbage bags worth of] stuff and trash at highway.

Hiked through private land to lunch at 1 pm. Through burned area, 10 minutes to get through. Very hot to lunch. Pemmican bars and fruit. Last of jerky.

After lunch Greg very slow. Group broken into two. Escalante flowing much more, almost large enough to tube. Very beautiful cliffs. Passed large alcove. Bat guano inside, also bizarre little figurine of painted rocks. Mormon pioneer made? Hot and long.

To confluence of Boulder Creek 3 pm. B. Creek very large flow, 3/4 as much as Escalante. Up B. Creek, very long and tiring. Into rather grungy camp 5 pm, later across river to slightly better site. Flat rocks. Cleaned water filter, vastly improved flow. Greg and father into camp 6:50 pm, said slowness was due to cold medicine. Chili potatoes for supper. OK. Sparse crickets about. Feet painful. Large blister on bottom of right pinky toe. Very beautiful canyon. Moon getting fuller. Covered 14 miles today. Very tiring. Hardest one day I can remember. 10:00 pm. Everyone in bed. Warmer than previous night. Hint of rain overhead, hope it does not. Inadequate covering. Will sleep in tomorrow.

Day 6 / May 30

Woke up 8:20 am b/c sun on bags. Very annoying. Soaked head, felt much better. Mashed potatoes for breakfast. Very good. Cooked under tarp cleverly rigged to get out of sun. Left 11:00 on dayhike. Went upstream a bit and went through narrows. Some swimming required. Very cold. Climbed into minor drainage with many potholes full of water. Lunch on top of minor mound. Very windy. Granola bars and dried fruit. Bland. Awesome landscape. Crosscountry more, then back to camp. Climbed down rock face slope into camp. Dinner 5:15, beef stroganoff. Excellent. Conversation amazingly foolish [entire trip]. Major subjects this trip: crapping, [farting, pissing,] and masturbation. Brownies very good. Moon almost full, very beautiful.

9:26 pm. All in bed, some talking, some reading. No poison ivy reactions yet, am hopeful. Hope for no rain.

Day 7 / May 31

Woke up 7:00 am. Oatmeal for breakfast. Greg broke Adam’s stick, Adam broke Greg’s stick. Greg lost temper. Disaster. Long breakfast. Climbed slope across from camp, all up 9:40. Hiked back along dayhike route form yesterday. Greg slow, separated with Mr. Scudder. Wild goose chase for 2 hours. Lunch on top of rock. Bland. Hike continued across upper world. Very long and hot. Break for swim in pothole. Very refreshing. Down large open slope into drainage, 10 foot drop off into Deer Creek. Climb down tree. Garth falls, very lucky to be unhurt except for bruised butt. Wade upstream to very brushy alcove campsite. Garlic Herb pasta for supper. Good. Greg laughed while drinking, almost chocked/barfed. Gross.

9:30 pm. Tension down from day. Cabin fever setting in, arguments boiling all day. All in bed, some talking.

Day 8 / June 1

Woke up just before sun. Breakfast of oatmeal, again. Beginning to get old. Out of camp 9:30, hike upstream. Very brushy, difficult going. Terrible. [Allergies hideous.] Climbed out of canyon via nasty, loose, dangerous slope. Lunch on top. Granola bars. Yuk. Hike along top. Much cryptogramic soil. Hot. Roundabout going due to side drainages [and cliffs]. Back into canyon, grassy with cliffs. Very pretty. Out into grungy dirt parking lot. Car shuttle, meet up in Boulder [at Conoco station] and drive. Camp on flat slickrock at Soldier’s Grave overlooking White Canyon. Moon rose blood red over mesa, full. Awesome. Enchilada dinner. Edible with Velveeta, much better with real cheese. Some playing with burning gasoline on rocks.

9:45 pm. All in bed, some talking despite Mr. Scudder’s instructions to the contrary. Amazing feeling sleeping in such open area under clear sky. Early start tomorrow.

Day 9 (the last day) / June 2

Woke up 6:00 am, quick packing and breakfast of mashed potatoes and gravy. Not bad. On road before 7:00. Drove south, gas in Bluff and lunch at Pizza Hut in Farmington. 3 larges insufficient for two Scoutmasters and six Scouts. Arrived home 3:30 pm, showered, etc. Good to be back. [No poison ivy reactions for anyone.]

General impressions of trip

Too much food, actually brought an extra dinner and about twice as much breakfast for each meal as necessary. Oatmeal can get old. Way too much dried fruit. Last four lunches very bland and dull.

Conversation foolish entire trip.

Awesome and fantastic country. Must be protected.

[Note 2/11/2006: I trimmed a paragraph here where I said exactly who I thought was a jerk, and why, and who wasn’t. I didn’t think it was necessary to air my high-school thoughts on such matters publically a decade later.]

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