CJR Escalante Adventure 2005 – Day 13

Synopsis: Explore the high country across the river from camp. Help two young women find their way out of the canyon. Dayhiking; May 29. View Day 13 route map.

The plan on Day 13 was to cross the river, climb to the top of the huge cliff visible from camp, and then see where our nose led us. John led off, and Charles and I followed a half hour later after some long-distance scouting of the potential route. Part of our purpose was to determine if an overland route existed in that place — after topping the cliff, it looked on the map to be an easy walk to the highway, followed by a couple of miles of road walking. We could hike out on the Bowington Road, which continued up the cliffs on the south side of the river, but we would come out on the highway 5-10 miles from the truck.


Me crossing the river. I’m either in the process of losing or about to lose my balance, requiring a soggy lunge towards shore. This was the only time any of us screwed up a river crossing.

Photo by Charles Yeamans.
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Pouring the water out of my formerly dry boots.

Photo by Charles Yeamans.
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Charles crossing the river. He didn’t fall in, but he also didn’t toss his pack far enough and I had to scramble down and rescue it.

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After rescuing Charles’s pack, I turned and was very surprised to find two bewildered young women staring with wide eyes at us. It turned out they were Meagan and Linsey and they were trying to get out of the canyon. They had come down Sand Creek and planned to hike down the river to Highway 12, as we had. Sand Creek augmented the river flow by a third or more, further increasing the difficulty of travel. Meagan and Linsey had had one very difficult crossing below the confluence and that was quite enough, thank you. They had followed the trail downcanyon, discovered that it went right back across the river, and were following it upcanyon when they stumbled upon us. They were rather worried about how they might get out, and as it turned out what they wanted was exactly where we were going. We suggested they follow us.


Me, Meagan, and Linsey winding our way up the slickrock to the top of the large cliff.

Photo by Charles Yeamans.
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John blazed a route to the top, and we sat for a few minutes and took in the view, fabulous as usual.


Lower Sand Creek from the top of the cliff.

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Looking upstream along the Escalante River canyon. Our tent is visible: directly below the heavily shadowed cliff in the center of the photo, about halfway down to the cottonwoods along the river, is a tiny speck whose color is an unnatural shade of tan.

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L-R: Linsey, Charles, Reid, Meagan, John.

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I had a short route discussion with the young women, and we sent them on their way. I later received an email from Meagan, so I guess they made it out! :)

John, Charles, and I headed for a high point about 1,000 feet above the river, half again as far as we’d climbed already. We lunched on top and then descended, following a complex route through the minor drainages in the slickrock. Upon reaching the river, John decided to take a short float.


John preparing to jump in...

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...and he disappears around the bend. He didn’t go more than a few yards further; reportedly, it was very cold.

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We returned to camp to find that the wind had sprayed everything inside the tent with sand. Ick. However, the stormy weather had finally passed, and it was clear all day.


Looking southeast from a hill above camp. The large cliff we topped is visible in the upper left side of the photo.

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Looking south from the hill. The high point on the skyline is where we climbed to, and we made our way back to camp through the yellow sandstone hills in the middleground.

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Meagan and Linsey had told us of a large spring just inside the mouth of Sand Creek, and I resolved to attempt to reach it and fetch us some nice spring water. I took my frame pack and the 5-gallon water jug and climbed down to the bottom of the cliffs; 25 minutes of complicated, sweaty, brush bashing later, I found the spring. It was indeed impressive. Perhaps a liter of water every second flowed from the rock via several dozen dripping streams. I filled the jug and crashed back to camp. Charles was confused by the clear liquid.

Ramen noodles and scrambled eggs, by Charles and myself respectively, were dinner. The night was totally clear when we crawled into our bags, but sometime in the night it began to sprinkle, then stopped. Again, and again it stopped. The third time, I got sick of it and moved groggily into the tent. Charles followed. John, having lower tolerance for bugs, had slept most nights in the tent, but this was the only night during Part A that Charles and I partook.

Please continue reading on Day 14.

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