CJR Escalante Adventure 2005 – Day 14

Synopsis: Hike from Camp VI to the end of Part A via an overland bypass. Drive to The Gulch trailhead and begin Part B by hiking in to meet the Mountaineers at Camp VIII. Backpacking; May 30. View Day 14 route maps.

It was rather windy as we packed up camp. We hiked down to the river and crossed a little ways downstream of where we had been crossing, at a spot John had found that was a little easier. We climbed to the top of the cliff and then struck out west-southwest, toward Highway 12. The terrain was quite a bit more complex than the map suggested, but it was an easy walk to the highway, which we then followed for a mile and a half back down to the river. It took us about three hours to walk out.

This was the day we were scheduled to meet up with the Los Alamos Mountaineers, including my dad Bill, who was leading the trip, and Charles’s mom Marilyn. As we expected, there was a note on the truck’s windshield; or rather two notes, one from my dad which very clearly gave the new meeting spot and one from the llama packer which said only to call for more information. We decided to drive up to Sand Creek and fetch the van, then drive into Boulder and call the packer. (The original plan had been to continue down the Escalante River to meet the Mountaineers at Boulder Creek, but due to “extreme water conditions”, they changed their itinerary.)

In Boulder, we stopped for ice cream and gas, and used a pay phone to call the packer. She (very verbosely) confirmed my dad’s note. We were to meet him at a particular side canyon four or five miles down The Gulch, which was a short drive east from Boulder on the Burr Trail. She also said, to our disappointment (we were sick of hiking in sandals), that frequent wading was required.

We finished the drivearound, repacked our packs (fresh clothes and food were waiting in the car), and hiked in.


Repacking our packs at The Gulch trailhead.

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One of the frequent crossings of the stream in The Gulch.

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The hike down The Gulch was easy, pleasant, and fast. There were indeed numerous stream crossings, but the stream was small enough that we were always able to find a place to jump it. We never had to change out of our boots, though I did land short for one jump and got water in one of my boots. After two and a half hours of hiking, we topped a rise and dropped into the side canyon. We ran into some appropriately nerdy-looking folks relaxing in camp chairs a few hundred yards up.

There were two LAMC trips camping in the canyon, each with a dozen folks (mostly aging baby boomers). Both had had their gear packed in by llamas. It turned out that the first party we ran into was the other group (the one not including my dad and Marilyn), but after a little explanation they remembered something about us and pointed the way upcanyon. Around the next bend was another camp, and two chairs were occupied by Mark and Jackie. They welcomed us after initial bewilderment, and we settled in to set up Camp VIII.

Five minutes later, the rest of the Mountaineers rolled into camp. My dad was (of course) very pleased to see me, and greatly relieved to see that we’d found the place OK. (I thought this was a little odd as the directions in his note were spot on, and the packer eventually gave a clear picture as well.)


Me and my dad in Camp VIII. The matching shirts were total coincidence.

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John and Charles drinking red wine.

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A goodly portion of the second LAMC group came to visit us before supper. L-R: Me, Charles, John, Caroline Scudder*, ???* (in hat), Elizabeth Kelly, Kathleen, ???* (obscured), Geoff Reeves* (white brim hat), Dave Scudder* (baseball hat), Jackie, Kim Scudder*, ???* (green jacket), ???* (glasses), Karen, ???*, ???* (tall man), ???*, Jeri, Lynne, Dave, Mark. (LAMC people in the second group marked with a star.) That’s my tent in the background.

Photo by Bill Priedhorsky.
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Charles cooked enchiladas for us. They were fabulous, especially with the addition of a little leftover steak from the llama people’s dinner the previous night. The llama people had tons of food, and they tried vigorously to convince us to not cook (two planned-for people were missing), and simply partake in their own food (green chile chicken stew, if I recall correctly), but their efforts were unsuccessful. We hauled our own food in and we were going to cook it, and besides (IMO) the enchiladas were better than the stew anyway.

That’s about it for the day. My dad read some chapters out of Hayduke Lives, and we retired to our bags. It was kind of buggy, so all three of us slept in the tent. See you tomorrow!

Please continue reading on Day 15.

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