CJR Escalante Adventure 2005 – Day 17

Synopsis: Explore near The Gulch. Dayhiking; June 2. View Day 17 route map.


Morning on Day 17.

Photo by Bill Priedhorsky.
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The mosquitoes were pretty bad in the morning. We straggled one-by-one out of camp, regrouped at the crack, and then headed north around a large mesa. The goal was to explore this large slickrock area, hundreds of acres with almost no soil, only rock, and perhaps climb one of the buttes we could see on the map. We made our way north over a wide valley, slogging up and over each ridge dividing minor drainages.


Descending a small cliff.

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When it came into view, we decided to head for the butte on the skyline. The near side looks quite improbable, but we hoped that the far side might hold a way up. I rated our chances as “slim” having been burned the previous day, I dropped the “to none”.

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John approaching the butte.

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John and several other folks who were in the lead took a direct line straight up the near side of the butte, hoping to find a way around to the far side just below the steep terminal cliffs. However, there was no traverse route to be had, and I was able to capitalize on their misfortune. I had decided to skirt around at the base. The far side wasn’t as steep, and I was able to put together a Class 3+ route to the top. The views on top were amazing, perhaps the best viewpoint of the whole trip. I walked over the flat shale that formed the top of the butte and yelled over the edge at my dad and Kathleen twenty or thirty feet below.

The leaders had to backtrack almost all the way to the base before they were able to skirt around. Eventually, we were all on top except for John, who (perhaps wisely) elected to take a nap instead.


Looking back down the ascent route from the top of the butte. Clockwise from left: Bill, Elizabeth Kelly, Kathleen, Jackie, Marilyn, Charles.

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Lynne topping the butte with Kathleen’s help. On the skyline is the Aquarius Plateau.

Photo by Charles Yeamans.
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The summit team having lunch. Back row, L-R: Charles, Reid, Kathleen, Jackie (in blue), Karen (in red), Bill. Front row: Mark, Lynne, Elizabeth Kelly, Marilyn.

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We descended, found John, and headed down the small wash on the north side of the butte towards Deer Creek. John split off and headed back to camp.


A toad we found about halfway up the butte. We were baffled by the apparent distance to water.

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Descending the butte. The route to the top led up near the left skyline. This is a view of the butte from the west; previous views were from the south.

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Stripping down for a quick dip in Black Bart’s Pool.

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Charles with Black Bart.

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Below Black Bart’s Pool, the drainage took a left turn, narrowed, and became populated with black volcanic rocks and dead ponderosa pines.


Another canyon pool.

Photo by Bill Priedhorsky.
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Heading for Deer Creek.

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Shortly before Deek Creek, the drainage narrowed sharply and our way was blocked by pools (and beyond that, a pouroff). We turned left and climbed up into the sandstone hills; we skirted a wide bowl and then descended into the wide, flat area we had crossed that morning further up. From this point, the only obstacle remaining before the pools was a large sandstone hill. It was getting very hot and dry.

We climbed nearly to the top and traversed left, arriving at a saddle where we’d been that morning. Charles and some others split off to head back to camp, while another group including me went to the pools for a dip. The weather was beginning to turn, becoming more cloudy, and the wind was picking up. Sitting in the shade while wet was very cold! After a few minutes, I dried off and headed back to camp.


A rock garden on the way from the pools back to camp. The crack begins near the mound in the middleground and extends to the left.

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It was a 45-minute sandy walk back to camp, and after a long hike it was quite a slog. I cooked enchiladas (chicken this time) for supper, and brownies for dessert, which were a hard sell because of the weather and the fact that everyone was already stuffed.

There had been some excitement in the other camp; Kim Scudder had taken a 30-foot fall and escaped with a dislocated pinky finger. Apparently, a ledge she’d been sitting on had given way. Dave Scudder (her dad) and Geoff Reeves had hiked out to the trailhead with her, and then Geoff turned around and came right back to camp. He materialized out of the bushes about 9:00 pm.

The weather continued to deteriorate. By dark it was drizzling on and off, and we headed for the tents.

Please continue reading on Day 18.

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