The Gulch 2010 – Day 2

Synopsis: Dayhike to and play in Boulder Creek. September 11, 2010.

I had thought today would be a good day for a relatively easy dayhike over to Boulder Creek (which I incorrectly told everyone was Deer Creek, oops.) Unfortunately, it turned out to be quite a lot longer than I anticipated; at the time I told people it was because of ”meandering“, but I think really it was just error.

Fortunately, we did a bunch of relaxing and swimming in the large stream, which seemed to make up for it.


Morning in front of camp. This photo was taken by Ben, who consistently got up way before the rest of us.

Photo by Ben Miller.
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Our stream in front of camp had a somewhat distressing daily cycle; in the morning, it would be flowing rather robustly for several hundred yards below camp before disappearing into the sand, but over the course of the day it would slowly retreat until by mid-afternoon there was no water until one or two hundred yards above camp. Then as it got cooler it would come downstream again, with a trickle of water reaching camp by bedtime. There was never a problem with lack of water (not too far upstream it was clearly reliable for the foreseeable future), and we learned to compensate by filling up our dromedary bags in the morning, but it made me nervous.

Ben adds: One thing I found awesome was the sound of the valley in the morning. It was this very loud constant buzz of various bees and wasps. It was very refreshing to wake to that sound.

Eventually, everyone was awake and breakfasted and we began to pack up for our dayhike.


Preparing energetically for our dayhike.

Photo by Kelly Caine.
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The way to Boulder Creek was via Sleepy Hollow, which was shady and cool, though hiking through the soft sand was a drag, as it would be many times this trip.


Wind ripples in the sand of Sleepy Hollow.

Photo by Ben Miller.
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Sleepy Hollow junction. To the left is the standard route up, while to the right there was a spring marked on the map, which I wanted to investigate.

Photo by Pete Wiringa.
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Milkweed pods. Erin opened one up and showed us the innards.

Photo by Ben Miller.
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The spring was indeed present, below a medium-sized dry fall. However, it was a pool of muddy green water in the midst of a thicket of living and dead trees and brush. Interesting, but not a place to hang out.

There was a way up on canyon right just around the corner from the pool. It involved ascending a sand dune followed by a few feet of Class 3 scramble over loose rocks.


Kurt on the first exciting ascent of the trip.

Photo by Kelly Caine.
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Looking back down into Sleepy Hollow.

Photo by Ben Miller.
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Pete adds: I was happy to get out of Sleepy Hollow, or whatever sand-laden area we were technically in. We made a brief ascent through sand, which we would wind up using on two other day hikes (Escalante River and butte). While neither pretty nor exciting, this is one of my landmarks for the trip, because it always meant we were leaving the trudging through sand or, if we were coming back, that we weren’t horribly far from camp, but that much sand walking would be required.


Upstream in Sleepy Hollow above the fall.

Photo by Reid Priedhorsky.
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Kurt and Kelly under a pinyon tree, with one of the buttes that would become familiar over the next few days.

Photo by Erin Tatge.
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After resting and enjoying the view at the top of the ascent for a while, we began to contour around the bluff towards Boulder Creek.


We encountered this extremely rustic fence in pretty much the middle of nowhere.

Photo by Ben Miller.
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Incongruously, there was a pile of modern fencing supplies next to it.

Photo by Pete Wiringa.
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Pinyon/juniper forest and sandstone domes that characterize this part of Escalante.

Photo by Pete Wiringa.
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Another feature of the area is black volcanic rocks scattered across the slickrock.

Our direction of travel is straight ahead.

Photo by Ben Miller.
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Balanced rocks like this are common in the area. This small boulder has been here long enough for the sandstone underneath it to erode into a narrow pedestal.

Photo by Pete Wiringa.
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Ascending out of Sleepy Hollow.

Photo by Kurt Luther
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After a while we reached the pass between Sleepy Hollow and an unnamed wash which led down to Boulder Creek. We followed it downstream.


In this wash are some of the huge potholes that form a key attraction in the area.

Photo by Pete Wiringa.
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Overlook into Boulder Creek. On my map, this was marked as the way down. That turns out to have been an error.

Photo by Ben Miller.
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Once we found the right way, it was a short descent to Boulder Creek.

Kelly adds: Much longer and harder hike than I anticipated. This unexpected hard first day’s hike made me apprehensive about hikes the following days. The first major altitude gain came as quite a surprise but was beautiful! Climbing through a field of wildflowers made the tough going totally worth it.

The first sight of the river melted any left over concern over the difficulty of the hike. Resting my hot and tired feet in the cool stream felt heavenly. Jumping into the creek from the rock was refreshing and exhilarating. I barely remember the hike back that night except that it was much easier than the hike to Boulder Creek.


Lunch spot on the banks of Boulder Creek.

Photo by Pete Wiringa.
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Kelly, Sara, and Kurt playing in the creek.

Photo by Reid Priedhorsky.
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Looking up into the narrows.

Photo by Reid Priedhorsky.
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Ben contemplating a leap into the water.

Photo by Reid Priedhorsky.
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And he’s off!

Photo by Reid Priedhorsky.
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This isn’t actually Ben’s splash, but I needed a splash.

Photo by Reid Priedhorsky.
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A lizard that was hanging out right above the water.

Photo by Reid Priedhorsky.
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Russ chillaxing in the water.

Photo by Reid Priedhorsky.
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Kurt also flung himself off the rock, as did Kelly (not pictured).

Photo by Pete Wiringa.
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Kurt adds: Boulder Creek was one of my favorite destinations. Getting there was one of the toughest hikes on the trip but ultimately that much more rewarding. I enjoyed just chilling out and dangling my feet in the creek. And of course, once we decided to jump into the deep part of the creek (so cold!), we couldn’t stop ourselves. That really got the adrenaline pumping. When I think back to the trip that’s one of the first memories that comes to mind.


Boulder Creek where we were hanging out.

Photo by Reid Priedhorsky.
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Eventually, it was time to head home.


A funny rock on the way home.

Photo by Ben Miller.
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It was a fairly substantial slog; perhaps 90 minutes from Boulder Creek to camp through the hot afternoon.

Photo by Ben Miller.
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On the way over to Boulder Creek, one can jump over this crack. It’s perhaps 18 inches wide and 12 feet or so deep; not hard, but a fairly dramatic move. Pete and Russ elected to go around.

Photo by Pete Wiringa.
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Checking to make sure I can still see the rest of the party.

Photo by Kelly Caine.
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We arrived back in camp with time for a little relaxing and/or fooling around before and after dinner.


Kurt and me building a dam to try to make the water stick around longer during the day. Sadly this was unsuccessful; the dam had a tendency to break in the middle of the night, and the water we did collect had a grungy scum on top, because the outlet was below the surface and so floating goobers couldn’t continue downstream.

Photo by Pete Wiringa.
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Ben adds: At night I found a nice rock to lay on and watched the stars for awhile. I got to see two shooting stars which was also neat.

Please continue reading on Day 3.

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