The Gulch 2010 – Planning Page


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Change log

  • May 30, 2011
    • Add lessons learned
  • August 22 – Action Required
    • Food – How to plan and what you need to do
    • Group gear assignments
    • Balance is due by September 9
  • August 15 – Action Required (Ben/Kurt)
    • Update itinerary with flight info
    • Hotel info
    • Who’s renting the cars
    • Tent assignments
    • Maps
  • August 10 – Action Required
    • FAQ, equipment list updated w/ optional gear, hotel prefs
  • August 3 – Action Required
    • Medical form, roster updates
  • July 27
    • Gear list and some preparedness info
  • July 24 – Action Required
    • Page created: roster, itinerary, financials, physical prep.

Lessons Learned

  • Be more clear about what kind of leadership style there will be. It turns out my style before the trip is authoritative, very organized, with clear and detailed directions on what is going to happen. Then once we’re in the wilderness, I’m much more lassez faire. This works, but people can be confused by the shift, so I should explain that the leadership style will change and why.
  • Try to be better at estimating hiking time/difficulty and communicating uncertainty (a perennial issue). There’s always psychological pressure to be optimistic and make people happy, but it’s better to offer realistic expectations.
  • Have people sort their own photos down a bit and assemble their own panoramas before sending them to me, to cut down on my trip report workload.
  • Asking people to write for the trip report worked, but it’s probably better to have people focus on vignettes rather than writing narratives, since the former is what fits best into the reports.
  • It’s very hard to write a narrative months after the fact. Try to figure out a way to make this happen during the trip (both equipment wise and motivation) to better capture the moment.
  • Consider being more of a hardass about training for the trip (self included).
  • Inquire about acrophobia beforehand, to be better prepared.
  • Ask for food allergies/preferences early on, before sending out the meal planning e-mail.


  • Reid Priedhorsky – trip leader
  • Erin Tatge – co-leader; Reid’s wife
  • Pete Wiringa – Reid’s friend from college
  • Ben Miller – Reid’s colleague-in-sin
  • Russ Grandgeorge – Reid’s friend from college
  • Sara Tatge McCarty – Erin’s sister
  • Kurt Luther – Reid’s colleague
  • Kelly Caine – Reid’s colleague-in-maybe-sin


  • How much water capacity should I bring? Three liters. At least one of these should not be a camelbak.
  • What’s with the caribiners? Useful for clipping gear here and there. Optional. Don’t bring climbing biners; you want the inexpensive ones near the checkout at REI.

Equipment and preparedness


Equipment checklist (PDF) and annotations.


Weather range to be prepared for is 30 degrees with thunderstorm and hail to 110 degrees and sunny (you don’t have to be comfortable, but don’t put yourself or others at risk). Out-and-about minimum is say 40 degrees and thunderstorming. The records are 37 and 97, the averages 53 and 80. The expected weather is superb: warm during the day, cool at night, and clear the whole time.

If you can supply any of the group gear, please let me know. If not, don’t worry about it.

Optional gear

The following items from the gear list are optional. Everything else is required (unless it’s obviously not relevant; e.g., if you need tampons, you probably know it); I haven’t divided that further into “you’ll be miserable” vs. “if you show up without it I will insist that you get one before we go in”.

  • pajamas
  • bandanna
  • swimsuit
  • camp towel (a washcloth works well)
  • dental floss
  • soap
  • hand sanitizer
  • wash cloth
  • comb
  • pee rag
  • lotion
  • mirror
  • multitool
  • compass
  • GPS
  • camera
  • journal
  • books
  • camp chair kit
  • caribiners
  • walking stick
  • survival kit

Group gear


Reid has the necessary maps. If you’d like your own maps as well, feel free. I’m bringing two sets of maps: large scale, Trails Illustrated “Canyons of the Escalante”, and small scale (1:24k), the three USGS 7.5 minute quads “Calf Creek”, “King Bench”, and “Red Breaks”.


I propose the following four tent groups.

Tyrant’s Palace (tent: Reid’s Big Agnes 2-man)

  • Reid
  • Erin

Other Man’s Wife (tent: Sara’s 1-man)

  • Sara

Hot Grits (tent: Ben’s Hubba Hubba 2-man)

  • Kurt
  • Kelly

Sausage Party II (tent: Reid’s Half Dome 4-man)

  • Ben
  • Pete
  • Russ

Group gear assignments

Still needed:
  • One 33oz white gas bottle

If you can supply any of the above items, let me know. Otherwise, we’ll purchase them in Salt Lake.

Car waterpurchase in SLC (16 gallons)
First aid kitReid
Tent(s) w/ polesReid, Ben, Sara
Tent pegsReid, Ben, Sara
Water carriersReid
Deck of cardsKurt
Thermarest patch kitReid
Rope and stringReid
Water purification (filter, chemicals)Reid
Wildlife, geology book(s)Erin/Reid
  Fuel bottlesReid (2×33oz, 1×22oz), ??? (1×33oz)
  Fuelpurchase in SLC (1 gallon)
  Stove repair kitReid
  Cooking potsReid (4qt, kettle, lid for 6qt), Ben (6qt)
  Big spoonReid
  Dish spongeReid
  Dish soapReid
  Dish towelReid
  Critter defenseReid



Note: Erin is in charge of food for the trip, so contact her with any questions. No question too small!

I have some suggestions for planning, cooking, and packaging food. Since we have some new backpackers, I’m going to be pretty detailed. If you have any more questions at all, please ask! In my experience, bad food is an easy way to make for a cranky trip.

However, the modal outcome is that our backpacking trips are a delicious experience, even for n00bs. Just follow the directions and ask any questions and you’ll do great!

What we’ll do is that each person is on their own for their lunches and snacks and some breakfasts. At dinner and some breakfasts, we’ll cook as a group. The meals we have are:

  • Breakfasts – 7 long trip/4 short trip
  • Lunch – 7 long trip/4 short trip
  • Dinner – 7 long trip/4 short trip.

Food restrictions – important!

We have one person (Kurt) who is allergic to peanuts. No peanuts or peanut products may be in group meals (check the ingredients). The warning “processed on machinery which also processes peanuts” is OK. For your personal food, bringing some peanut products is OK, but please cut back on peanuts when convenient (eg, almond butter instead of peanut butter, using other nuts in your trail mix).

We also have one person who dislikes mushrooms, olives, pickles, cantaloupe, raw tomatoes, oysters, and all nuts except cashews. So communal food should exclude these or make them easy to remove.

If you have a food allergy, are vegetarian or vegan, or have other food preferences that you’d like to make known, please reply to everyone ASAP.

Your responsibilities

For yourself:

  • breakfasts - 3 short trip/6 long trip
  • lunches - 4 short trip/7 long trip
  • personal snacks and drinks

For the group:

Reid: 1 group dinner for 8 people
Erin: 1 group breakfast for 8 people
Sara: 1 group dinner for 8 people
Pete: 1 group dinner for 5 people
Russ: 1 group dinner for 5 people
Ben: 1 group dinner for 8 people
Kurt: 1 group dinner for 8 people
Kelly: 1 group dinner for 8 people

For example, Reid is on the long trip. Thus, and consulting the list above, he will prepare one group dinner for 8 people, 6 personal breakfasts, 7 personal lunches, and snacks and drinks for himself.

Feel free to make your own partnerships for individual food.



At breakfasts we’ll make hot water for everyone to use. Example individual breakfasts:

  • Instant oatmeal
  • Cream of Wheat
  • Granola

(optional add-in ideas: brown sugar, honey, raisins, other dried fruits, butter/margarine)


At lunch we won’t make hot water, so items shouldn’t require any cooking.

Trail mix is a delicious snack, but not a meal.

Example lunch mix & match:

  • Carbs: tortillas (Reid & Erin plan 1.5 per day), pita bread, Ryvita type crackers, bagels
  • Proteins: peanut butter, jelly, cream cheese (I do about 2 oz/day), salami, summer sausage, smoked salmon, hard cheese, instant hummus, foil packets of tuna or chicken
  • Condiments: mustard, french-fried onions


  • Meals do not need to be fancy!
  • If they require more than one pot, that’s probably too fancy.
  • A good source of inspiration can be the ethnic food aisle. There are lots of boxed dinners that are just-add-water.
  • Whole dried beans take too long to cook and should not be brought. Instant beans are fine.
  • It’s nice to provide a desert with dinner. it’s not something we need every night, so if you don’t feel inspired, that’s fine. A dessert can be something simple like a chocolate bar. Instant pudding also works well.

Example group dinners:

  • Macaroni and cheese- the powdered sauce type. Optional add-in ideas: freeze dried peas or other veggies (e.g. “Just Veggies”, available in hippie grocery stores), a pouch or two of tuna.
  • Pasta with powdered sauce packet (optional add-in idea: hard cheese)
  • Jambalaya or red beans and rice (optional add-in idea: summer sausage)
  • Seasoned boxed rice dishes (optional add-in idea: foil pouch of chicken)
  • Burritos – dried refried bean mix, tortillas, cheese, powdered taco sauce


  • Dried fruits
  • Fruit leather
  • Gorp/Trail mix
  • M&Ms (peanut butter are my favorites)
  • Jerky
  • Clif bars
  • Candy bars
  • Tang
  • Hot cocoa
  • Instant coffee or tea
  • lemonade or Gatorade
  • Dried milk (put on granola, in oatmeal, in hot cocoa)
  • Margarine or butter or oil (let me know what your needs in this department are, I can bring the oils for everyone)
  • Salt and pepper (Reid and Erin will provide for group)
  • Tabasco sauce (Reid and Erin will provide)


We will have:

  • 2 stoves (one burner each)
  • 1 kettle for boiling water. (No food goes in here, just water for making drinks, oatmeal, etc.)
  • 1 large saucepan (6 quarts)
  • 1 medium sized saucepan (4 quarts)
  • Big serving/stirring spoon
  • Spatula


There are two guidelines for portion planning; choose the one that seems most appropriate for what you’re cooking. You will be working hard, so you’ll need more calories than you do at home. Let the team know if you have a particularly big appetite.

  • Method A is to plan about 2 “official” servings per person. For example, I have a box of macaroni and cheese that contains 2.5 servings. For 8 of us, I would use 6 boxes (15 servings). Use caution, though, as things that are designed to be side dishes have smaller official servings.
  • Method B is to plan 2 cups of water added per person. I have a box of Jambalaya mix that calls for 2.5 cups of water to be added (and also claims a somewhat absurd 6 servings, so I’m choosing to ignore that). Again, I’d probably use 6 boxes (15 cups of water or 1.875 each).

Packing and Organizing

  • All boxed items except maybe crackers should be taken out of their boxes and put in ziplock freezer bags. Freezer bags hold up better than regular (“storage”) ziplock bags.
  • I then put all the items for a specific meal in a larger bag, like a grocery sack or drawstring bag This saves digging through everything to make a meal. Mac & cheese with add-ins, for example: dump all of the pasta and freeze-dried veggies into a freezer bag (I’ll cook these together). Cut out one copy of the instructions and write on the back what bulk items are needed – in this case, dried milk and butter. Put the following in the larger bag: pasta bag, sauce packets, foil tuna packets, instructions. Then label the larger bag clearly.
  • Take into consideration that things will be smooshed up in your pack. Things like pita bread will get damaged but stay edible. I personally think tortillas hold up better. I’ve started to think of it in terms of "what would happen to this food if I sat on it for several hours?"
  • Buy semi-hard cheeses like cheddar in blocks, not shredded. Hard cheeses like parmesan it is OK to buy pre-shredded.
  • We will not bring a cooler or anything like that.
  • There are some things that you might think need to be refrigerated, like cheddar cheese or cream cheese, that actually last several days on the trail. I consider cream cheese to be good for about 7 days.
  • Perishable items (e.g. tortillas, cream cheese) should be left sealed in their original packaging until needed – for example, only one package of tortillas/cheese is unsealed at a time. However, it’s useful to put the sealed package in a ziplock for use once it’s unsealed.
  • Bring plastic jars/bottles, not glass.


The grocery store is not the place to plan your food; you should plan everything out beforehand, including quantities of each item.

  • Here is Erin and Reid’s shopping list (PDF, Word), in which I plan out what we needed for each meal as well as if it is coming from home or we need to buy it after flying out west.
  • We will go to both a regular grocery store and a hippie grocery store.
  • Things like freeze-dried veggies, dried hummus, and dried refried beans can be found at most co-ops if not at your regular grocery. You can get dried whole milk at some Hispanic and/or Asian groceries.
  • There’s no need to buy things at home if they are readily available. For example, if you buy your tortillas in Minnesota, not only do you have to lug them to Utah, but they’re also a few days older than the ones you could buy in Salt Lake City.
  • There are also freeze-dried meals available at outdoors stores. These are easy but expensive (especially for things like granola – yikes!). They are simpler to make than doing stuff from scratch, and they taste fine but aren’t quite as good. You still need to double the servings.
  • If you need dried eggs for something, let me know and we’ll bring them. They’re hard to find, and we have lots.


  • There are a lot of websites and books available. Most recipes are for car camping, however, not backpacking. If it involves baking, multiple pans, or hours of cooking, it’s not the right meal for this trip.
  • I haven’t used any of the recipes on this page, but they look well-thought out. Please note that the portions are for 2 people.

Sample food days

Erin’s day

  • breakfast:
    • 1 pouch of instant grits or pouch of instant mashed potatoes
    • cocoa
  • lunch:
    • 1 or 2 tortillas
    • 2 oz. cream cheese
    • 2 oz. nut butter
  • snacks:
    • a couple of handfuls of trail mix
    • jerky
    • small amount of dried fruit (mangoes or apricots)
    • sugar-free powdered lemonade
    • nighttime cocoa
  • group dinner

Reid’s day

  • breakfast:
    • 2 pouches of oatmeal or 2 servings of cream of wheat
    • 1 or 2 Tbs. brown sugar
    • 1-2 Tbs. raisins
    • blob of margarine
    • cocoa with extra powdered milk
  • lunch:
    • 1 or 2 tortillas
    • 2 oz. sausage
    • mustard
    • French-fried onions
    • 1 oz. hard cheese (like aged gouda)
  • snacks:
    • a couple of handfuls of trail mix
    • jerky
    • dried fruit
    • fruit leather
    • nighttime hot tang
  • group dinner

What to do next

  • Reply all with any food allergies, dietary restrictions, or dislikes not already mentioned above - ASAP.
  • Reply all as you figure out what you want to bring for your group dinner so we don’t all bring the same thing (some duplication is fine, but a week of mac and cheese is a bit much). You must have your meals planned before arriving in Salt Lake City, although we will go shopping there.
  • Newbies (Kurt, Kelly, Pete, and Russ), please send Erin your shopping list by Sunday the 29th. This way I can see if there are areas that we should talk about and address any questions you have more specifically. (We ask for this because past newbies have appreciated the service and because even your personal food choices affect the team.)
  • Let Erin know if you have questions/concerns, no matter how trivial they may seem. While backcountry cooking is not hard, you (and we) will want to figure out any potentially rough patches before we’re in the backcountry and it’s too late to fix them.

Physical preparation

While this trip will be easy – the minimum physical effort is hiking 5 level miles in and then out – you’ll benefit significantly from training and the trip will be more fun. This is not required, but I strongly recommend a physical training regiment as active as you can manage; the six or eight weeks remaining until the trip is plenty of time for noticeable benefit.



Day Date What
-1 9/08 09:00pm - Reid and Erin arrive in SLC
0 9/09 07:45am - Kelly arrives in SLC
09:45am - Kurt arrives
09:45am - Russ arrives
10:45am - Sara arrives
11:00am - Pete and Ben arrive
12:00am - Lunch
01:30pm - Food shopping
03:30pm - Finalize packing (make packs ready to lift & go)
06:00pm - Pre-trip celebration dinner
1 9/10 06:30am - Breakfast
07:30am - Depart SLC via rented vehicles
12:00pm - Lunch in Boulder, UT
01:30pm - Arrive trailhead and start hiking
06:00pm - Arrive base camp
29/11Day-hiking / relaxing
39/12Day-hiking / relaxing
49/13Day-hiking / relaxing
59/14Day-hiking / relaxing [Short trip – hike out, return to SLC]
69/15Day-hiking / relaxing [Short trip – fly home]
79/16Day-hiking / relaxing
89/17Hike out, return to SLC
99/18Fly home (earliest flight 10am)


  1. You must not make air travel arrangements which do not fit the above itinerary. Let me know if this is looking to be a problem. In particular, note that there is no guaranteed arrival time in Salt Lake on Day 8. Thus, don’t schedule air travel on this day without talking to me (i.e., red-eye flights may be possible but we should talk first).
  2. There is no provision for shopping other than what’s noted explicitly above, except in case of emergency. Depending on the rental car situation, there may be possibilities for this if you arrive earlier.
  3. If you are doing the short trip, it’s probably worth your while to talk to the other shorters to coordinate flights, etc.


We are staying at the Spring Hill Suites Salt Lake City Airport under 5 separate reservations.

On the way out, Sara has arranged her own lodging.

Night of People Name What Done?
9/08 2 Reid 1 room, 2 people (2 beds) [Reservation A] Yes
9/09 8 Reid 1 room, 2 people (2 beds) [A] Yes
Reid 1 room, 4 people (2 beds) [B] Yes
Kurt 1 room, 2 people (1 bed) [C] Yes
9/14 2 Kurt 1 room, 2 people (1 bed) [D] Yes
9/17 5 Ben 2 rooms, 5 people (4 beds) [E] Yes

Rental cars

  • Reid has rented a minivan, to return to SLC 9/17
  • Kurt has rented a full size car, to return SLC 9/14

Info needed from you

I need some medical info from you; this is for two purposes. First, it’s useful in identifying any problems that might occur during the trip, in order to mitigate or avoid them, and if there is an emergency, to provide as much information as possible to the medical responders. This form also has emergency contact information and stuff like that.

Instructions: Fill out the form. You can either print it out, fill it in by hand, and give it to me or scan/e-mail, or edit one of the files and e-mail it to me.

Please do this by August 10.

Medical form: PDF, Word, OpenOffice.

I also need your flight info as soon as you arrange your flights.


I need a deposit of $150 to hold your place on the trip (unless otherwise arranged – let me know if this is a hardship); you aren’t considered to have committed to the trip until I get your deposit. This is a non-refundable deposit. Exceptions may be made if your dropping out does not materially affect the logistics of the trip (e.g., we can find someone to take your place). A check made out to Reid Priedhorsky is fine.

Total trip cost is estimated to be $400 per person and the balance of $250 is due September 9 (i.e., you can bring it with you to the trip). This includes permits, rental car(s) from SLC to the trailhead, rental car gas, motel in SLC, and a buffer for other misc community expenses. I expect actual cost to be less and so you can expect some money back after the trip. If you drop out, this portion will be refunded except for any sunk costs. Airfare and food are not included. If you spend money on behalf of the trip, that can be deducted from your balance.

I realize that some folks are of greater means than others; there will be an opportunity to volunteer to pay a larger share if you so choose, thus reducing the cost for others. Details later.

Trip announcement

Dear friends, family, colleagues, and members of Congress:

You are invited on an incredible desert backpacking adventure to be held early- to mid-September. This trip will be an easy one (and I mean actually easy, not the infamous "Priedhorsky Moderate"). No experience is required.

Destination: Sleepy Hollow (a tributary of The Gulch):

  • Hike in: 5 miles, level
  • Dayhikes: easy to strenuous (your option)
  • Photos: See days 14-18 of this trip report
  • Key attractions:
    • Rolling red & yellow sandstone as far as you can see
    • Spring-fed swimming holes in the middle of the desert
    • Pre-Anasazi rock art and relic cowboy cabins
    • Perennial streams
    • Sculpted slot canyons
    • Pinnacles & mesas to climb, with amazing views
    • Limitless possibilities for exploration & every direction has different wonders
  • Map

Basically, this is an opportunity to experience a mysterious, incredible, and otherworldly beautiful landscape, on a trip specifically designed for those new to backpacking (but experienced folks will greatly enjoy it too). This will be my 40th backcountry canyon adventure, and I have been to this location twice.

Copyright © 1999-2013 Reid Priedhorsky. Last modified: 2014-03-24 21:37 MDT. Disclaimer.