Spring 2019 – Escalante

escalante

Another fantastic adventure in the canyon country! Wow x 10. This Aprils adventure began the day after the ski resort closed for the season.

Our itinerary called for spending 4 days taking day hikes while moving closer to Boulder, Ut. Then Plan A , was to undertake an aggressive 10 day back packing loop through some very remote and seldom visited canyon country spanning both the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Stormy and windy weather was forecast for the next 4 days. We got an early start and after getting supplies in Dolores, we made it to the Comb Ridge by early afternoon. A quick lunch and then a great hike into Fish Mouth and then looping up to the crest of the Comb.

The next day’s forecast was for high winds, dropping temps, some precip beginning after noon and lasting 36 hours. We drove out of Butler Wash and onto highway 95 that connects Blanding to Natural Bridges and beyond. We parked at the Butler Wash Ruins parking area and spent a fun 1/2 day hiking around the Northern terminus of the Comb Ridge. A highlight was topping out on the high point above where the road has been blasted through. There are magnificent views and some other interesting stuff up there.

Moving on, through the developing storm, we crossed the lake at Hite, went South to Bullfrog and then up the switchbacks to the top of the Burr Trail. We found a nice spot to van camp and base a couple of more days of hiking out of.

The next morning we started hiking down the Lower Muley Twist. It was very windy, as predicted, but the lower canyon provided a lot of protection and turned out to be a great choice. We followed the canyon down to the intersection of the trail that goes out to The Post trail head. We went about half way to The Post and then left the trail and spent a few hours scrambling around on the Waterpocket Fold escarpment. There was a gusty and cold 30 mph+ wind on the exposed terrain near the ridge crest and we visited a cool arch to top it off. Fun.

We retraced our route back to the van and camped another night. The next morning we got an early start and hiked the Upper Muley Twist loop. This is a truly spectacular hike in all ways. Highly recommended. We headed for Boulder after getting back to the trail head in the mid afternoon.

Still on Plan A, we made contact with our friend Ace who lives in Boulder. Ace gave us use of his studio to get cleaned up and spend the night. The following day we got organized and packed for an early morning launch on the big 10 day backpacking loop.

Karen and I, Ace and our new friend Lisa, who is good friend to Ace and also a Boulder resident, set out the next day. Lisa’s 2 year old border collie Callie was also with us. We drove quite a way down the Hole in the Rock Road and left the van at one of the upper Coyote Gulch tributary trail heads. We would see it next in 10 days time. We all got in Ace’s truck and went back up the road to the Early Weed trail head in and the adventure began there.

The next 10 days were as good as it gets. Our route coursed through and across many major canyons and side canyons. Some named, most not. In 10 days we did not see any other people. We rarely saw any footprints, and those we saw were very faint and old. No cairns, no trails and miles of superlative slickrock walking. We crossed the Escalante River twice. There was plenty of water in all the canyons and potholes. We never carried more that 2 liters of water each and we went swimming almost every day. Karen and I only set our tent up on one night when it rained a little.

We had guide book beta but it was still challenging route finding. We used a rope a few times to haul packs and for some belayed scrambling in a few spots. I would characterize our route as complex, semi aggressive, very remote and kick ass cool.

Ace has spent a lot of time in the area and had traveled through most sections of the route at least once before. He is also a very experienced and competent wilderness traveler and rock climber. That really helped keep the vibe relaxed and fun for the entire trip. Lisa is also super solid and a very experienced mountain and desert adventurer. The best people in the world and super fun to be with!

We all felt very grateful and privileged to have experienced such a remarkable wilderness journey and adventure. Made even better when shared among a small group of compatible and like minded souls. This trip will never be forgotten.

I shot 535 photos. On other excursions of a similar magnitude I average more like 350. Here is a link to the “best of slideshow“. Thanks for reading my trip report!


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