October 1, 2001

100 nights in the Escalante

It's been nine summers since I spent a season as a backcountry ranger in the Escalante. During that season I spent nearly 100 nights camped out in, and between, the wild canyons of the Escalante, mostly by myself.
During those days I kept a journal religiously. Sometimes I'd lay in my tent and write by headlamp for two hours before going to sleep. A couple years later I was in a public library using the internet. I had a notebook with me that had information I needed at the library. I had my cell phone with me, and when it rang I answered it like an idiot. It was my ex-wife and we started to argue. I was embarrassed with my behavior in the library so I got up from the computer station and hurried outside, not realizing that I left my notebook at the computer. I went back upstairs to get it after I got off the phone and it was nowhere to be found. I checked with the library desk clerks, and looked everywhere, further embarrassing myself by even looking in the garbage cans out front. I figured somebody picked it up, and when opened, discovered there was no money or credit cards so they would've put it in the trash. No such luck! My notebook was gone and so were those journals! I went to my subaru and hung my head, so disappointed and pissed with myself. I wondered how long those 100 nights would live on in my mind. This post is what I remember of that season. The pictures may not be the greatest, but they are all scanned in 4x6's, that sat in a storage unit for the past nine years. Being in town was sort of something that I avoided because most of the locals weren't really that interested in being associated with employees of the brand new monument. Most remember how controversial the designation of the monument was with the locals. I wonder if the Native Americans, that were displaced by the Mormon settlers to Escalante, felt the same way a hundred some-odd years ago. Anyway, Escalante would've been a weird place to exist without some friends to hang out with. As it turns out, there were plenty of people in town for the same reason I was; the seasonal work on the monument.  

Escalante River: I spent most of my time in the canyons of the Escalante River. The next pictures are of the Escalante river, and it's bottoms, taken throughout most of the summer at various flows. I'm not exactly sure where each is taken, so I won't put any labels on them. If you know for sure, please comment.  

Aerial: Toward the end of my season I had the opportunity to ride to Bullfrog Marina with the Backcountry Ranger of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, who was based out of Escalante, to drop off a vehicle at the GCNRA Headquarters. He was then going to fly back to Escalante with the park service. He called ahead and found out that there was an extra seat on the plane so I went for it. The trip gave such a neat perspective of the canyons in
which I'd just spent so much time.

Death Hollow, Boulder Mail Trail, Maime Creek: Most of these photos are looking down into Death Hollow from the Boulder Mail Trail where it crosses Death Hollow. Quite the bottomless looking canyon. Even as your approaching Death Hollow it looks like a trail could never, in a million years, go down into it. With some exposure it does just that. One of the biggest pour-offs I've ever seen is in Maime Creek, just a short walk from it's mouth in Death Hollow. The BMT goes across the upper reach of Maime Creek and it's just a short walk to go and peer over the 300+ foot precipice.

I think it's funny to see the description for Poison Ivy in the flora guide books. It says something about poison ivy ranging in height from whatever to around 3 feet. The picture below is of Pat in Death Hollow just downcanyon of the BMT. He's about 6'3" and all that greenery? yip, Poison Ivy.

Below is the slickrock near where the BMT crosses Maime Creek. It had just rained so all the potholes were full.


Here I'm standing below the huge pour-off in Maime Ck., which Pat and I figured to be about 350'. There was plenty of quicksand in Maime ck. and Death Hollow so watch out!


Crack-in-the-Wall These photos are where the trail goes over the edge through the crack from, or to, Fortymile Ridge trailhead. I know they don't really show much, but it's the kinda place you just have to see then it makes sense.

Hackberry Of all the canyons of the Escalante that I walked I must say that my favorite backpack trip was through Hackberry Canyon, which isn't part of the Escalante. We started by getting into the top of Round Valley Draw and took the route south to where it meets Cottonwood Road.


 Calf Creek Falls

 Golden Cathedral

Hole-in-the-Rock & the road to get there.

A fall thunderstorm coming over the Straight Cliffs.

After the monsoon season of August the desert along the Hole-in-the-Rock road was nice and green

Dancehall Rock was so named by the Mormon pioneers. It still is a  Mormon party spot.

Fifty-mile Mountain I only did three or four trips to the Fifty. It takes forever to get there since it's so far over really bad roads. It's kind of a waste of time to go for any less than 3 or 4 days so the extra days of food makes for a bigger pack. I'm not going to say too much about the Fifty. It's one of those magical places that feels like it could be a million miles from the canyons of the escalante. Those secrets are best left to be stumbled upon after a long walk, at least I always found that to be the most rewarding way of exploration.
Top of the Middle Trail

...............................Middle Trail

Indian Gardens:

From near Fiftymile Point looking to the north

From near Fiftymile Point looking towards Lake Powell and Navajo Mtn.

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