DEATH hollow... a long solo.... |

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DEATH hollow... a long solo....

Evening Light

Evening Light

I've wanted to do Death Hollow for years, but what a commitment! Close to 30 miles, it would be a long trip.

Well, Memorial Day 2011 Cristina had to stay around for work, but was kind enough to let me get a trip in without her. It seemed like the perfect opportunity for a go at Death Hollow.

Day 1
I slipped out of work at 1, in hopes of getting out of SLC before the holiday traffic set in. Perfect timing got me out before traffic, and to the exit Trailhead by 6PM. Although I had planned on camping there, several hours of daylight persuaded me to get a jump on the trip, so I unloaded the motorcycle, packed the pack, and headed to the trailhead.

Reaching the trailhead with an hour of light left, I hiked down from the Hells Backbone road to camp just as the sun started to set.

Day 2
Big trips always get me amped and excited, so I was up before first light, and had the pack packed and ready to go as the sun finally peeked over the cliff walls.

The upper section is mountainous, and not particularly interesting. Fortunately, in the cool of the morning, it goes quick. I am at the first narrows, then first reliable water by 8AM. My goal is to be to the perennial water by late afternoon.

First Spring

First Spring

I've heard the upper narrows can be hard, with lots of water and swimming. Being solo, I had brought a full wetsuit. I don't want to take chances, so suit up at the first pool of unknown depth. Suited up in a full wetsuit, with a wool hat and gloves, I chuckle to myself as I drop into the barely knee deep water! What a sight I must be! Working down, the obstacles all turn out to be easy. Short, straightforward downclimbs and pools no more than waist deep. The sun is shining, and all is right with the world. I contemplate taking my wetsuit off every few minutes, but am convinced as soon as I do, the swimming sections will start, so keep it on.

Shockingly, I reach the perennial water well before noon. Wow! Way ahead of schedule. Carrying a light pack, and being solo, I am moving at a quick and comfortable rhythm. A sunny spot beckons to me, so I pump water and snooze for an hour in the sun.

First Water

First Water

From the perennial water down it is easy going, wading in the stream most of the time. By late afternoon I reached the Boulder Mail Trail crossing. This is a really pretty area with good camping, so decide to call it a day early and settle in for a beautiful evening.

Home sweet home...

Home sweet home...

Day 3

The day dawned cloudy and dark. It seems windy above the canyon, but deep in Death Hollow the wind is mostly blocked, save a few gusts occasionally. I find myself stalling a bit, hoping the sun will come out before I start hiking for the day. It's not cold, but cool enough that wading in the stream without the sun seems unappealing. Finally I give up and head down.

From BMT down to the Escalante is beautiful. More open than the upper section with bigger views. The final narrows are incredible! I start to run into a few groups here that have come up from the Escalante River. Onward!

I was not really prepared for the crux of the day.... crossing the Escalante river! Where Death Hollow meets the Ecalante the crystal clear water of Death Hollow merge with a torrential and muddy flows of the Ecalanate. Timing seems to have put me at the crossing right at peak flow for the day.... Cautiously, I cross the Escalante 3 times to get to the shortcut exit. Each time hoping not to be swept down. Yikes! Once on the exit, it is an easy scramble and hike back to my car.


What a trip! This is definitely one of the best backpacks I have ever done, and certainly tops on the list for what I have done in Escalante. I can't wait to go back!

2011-06-20
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