Boulder Mail Trail to Death Hollow questions

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In a couple of weeks we (two of us) are keen to hike the Boulder Mail Trail but exiting through Death Hollow. Hopefully before it gets too hot although we plan to do the slickrock upper section early in the day.

I've got a couple of questions that I am hoping that others can help with:
- I am having trouble working out mileage for this version of the Boulder Mail Trail as trip reports/trail guides I have read that include mileage are a little confusing (e.g. some start at the Upper Death Hollow and others exit at Escalante). Does anyone know the approximate mileage for the version we want to do? Including how far it is from where you exit Death Hollow to the Escalante bridge?
- We are pretty fast hikers but know that we will be dealing with being in the water a good chunk of the time and want to enjoy being there. We plan on camping two nights in Death Hollow. Does this sound about right and does anyone have any particular recommendations for where to camp? Are suitable campsites reasonably frequent through the canyon?
- Has anyone got any particular advice for this trip?

Thanks in anticipation for your help.
 

Jackson

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#2
I think it's around 20 miles from the airstrip to the bridge via Death Hollow. It's something like 6 or so miles from the bottom of Death Hollow to the bridge. Just get on CalTopo and map it if you want a good estimate. It's usually pretty accurate, maybe a tad on the low side for mileage, and you can draw the line exactly as you want it. No need to depend on others' estimates!

Plenty of good camping all over, just look out for poison ivy. 2 nights in Death Hollow will be nicer than camping one night in DH and one night along the Escalante, in my opinion. We had planned on staying two nights, but we ended up hiking out on the second day to avoid incoming thunderstorms. Most of the Escalante campsites we saw (including the one we almost stayed at) weren't as good as the DH ones.

My advice would be to stay very wary of poison ivy. I went a little under a month ago and there's a ton in there.
It's also very helpful to have a walking stick or trekking poles if you plan on walking a lot of the way in the creek (which is helpful to avoid big patches of poison ivy). The mossy rocks in the creek can be slippery.

Be ready for the narrow section where it gets slippery with a low overhang you have to squat under and deep pools next to you. It wouldn't be hard to slip into the pool and soak your gear.
 
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I think it's around 20 miles from the airstrip to the bridge via Death Hollow. It's something like 6 or so miles from the bottom of Death Hollow to the bridge. Just get on CalTopo and map it if you want a good estimate. It's usually pretty accurate, maybe a tad on the low side for mileage, and you can draw the line exactly as you want it. No need to depend on others' estimates!

Plenty of good camping all over, just look out for poison ivy. 2 nights in Death Hollow will be nicer than camping one night in DH and one night along the Escalante, in my opinion. We had planned on staying two nights, but we ended up hiking out on the second day to avoid incoming thunderstorms. Most of the Escalante campsites we saw (including the one we almost stayed at) weren't as good as the DH ones.

My advice would be to stay very wary of poison ivy. I went a little under a month ago and there's a ton in there.
It's also very helpful to have a walking stick or trekking poles if you plan on walking a lot of the way in the creek (which is helpful to avoid big patches of poison ivy). The mossy rocks in the creek can be slippery.

Be ready for the narrow section where it gets slippery with a low overhang you have to squat under and deep pools next to you. It wouldn't be hard to slip into the pool and soak your gear.
Much appreciated advice @Jackson, we will definitely avoid the poison ivy as much as possible.
 

Nick

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#6
I've found that a lot of people just don't react to poison ivy. I've been through Death Hollow probably a half dozen times and I've been exposed to it on every trip and I've never had an issue, nor has anyone I've been with. We carried calamine lotion on a couple trips thinking we'd just gotten lucky. With that said, yes, watch out for the stuff and stay away from it, but don't be surprised if you don't have a reaction.
 

Jackson

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Neither I nor my two friends had any reaction while we were there either. I was very careful (paranoid) though because I had plenty of reactions to it when I lived in the Midwest.

After I got back from a subsequent backpacking trip, I must've touched some part of my gear that came in contact with poison ivy because I got a rash that looked identical to a poison ivy rash on the inside of my arm. I'm guessing it was left over from Death Hollow, unless poison ivy grows in the Cedar Mesa canyons. I honestly don't know.
 
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#8
I have problems with poison ivy, so I'm a bit concerned about that for a trip we're hoping to do next spring. But I've found that exposure to poison ivy followed quickly by swimming - or in this case, walking - in water seems to minimize the negative reaction. Perhaps it's fine as long as you wade in the water after having it brush against your lower body. But touching affected gear afterward could certainly lead to a later reaction, especially as the water exposure wouldn't happen in that case. I'll need to be careful!
 

Jackson

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#9
I have problems with poison ivy, so I'm a bit concerned about that for a trip we're hoping to do next spring. But I've found that exposure to poison ivy followed quickly by swimming - or in this case, walking - in water seems to minimize the negative reaction. Perhaps it's fine as long as you wade in the water after having it brush against your lower body. But touching affected gear afterward could certainly lead to a later reaction, especially as the water exposure wouldn't happen in that case. I'll need to be careful!
There are some stretches in there where it grows pretty thick. When in doubt, just walk in the creek. It's more fun anyway!
 

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