Confessions of Stupidity: Little Death Hollow


Feb 23, 2012
I have spent most of my life in the outdoors, and I'm very comfortable in how to survive in an emergency situation. This weekend I was given a reminder of how un-nurturing "Mother Nature" can be, and given a good dosage of humility.

So let me save you the trouble of calling me names, because I admit that I behaved stupidly and am lucky to be alive.

Here is my confessional / trip report:

My wife and kids were out of town and my usual Outdoors friends were all busy (or recently split up), so I decided to go hike Zebra Canyon by myself (I know going into the outdoors by yourself isn't recommended but I figured Zebra Canyon is fairly popular and I sent my weekend plans to my wife with instructions to send someone to look for me if she hasn't heard from me by Monday morning.

Being by myself I was able to hike Zebra Canyon in less time than I expected. It was my first time hiking Zebra Canyon and I thought it was beautiful!

I finished by 8pm on Saturday, so I drove over to Little Death Hollow which was an alternate activity on my route if I finished up Zebra in time. I slept at the trail head of Little Death Hollow and started hiking around 7:30am in the morning.

Here is a quick list of all the things I did wrong on my hike:

  • Did a hike I had never done before by myself
  • Went to a remote area where nobody was around to help or report trouble
  • Did not thoroughly research the hike: I thought Little Death Hollow & Wolverine Canyon was a 7 mile loop and obviously connected)
  • Had the wrong GPS coordinates format and continued with the hike with the assumption "I'd figure it out"
  • Did not review my location and tracks sufficently
  • Due to believing it was only a 7 mile hike, I did not ration my water
  • More than anything I was over confident and under prepared.

When I showed up, I wasn't sure where the trail was, so I used my drone to scout around to ensure I was going the right direction. I left with about a gallon and a half of water, a sandwich, and a bag of "Trolli Sour Watermelon Sharks" with the expectation that I would return within about 3 hours.

I hiked in and it was a beautiful hike. It took a couple of miles before the hike became great, but it did become awesome! Having confessed how irresponsible I was go there unprepared and alone, I will also confess that I loved being the only person in the world doing that hike that day. In my enjoyment, I didn't realize that every step I took that day was a step against myself. After about 3 hours of hiking, I was getting nervous but I hoped that my GPS (Garmin 64st) was just not getting a signal because of the canyon (and I was having so much fun that I just wasn't checking my location like I should have) so I continued but after 6 hours, I was over 8 miles away from my van as the crow flies and I realized that something had to be really wrong.

So I reviewed my map further and realized that I was in the wrong canyon. I was following the wash instead of the trail and hiked through a lot of Horse Canyon. After 10 minutes I decided that I needed to go back and follow my GPS tracks to get back to the van but at this point I only had 1 liter of water remaining and when I returned to hiking my body was more noticeably sore.

So I hiked back the way I came. I knew there was a small stagnant pond within 3 miles of the trailhead, so as I hiked back I was careful to save at least 300ml of water until I reached the stagnant pond. As I became further dehydrated I literally saw a mirage that I thought was water and my body became very achy.

When I reached the small pond I drank the rest of my water and filled up my life straw container with the water from the pond (which had cow feces floating in it), I recalled there being a deeper pond not far ahead (which I hoped to be cleaner) so I continued on. I didn't find the deeper pond, and I remember having read that you could filter urine through a LiifeStraw, it may have made it sanitary to drink it did NOTHING to help the flavor.

So I plugged my nose and drank and then used the "Sour Watermelon Sharks" to mask the flavor.

Having flown the drone over the area previously, I knew that I was now within a mile and a half of the van, but my body was exhausted. I had considered resting and continuing later but I was concerned that if I stopped, I would not be able to continue later. So I pushed on until I got back to my van and hot water (which all of my water was by this point) had never tasted better.

Reviewing my GPS tracks I discovered when I got home that hiked 37 miles. I limped for a couple of days and still have not felt like I can consume enough water since then, but I walked away healthy and with a renewed respect for nature.

The first 2/3rds of my footage from that hike was happy and fun and the last 3rd was more of a "Man vs Wild" type video. I selectively edited the video to reflect the good times and trimmed out my panic and concern.


P.S. I just got my drone, so I didn't know at the time how to adjust the camera angle and that is why the propellers are so visible in the video.


  • Zebra.jpg
    82.7 KB · Views: 44
  • LDH.jpg
    87.4 KB · Views: 43
  • s.jpg
    19.4 KB · Views: 44
Thanks for sharing this story. I like when people share things like this because they help others (like me) be more prepared. I'm glad it was still a beautiful hike!
Wild! I'm still not 100% sure what route you ended up doing. I'd love to see those GPS tracks. Good on you for sharing the story though. I've had some experiences where I felt I should just sweep it under the rug, but stuff like this is so valuable to other people. Keeps reality in check. Thank you.

Oh, and the standard LWH - Wolverine loop (~17 miles) is awesome!
Yowsers, 37 miles? Was that just on Sunday or did that include your mileage from Zebra? Either way, you had a rough day.

I'm not sure that I'd include doing a new hike alone or in a remote area in a list of things you did wrong. Yes, it's riskier than going alone- through the level of risk depends greatly on who you go with- but it seems like most of the problems stemmed from your last bullet point: under-preparation and over-confidence. But then again, I may be trying to justify my decisions to go hiking alone, since that's usually the only way I get to travel. Plus there's a peace in hiking alone that you can't achieve with company.

The other thing you did wrong was taking sour sharks. Peanut M&Ms or Oreos are much better choices. ;)
I love this report. I too have gone into the unexpected and foolishness (completely at my own fault). I'm going to soon upload a trip report of Boundary Canyon (stunning) and the adventure we had. Might or might not have included an airlift of a party member. We, too, learned a lot.
Yikes! I know what it's like to feel dehydrated while hiking and thinking about that while down in a desert canyon with scarce water sources, all by yourself in a remote area, with nothing to contact help, all just makes me shudder a bit. Glad you lived to tell the tale!
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
Laura Exceptionally Disgusting Acts of Human Stupidity General Discussion 21
Laura Stupidity abounds General Discussion 5
Jackson Little Rock Creek Backpacking 5
F Little Death Hollow Backpack Trip Planning 2
scatman Little Mountain - January 21, 2023 Hiking & Camping 28
westy A little bragging General Discussion 1
balzaccom A little help, please? Backpacking 0
scatman Little Mountain - January 22, 2022 Hiking & Camping 1
Janice Cosmic Ashtray via Wolverine/Little Death Hollow & Escalante River? Trip Planning 16
Rockskipper Sayonara, Quiet Little Green River General Discussion 8
C Little Hiking, Little Rockhounding Everything Else 0
regehr Little Wild Horse fatalaties Monday General Discussion 12
W Little Colorado shuttle / transport Trip Planning 7
D New dams proposed for Little Colorado River/Grand Canyon General Discussion 2
kwc A little more Adirondack wandering ... Hiking & Camping 1
SteveR Still Winter- Little Crowfoot Peak Winter Sports 4
piper01 Little Death Hollow, GSENM Hiking & Camping 3
NorthwestWanderer Washington - 4x4 to Bear Lake & Little Deer Pass Off Road 0
o2bav8 A little bit of everything & don't drive on blue clay when wet Hiking & Camping 18
scatman Little Cataloochee Trail, Great Smokey Mountains National Park - June 3, 2018 Hiking & Camping 13
J Escalante Natl Mon. Wolverine and Little Death Hollow and overland routes April 22-25, 2018 Backpacking 0
M Escalante- Little Death Hollow Loop conditions? Trip Planning 14
RyanP Little Wild Horse tips for this weekend? Deep cold water in canyon? Trip Planning 5
swmalone Willow Creek to Little Cottonwood Creek Loop Trail Hiking & Camping 0
tomcat32 Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness: Little Rainbow Mountain Hiking & Camping 3
B Utah Backpacking with Little Kids? Trip Planning 3
K TR: 4/14 - 4/16 Nice Little Valley south of Mammoth Lakes,CA Backpacking 2
SteveR Little Crowfoot Peak, Alberta Winter Sports 6
F Little bit of a combo General Discussion 1
kimbur96 2 nights in Little Brooklyn Hut, Snowy Mountain Range, Wyoming Winter Sports 4
George_Washington_Hayduke Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument: Little Death Hollow/Horse/Wolverine Loop Backpacking 0
ashleyoutside Slot Canyon Hiking – Little Wild Horse Canyon Hiking & Camping 4
Jon Carbaugh Little Wild Horse/Bell Canyon Loop Hiking & Camping 7
regehr hiker injured and rescued in Little Cottonwood General Discussion 3
Noun Sequitur A Little Bit of Bisti Everything Else 25
rich67 A Little Drive Up Schnebly Hill (Sedona) Off Road 2
Sandro Invite Grand Canyon, Utah Flats & Little Colorado, October Meet Up (Members Only) 7
Nate Levine Advice on hiking the Little Colorado River in July Trip Planning 7
Dave Fees coming for Big, Little Cottonwood Canyons General Discussion 0
DrNed Biking The Little Wild Horse Road Everything Else 1
Ross Canaan Mountain & Little Colorado rim exploration Backpacking 16
IntrepidXJ Little Wild Horse Canyon & Bell Canyon Hiking & Camping 2
andyjaggy Little Sahara Hiking & Camping 2
DrNed Little Wild Horse Road Trip Planning 13
Scott Chandler A Return to Desert: Little Wild Horse Hiking & Camping 7
WasatchWill Seeking a little help for Fall Break with family in GSENM Trip Planning 4
Red Rock Rangers Little Jamaica On The Water 0
Blake Merrell Cuberant, Kamas & Lofty with a little Mount Marsell Backpacking 18
Ross Invite: Exploring Little Colorado's north rim + Colorado East Rim viewpts Trip Planning 3
Ross Help/Invite:Cape Solitude at rim of Colorado & Little Colorado confluence Trip Planning 0

Similar threads