Cosmic Ashtray via Wolverine/Little Death Hollow & Escalante River?

Janice

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Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
475
I'm interested in backpacking the Little Death Hollow/Wolverine loop and would like to extend the trip a few days. I'm wondering what it would be like to go from Little Death Hollow and Horse Canyon down to the Escalante and head upstream a bit to where the Gulch comes in, but instead of going up the Gulch head to the other (southern) side of the river and go over land to the Cosmic Ashtray/Navel/Volcano and explore the terrain in that area. I saw a 2018 trip report about this and would love additional information. A few questions:

1) Has anyone done this (and liked it) and can give tips for exiting the river and finding the structure? And did you explore other things nearby that you recommend?

2) Even if you haven't done this, do you know what the river's like between Horse Canyon and the Gulch? I've been on the Escalante between Boulder Mail Trail and Hwy 12 - how is this part similar or different from that part?

3) Or do you have alternative suggestions for extending the Little Death Hollow/Wolverine loop? I'm interested in trying off-trail routes if they're not too complicated; I'm not as confident in my route-finding skills as I'd like!

4) Would it be ok to do this in the spring (weather permitting - probably April) if this fall isn't possible?
 

priz1234

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Jun 10, 2020
Messages
75
Earlier this year, I did a trip down the gulch and did that section of the escalante river between the Gulch and Horse canyon going the opposite direction you would be going. I've never done the section between Boulder Mail Trail and Hwy 12 so can't compare it to that. I thought the section of the river was going to be pretty slow going and have some bad bushwacking but it actually wasn't bad at all. There is actually a fairly decent trail through most of it. There was definitely still some bushwacking and we lost the trail a couple times but we quickly would get back on it. I also really enjoyed that section of the river as well. Maybe it was partially because I didn't have that high of expectations, but I thought that part of the canyon was very cool.

We were there in April this year and all of the crossings were pretty easy and not too deep. I don't think our 50lb dog ever even had to swim on any of the crossings and I don't remember water getting that much higher than my knees. But it was also a pretty low snow year so not sure how much higher the water would be in April if it was more of a normal snow year. The river could also just change year to year as well. I think the temperature was pretty good in April, I remember the water being a little chilly but we did wear neoprene socks for that section so it wasn't bad.

On that same trip, I had considered climbing out of the river and going up to a peak on the south side but ended up not doing it. I did run into someone along the way and they said the exit out of the canyon is pretty easy and that he had used it a few times but I didn't get a good look of the climb. Easy is definitely relative and this guy was a guide for Andrew Skurka's guide company so not sure how is rating of it compares. I'm pretty sure that these are roughly the coordinates for the exit (37.72438 -111.29127). At least it is what I had on my map, but probably would be worth double checking. I found this on someone else's trip report on another site but can't quite remember where that was.
 

Janice

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Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
475
Earlier this year, I did a trip down the gulch and did that section of the escalante river between the Gulch and Horse canyon going the opposite direction you would be going. I've never done the section between Boulder Mail Trail and Hwy 12 so can't compare it to that. I thought the section of the river was going to be pretty slow going and have some bad bushwacking but it actually wasn't bad at all. There is actually a fairly decent trail through most of it. There was definitely still some bushwacking and we lost the trail a couple times but we quickly would get back on it. I also really enjoyed that section of the river as well. Maybe it was partially because I didn't have that high of expectations, but I thought that part of the canyon was very cool.

We were there in April this year and all of the crossings were pretty easy and not too deep. I don't think our 50lb dog ever even had to swim on any of the crossings and I don't remember water getting that much higher than my knees. But it was also a pretty low snow year so not sure how much higher the water would be in April if it was more of a normal snow year. The river could also just change year to year as well. I think the temperature was pretty good in April, I remember the water being a little chilly but we did wear neoprene socks for that section so it wasn't bad.

On that same trip, I had considered climbing out of the river and going up to a peak on the south side but ended up not doing it. I did run into someone along the way and they said the exit out of the canyon is pretty easy and that he had used it a few times but I didn't get a good look of the climb. Easy is definitely relative and this guy was a guide for Andrew Skurka's guide company so not sure how is rating of it compares. I'm pretty sure that these are roughly the coordinates for the exit (37.72438 -111.29127). At least it is what I had on my map, but probably would be worth double checking. I found this on someone else's trip report on another site but can't quite remember where that was.
This is so helpful - thank you so much! It's really helpful to hear what the river was like on your trip, and the coordinates are a great fit with what I was guessing based on the caltopo map I was examining. I'm remembering now that I saw your post when I was exploring the other day. I will go back and look again! Good point about "easy" being relative - I'm sure my idea of easy is different from a Skurka guide's!
 

regehr

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Mar 28, 2012
Messages
1,497
just so you know, there are various routes up on to the different bench levels from Horse and neighboring canyons. some of this is in Allen, some you just have to look for. it would generally be dry up there, but distances aren't too large...
 

Bob

Trailmaster
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Mar 3, 2013
Messages
2,851
Skur** should be taken as a general guide, and with a grain of salt.... He's in it to make $$.

The red breaks are interesting, if you are close to the cosmic astray it's worth visiting .... It's at N37° 40.978' W111° 18.953'
 

Janice

Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
475
Skur** should be taken as a general guide, and with a grain of salt.... He's in it to make $$.

The red breaks are interesting, if you are close to the cosmic astray it's worth visiting .... It's at N37° 40.978' W111° 18.953'
Thanks so much - I was just learning about the red breaks and saw great photos. Seems like it wouldn't be too hard to go from one to the other - as long as we can get back to the river for water afterward!
 

Kmatjhwy

Wilderness Wanderer
Joined
Sep 23, 2016
Messages
563
Janice, Yes I have been in this area on several occasions. Now it is easy to go up the canyon to the Gulch Area and have been back and forth in here on several occasions. But it has not been in the last few years so things could have changed. Also I have come down the Escalate all the way from the highway. At one point it became brush and the river bed kinda rocky but made it. Also have done some exploring on the bench above the Escalante that is on it's north side and east of the Gulch, it was Great! In fact have walked this bench some years ago all the way to the Boulder -Burr Trail Highway. I know where it is on the map, can't name the place right now ... But in coming down the canyon from the highway, at a certain bend and easy climb up was an old line cabin up on the bench. Really an old interesting and dilapidated place.

Now onetime many years ago entered into the Escalante Canyon to the south a short ways from Horse Canyon. I did not not use the Red Breaks. To the south a ways from Horse Canyon is a huge sand hill against the canyon wall that extends to the top. This is on the west side. I just used this and walked down the sandy slope into the canyon. But it was brush at that point along the river. Hiking along the Escalante River south is Great also. Have also hiked all of Horse Canyon, from the road to the Escalante River, which was terrific. Also in coming down the river, fall is best. Spring can be dicey depending upon the snowmelt that spring. One spring down in these parts it was so tremendous with the water that I had to give up going down canyon on account of all the water.

Hope this helps and do wish you the best!
 
Last edited:

Janice

Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
475
Janice, Yes I have been in this area on several occasions. Now it is easy to go up the canyon to the Gulch Area and have been back and forth in here on several occasions. But it has not been in the last few years so things could have changed. Also I have come down the Escalate all the way from the highway. At one point it became brush and the river bed kinda rocky but made it. Also have done some exploring on the bench above the Escalante that is on it's north side and east of the Gulch, it was Great! In fact have walked this bench some years ago all the way to the Boulder -Burr Trail Highway. I know where it is on the map, can't name the place right now ... But in coming down the canyon from the highway, at a certain bend and easy climb up was an old line cabin up on the bench. Really an old interesting and dilapidated place.

Now onetime many years ago entered into the Escalante Canyon to the south a short ways from Horse Canyon. I did not not use the Red Breaks. To the south a ways from Horse Canyon is a huge sand hill against the canyon wall that extends to the top. This is on the west side. I just used this and walked down the sandy slope into the canyon. But it was brush at that point along the river. Have also hiked all of Horse Canyon which was terrific. Also in coming down the river, fall is best. Spring can be dicey depending upon the snowmelt that spring. One spring down in these parts it was so tremendous with the water that I had to give up going down canyon on account of all the water.

Hope this helps and do wish you the best!
Thanks so much for all this info. Great to hear about your experiences!
 

John Morrow

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Joined
May 22, 2015
Messages
707
I'm interested in backpacking the Little Death Hollow/Wolverine loop and would like to extend the trip a few days. I'm wondering what it would be like to go from Little Death Hollow and Horse Canyon down to the Escalante and head upstream a bit to where the Gulch comes in, but instead of going up the Gulch head to the other (southern) side of the river and go over land to the Cosmic Ashtray/Navel/Volcano and explore the terrain in that area. I saw a 2018 trip report about this and would love additional information. A few questions:

1) Has anyone done this (and liked it) and can give tips for exiting the river and finding the structure? And did you explore other things nearby that you recommend?

2) Even if you haven't done this, do you know what the river's like between Horse Canyon and the Gulch? I've been on the Escalante between Boulder Mail Trail and Hwy 12 - how is this part similar or different from that part?

3) Or do you have alternative suggestions for extending the Little Death Hollow/Wolverine loop? I'm interested in trying off-trail routes if they're not too complicated; I'm not as confident in my route-finding skills as I'd like!

4) Would it be ok to do this in the spring (weather permitting - probably April) if this fall isn't possible?

I did something akin to what you are planning. The two ways up onto the V can be used to loop to the cosmic thing (wish there was a noble name for such a feature).

Maps on my TR on NWHikers.
http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8026933

Question 1: it is visible in the center of this pic from summit of Pk 5932 (inside the shadow of the cream colored pyramid. The whole area is awesome:
Our traverse ahead, over stone by John Morrow, on Flickr
 
Last edited:

Janice

Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
475
I did something akin to what you are planning. The two ways up onto the V can be used to loop to the cosmic thing (wish there was a noble name for such a feature).

Maps on my TR on NWHikers.
http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8026933

Question 1: it is visible in the center of this pic from summit of Pk 5932 (inside the shadow of the cream colored pyramid. The whole area is awesome:
Our traverse ahead, over stone by John Morrow, on Flickr
I had already found your NWHikers report and was showing it to my husband! I've got a vision of base camping near the river and exploring those peaks on one day, exploring the cosmic thing (I agree about its name) one day, and maybe - if we're feeling brave and capable - exploring the red breaks, before heading back up Wolverine. I think this seems like a neat trip!
 

James and Amy

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Joined
Jun 6, 2021
Messages
7
Janice,

The images you refer to were indeed taken in The Gulch area. We were on a partially cairned route up out of the canyon bottom on the west side of The Gulch saw the formations across it to the east. The route supposedly avoids a pour-off in the canyon itself. We have not seen the pour-off itself and don’t know if it is possible to pass it within the canyon. We do not know where you can climb up out of The Gulch on its east side to access the formations you would like to visit. It would be a lot of fun to explore the region and find out. As best as I can reconstruct it, the formations are at 37.76189, -111.30291 and extend up and down the east side canyon for some distance from that point.

We can’t tell you anything about your proposed alternate exits from the Escalante. There certainly must be other viable non-technical exits and again, exploring for these is part of what makes traveling in the area interesting. We can say that the exit we used was not difficult to find and was quite easy for us to climb. Our skills may be different than yours.

“the Volcano”: note that it was completely dry when we were there.

As to a route, there are so many possibilities and where to go really depends on the goals of your trip. It is really difficult to have a bad trip in the area and every time we have gone, we always see places we wish we had had the time to explore in more detail. Sometimes we go back and do that and at other times, the untraveled places on our maps draw our attention. Have a great trip.

James and Amy
 

Janice

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Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
475
exploring for these is part of what makes traveling in the area interesting. We can say that the exit we used was not difficult to find and was quite easy for us to climb. Our skills may be different than yours.
I'm sure your skills are stronger than mine! I'm hoping to develop further, and am much more open to the idea of exploring than I used to be. I'm excited to spend time in this area and appreciate your reply. Thanks!
 

wildwesthikes

Moronic Kitton Mittons
Joined
Sep 22, 2020
Messages
9
If you're going for the Cosmic Ashtray, why not just complete the loop and head cross country south-east from the ashtray across slickrock into the halfway point of Harris Wash, here: https://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=37.65071,-111.2643&z=16&b=imagery&a=cf10

Extry/Exit is class 2... maybe easy class 3. where that tight horsehshoe bend is. I was looking at it from the south bank exit at the same spot this past March. Any hiker can do it.

You'd get it done in an afternoon and have an excellent campsite by the water in Harris. Then you'd spend the next morning following Harris (easy) back to the escalante river and then a day or two upriver to the Horse/Gulch area. That will extend your trip 2, 3 days.

Look at Kelsey / Allen for details.
 

Janice

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Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
475
If you're going for the Cosmic Ashtray, why not just complete the loop and head cross country south-east from the ashtray across slickrock into the halfway point of Harris Wash, here: https://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=37.65071,-111.2643&z=16&b=imagery&a=cf10

Extry/Exit is class 2... maybe easy class 3. where that tight horsehshoe bend is. I was looking at it from the south bank exit at the same spot this past March. Any hiker can do it.

You'd get it done in an afternoon and have an excellent campsite by the water in Harris. Then you'd spend the next morning following Harris (easy) back to the escalante river and then a day or two upriver to the Horse/Gulch area. That will extend your trip 2, 3 days.

Look at Kelsey / Allen for details.
Thanks so much for the recommendation! I'll check it out - after borrowing both Kelsey and Allen from the library a lot of times, I finally ordered my own copies and should be getting them soon.
 
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