Death Hollow Escalante Area

gloo

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Jan 22, 2012
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I'm trying to see if I can put together a 3 day (2 night) backpacking trip in early May. I'm really drawn to Nick's trip reports from this area and would really like to try it out. It seems perfect - dog friendly, plenty of water and scenery and seemingly not too busy. and most importantly - seemingly good for a backpacking beginner. I'm going to take one of my good buddies who has done tons of camping with me but no backpacking before. He's backpacking to havasupi falls later in May with me so I feel like this could be a good introduction for him. Would you all (ahem, nick) agree this would be a solid option?

Looking at the trip report and maps - I'm looking at starting at the Escalante Town Trailhead, camping at the death hollow Escalante Confluence for night 1. I'd like to end at the
Hwy 12 Bridge Trailhead on day 3.
I'm just unsure what to do for the second night - I'd like to make it a full backpacking trip so I was wondering if there's anything just a few miles up death hollow that's good to camp at? An easy day two going up there leaving a large chunk of the day to relax and explore would be really nice. Then on day 3 turn around, head back to the confluence and head towards the hwy 12 trailhead. Sound like a good plan? A good alternate plan is to just stay at the same camp at the confluence for 2 nights and during day 2 just explore and relax.
also, have you done car or bike shuttles? What is the appx mileage from spot to spot that?
Nick's TR that sounds close to what I want to do
Nick's Map
 

Bill

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Jan 17, 2012
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May seems a bit early to Death Hollow.... am I wrong or would the water be high and still freezing cold?

There's a "sneak route" near Micro Death hollow that will cut off miles of sand slogging in the Escalante River gorge. I've never done it but I hear there's a bit of exposure and a lot of people use that route.
 

gloo

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Jan 22, 2012
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May seems a bit early to Death Hollow.... am I wrong or would the water be high and still freezing cold?

There's a "sneak route" near Micro Death hollow that will cut off miles of sand slogging in the Escalante River gorge. I've never done it but I hear there's a bit of exposure and a lot of people use that route.

interesting I'll have to check it out. one of Nick's TR's is from the last week of April so I think it will be fine. I did muddy creek around the same time last year and it was plenty warm
 

Nick

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Great option all around, especially for a beginner.

First off, early May is just fine. Honestly, I'd say that May and September are probably the best months of the year there.

As far as runoff, the upper Escalante never gets too high other than flood events, especially with the low snow pack this year. Death Hollow stays quite consistent and shouldn't be a problem either. I've done it in March, April, May, June and September and even when the Escalante was raging, Death was pretty much the same, around ankle to knee deep, and always crystal clear. On one of the trips the lower Escalante was swift but nothing to worry about. The dogs struggled a little bit at times so definitely have a leash and a secure collar or harness ready to put into action. Trekking poles would be helpful too.

If I were you, I would do one of these two options.

1. Spend both nights in lower Death Hollow. I'll tell you where a fine campsite is. Spend your middle day exploring up into the narrows of Death Hollow. It is an awesome hike. Or just spend the afternoon swimming and enjoying the many pools and waterfalls. The next day, pack up and hike the 7-8 miles out to the Highway 12 bridge. This would be my preferred itinerary. Death Hollow warrants a lot of time.

2. Spend one night in lower Death, spend the second night in lower Sand Creek. Sand Creek isn't nearly as cool as Death but it's still nice. There is a nice spring at the mouth and okay camping in the lower reaches. There is also a pretty cool archaeological site not far up from the bottom.

Doing the shuttle with a bike would be tough as you would have to climb all the way out of the Escalante River Gorge and back to the town of Escalante. Lots of uphill. If you're a strong biker that might not be too bad but will take some time. We've had mixed results hitchhiking from that spot. One time we got picked up right away heading into Escalante, the other we had to eventually hire a shuttle.

Either way, if you plan to camp at or near Death Hollow. Hit me up in a private conversation and I'll explain how to get to one of the finest campsites I know.

Make sure you pack for wet feet. You'll be in the water nearly 100% of the time in Death Hollow. On the Escalante, it's constantly in and out for the top half then mostly crossing benches with occasional crossings on the bottom half. The upper half of the Escalante is more dramatic and narrow, the lower section is wider but still extraordinarily beautiful with a couple of nice arches and a cliff dwelling along the way. With the side trip up into Death Hollow, it is a 5-star backpack in my book.
 

Jammer

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Feb 23, 2012
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I concur with Nick's points -- especially re: weather and re: spending both nights in Death Hollow at "the camp".

Note -- if you don't want to mess with a shuttle, you can also do a loop back to Escalante via the Mail Trail. I've done this exact loop with a beginner and it was a great trip. The major downside to this plan is that you are going up through the narrows with your big packs.

- Jamal
 

Nick

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Note -- if you don't want to mess with a shuttle, you can also do a loop back to Escalante via the Mail Trail. I've done this exact loop with a beginner and it was a great trip. The major downside to this plan is that you are going up through the narrows with your big packs.

That sounds like a fun route. I didn't think going through the narrows was bad with packs, at least coming downstream. What is the BMT like west of Death Hollow? Similar to the east side with loads of slickrock or more sand slogging?
 

Bigred72

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Mar 14, 2012
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The water flow is currently in the 76-90 percentile at the two gauging stations in Escalante. I did it last year at the end of June with a group of scouts when it was in the 90% plus and it still was good. As Nick said, Death Hollow is pretty steady as far as water flow goes. I use this site for all water flow data:

http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/?m=real&r=ut
 

Jammer

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What is the BMT like west of Death Hollow? Similar to the east side with loads of slickrock or more sand slogging?

I liked it. I haven't done the other side of the Mail Trail, but it looks very similar in the photos I've seen and how it crosses the stretches of slickrock. The Antone Flat area did have a stretch of flat sand -- but it wasn't too bad. It was cool when I did it, so opnions may differ if it's a hot summer day! Maime Creek will normally have at least potholes of water. There's a natural bridge there too down the drainage a ways.

- Jamal
 

gloo

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Jan 22, 2012
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Excellent, you guys are an amazing resource. Nick - I think I'm sold on staying at death hollow 2 nights. Really hoping I can make time to get out. I'd be squeezing this in right after finals, not a huge window but I'm itching to get out as much as possible.

I'm not a super strong biker but as long as the hills aren't death it looks like its just a 16 or 17ish mile ride, and if I do the bike shuttle before we head out I don't think it'll be too bad. We'll see though, I might have to look into that as it gets closer/more solid plans.

Jammer, so that loop route you're talking about if I understand correctly I'd camp at death hollow, travel up it, escape out and hike back to escalate via the top, right? I need to get myself some good detailed maps so I can study them better..
 

Jammer

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Jammer, so that loop route you're talking about if I understand correctly I'd camp at death hollow, travel up it, escape out and hike back to escalate via the top, right? I need to get myself some good detailed maps so I can study them better..

That's correct. Detailed maps will help, but really the route is fairly well traveled so the parts across dirt/sand are well worn and the stretches across slickrock are cairned. There's also the old telegraph wire out there which always keeps one on track. The trickiest part of the route might be spotting where it exits Death Hollow. BTW -- there is another good camp right across from where the trail exits in case you wanted to spend a night there. Camping in the Maime drainage area would be nice too -- though the water not as awesome.

If I get a chance I'll go back and do a trip report for when I did this a few years ago. It's just one of many old write-ups I want to get up on my site and share here too.

- Jamal
 

Bill

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I'm not a super strong biker but as long as the hills aren't death it looks like its just a 16 or 17ish mile ride, and if I do the bike shuttle before we head out I don't think it'll be too bad. We'll see though, I might have to look into that as it gets closer/more solid plans.

Whats dates will you be down there? I have some tentative Escalante plans in May so I could save you a death ride.

Whats with everyone's lack of love of the sneak route? The view up there is amazing and its only 1.75 miles to Death Hollow.


Micro Death by megascapes, on Flickr
 

Nick

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I wouldn't say there's no love for the Sneak Route. I considered using it on my town to bridge trip in 2010 but we wanted a longer hike and a point-to-point. If I were debating riding a bike out of the Escalante Gorge like gloo is, I would seriously consider using the sneak route. Perhaps drop a car here (high clearance might be needed), then ride your bike back to the town trailhead. Start there, go spend two nights exploring up into Death then hike out the sneak route. That would be way better, IMO than riding your bike out of the Escalante gorge.

I wouldn't recommend using it for both in and out though. The upper Escalante River Gorge is a beautiful place with a very unique character. And it's crazy easy hiking so that 8 miles to Death Hollow won't be much trouble.

Here's Tom's description on the Death Hollow Sneak Route:
http://canyoneeringusa.com/utah/esca/micro.htm
 

gloo

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Jan 22, 2012
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well, my plans are to head down there early thursday morning and finish up Saturday night, and hope to hitch hike back to escalante
from hwy 12 that evening.

Does anyone know a quick quiet informal car camping spot around there we could stay at the night before we head home Sunday morning?
 

intuitive cat

Jurassic Dust in my Bones
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Mar 9, 2012
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i've been down on the escalante a few times over the last week dayhiking. water is only a couple of feet deep at most at the crossings near the hwy 12 bridge.
in terms of post hike camping...something on hole in the rock (i know a few forum users know good spots) or you could drive back towards the river just past head of the rocks to the spencer flats/old sheffield road area (note that fires are not allowed except in firepans on old sheffield road). I know Summit has camped at a nice spot between the hwy and the escalante river just west of Head of the Rocks overlook - that would be the most informal spot along the highway.
i work til 6:30 on saturdays, but if you think you are going to hit the hwy 12 trailhead later than that, we could possibly work out something in terms of a shuttle - i'd offer to do a shuttle on thursday morning so you could leave the car at hwy 12 and i could drop you on the other side but i am working that morning.

That sounds like a fun route. I didn't think going through the narrows was bad with packs, at least coming downstream. What is the BMT like west of Death Hollow? Similar to the east side with loads of slickrock or more sand slogging?
Antone Flat, which is the high area west of Death Hollow, is a favorite stomping grounds of one of my local primitive skills friends. he says it is amazing up there (have yet to get there myself).

the main problem with navigating the way out of Death Hollow tends to be with people heading east who miss the climb up to the BMT and head too far up canyon - a problem you will not have to worry about.
 
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