Death Hollow from the Boulder Mail Trail

Jackson

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May 5-8, 2017

I finished my last exam and I was free. I got together with two friends and we headed down for a weekend of camping and backpacking. We stopped in Torrey for dinner at Slackers, then we headed to find camp for the night on Boulder Mountain. Fortunately, all of the lower reaches were snow free, so we found a great spot pretty close to the town of Boulder. We got the tent set up and checked out our surroundings. I love being in the ponderosa pine forest. Those trees are awesome.


We found this nice stream where we topped off our water.


On our way back to camp, we realized there was a cow carcass about 75 yards from our camp site. Very decayed. I refrained from taking any pictures.

The sun went down and the mosquitoes came out. They were pretty fierce. I was surprised they were already out in such force.


The morning was the biggest challenge, for me anyway. We got up and broke camp. Then, we headed down to the Boulder airstrip. We had brought my road bike to do a shuttle of sorts. So I took Mike's car with my road bike on the back, left Mike and Gavin at the airstrip trailhead, and went down to drop the car at the bridge over the Escalante and ride back. I haven't ridden much since high school, so in spite of it only being around 10 miles, that was one tough ride. Pretty good incline. Better to do it on the first day than the last day though.

So I got back to the trailhead very tired, but feeling accomplished. Locked up the bike and we set out. I love big slickrock expanses.




It was only 75 that day, but the sun really sucked the energy out of us.

We got closer to the drop into Death Hollow, and a storm was blowing in.



The clouds got darker (I didn't darken them here).


Then, of course, the storm hit us while we were descending. I hustled to get down. The wind was throwing sand and other debris in my face, and the rain started to come down pretty heavily as we got down closer to the canyon bottom.




We took refuge in the big alcove and just relaxed for 45 minutes or so as the storm blew over. We inspected the Twitchell inscription and mused about how cowboys etched such neat letters into sandstone. I don't know why I failed to photograph it.

After the sun came back out, we headed out and went straight for the creek. Wading through was excellent. It helped me keep out of the poison ivy, which is good because my skin reacts pretty badly when it comes in contact with the leaves. I didn't take any pictures until we got to camp because I didn't want to ruin my camera in the water.

We found a great camp site in the white sand. It was very windy that evening, and it looked like it could rain sometime overnight. We had planned on cowboy camping, and I had brought a tent in case of rain, but no one else had. Since there were three of us, I had the chance to really put my StratoSpire 2 to the test. We pitched it without stakes since the sand was so loose, and since the 3 of us wouldn't fit in the mesh insert, we pitched it without the insert. It turned out to be pretty a pretty hardy shelter.


We ate, hung out until it was pretty dark, and then we went to bed. It didn't rain overnight, but there were some strong gusts. We were glad we had the tent.

In the morning, we got going pretty early. It was nice wading for quite a ways, and we moved pretty quickly through. We stopped periodically throughout the day to dump sand out of our shoes.



We made it to a pool, but it was in the shade and the day was still fairly cool. Gavin and I jumped in a few times anyway. That water was frigid, but I don't regret it.


We got moving again.



Then we reached the narrows. Going around the deep sections was more difficult than I anticipated, but it was very enjoyable.



We carried on, passing through the very pretty lower section of the canyon, and, once again, I didn't take any pictures. There were so many cool pools and potholes and such. We passed a few groups who had come in from Highway 12.

We reached the Escalante and headed east. We started looking for a camp site after a while, and we settled on a spot maybe 5 miles from the trailhead. We ate and lounged around, tired from the day's walk. The skies started getting dark, and the wind picked up. Looked like another storm was headed our way. We had seen in the forecast that there was a chance that it would get cold and storm on and off that night (with snow possibly falling in Boulder), and that started to weigh on our minds. We asked ourselves whether we'd rather chance it and camp or whether we'd rather just hike out and head home. Once the thunder got closer and the temperature started to drop, we opted to hike out. So we packed quickly and headed for the bridge. We made pretty good time, and because of the clouds, the sunset was pretty cool. The mosquitoes came out and crashed the party, so we put on some bug spray and booked it outta there.



On the drive out, we saw lots of lightning headed for where we would've been, so we tried using that convince ourselves we made the right call. Either way, it was an awesome trip.
 
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Dave

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#2
Looks like a great hike, bugs notwithstanding.
 
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#5
Nice TR and pics.
I always want to be right in the lightning but I'm vehicle camping. The monsoon is coming.
 

Jackson

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Nice TR and pics.
I always want to be right in the lightning but I'm vehicle camping. The monsoon is coming.
Yeah, storms in the wilderness sure are awesome. Assuming you're not on top of a ridge or something!
 

WasatchWill

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#9
Great photos...for the ones you took. ;) Awesome to see how your Stratosphere worked out for 3 people and no stakes.
 

Jackson

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Thread starter #10
Great photos...for the ones you took. ;) Awesome to see how your Stratosphere worked out for 3 people and no stakes.
Thanks!
I was pretty excited to pitch it that way. We actually had to tie big rocks to the corners, bury them in sand, then place big rocks on top of them. We first tried keeping the rocks on top of the sand, but the wind was so strong that when it got under the tent, it lifted up a few of the rocks and screwed up the pitch. I'm hoping I don't have to deal with that too often!
 

WasatchWill

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#11
Thanks!
I was pretty excited to pitch it that way. We actually had to tie big rocks to the corners, bury them in sand, then place big rocks on top of them. We first tried keeping the rocks on top of the sand, but the wind was so strong that when it got under the tent, it lifted up a few of the rocks and screwed up the pitch. I'm hoping I don't have to deal with that too often!
Smart thinking!
 

panielsen

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#13
So did you end up only spending one night on your hike. I am trying to decide if camping 2 or 3 nights would be best. Thanksl
 

Jackson

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Thread starter #14
So did you end up only spending one night on your hike. I am trying to decide if camping 2 or 3 nights would be best. Thanksl
Yeah, just one night. We had planned on 2, but for reasons stated above, we decided to hike out early.

3 nights would give you plenty of time to goof around out there. I think, for me at least, 2 nights would be optimal. Largely depends on your normal pace as well.

Be sure to come back and write up a trip report on here after your trip!
 

Jackson

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Thread starter #16
I'd like to know about conditions now this being a dry year.
Maybe a slightly lower flow, but I'd imagine there's still miles of wading. Would be pretty cold!

You can check the flow of the Escalante near the town of Escalante and look at it historically, just as a very rough estimate of how the watershed is doing. It's maybe slightly lower than where it was last year, but not by much. I'd bet the summer is when things will get really bad over there.
 

Miya

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#17
Thanks for sharing your adventure! Looked gorgeous!

I probably would have taken a pic of the cow carcass. I have a thing for the macabre :p, but then it probably would have made me tear up too. Lol
 

LarryBoy

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#18
+1 on it being cold. Death hollow flows off of boulder mtn, so that's all high elevation snowmelt. Seems unpleasant this time of year.
 
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#19
Great report and pics @Jackson. Love that one of the storm.
 

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