Death Hollow In the Spring

Kyle P

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Hey All,

Last year a buddy and I were looking at hiking Death Hollow in early fall but were advised against that do to the heat that covers the area. So we are now trying to get back out this spring to give it a go. I am thinking about going in the April - June time range, but my question for you all is: What would be the best time to go to a place like that?

We want to avoid going too early so that being cold when traversing the river is not a concern. But obviously don't want to go too late with the heat becoming a factor.

We have always done our hiking in the Colorado/Wyoming mountains, so this will be a first for us in Utah. With that said, maybe I should have started off with asking what would the best introduction to Utah canyons be for people new to the area? For right now I have chosen Death Hollow purely from reading trip reports, but maybe there are some better places out there.

Thanks in advance for any help!

Kyle

Edit to add: We are looking at about a five day hike.
 
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BJett

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I've been through DH 4 times, all in April/late May. Never had to swim (I've never done top down, always from the Boulder Mail Trail at the airstrip) but that can change week to week depending on rain/runoff. Cold wading for the most part, it doesn't really slot up (narrows don't last too long) so there is plenty of sun. If you come from the top you will be swimming, others can chime in on that part of the canyon.
You can't beat spring in the canyon country.

I take people on this trip to introduce them to Plateau backpacking. Its a top 10 for sure.
5 days would be plenty, I always do it in 2 nights, last trip we did 3. Take the side trip to Mamie Creek on the Boulder Mail Trail, check out Mamie Natural Bridge. The views from the top of these canyons are incredible.
 

Kyle P

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I take people on this trip to introduce them to Plateau backpacking. Its a top 10 for sure.
5 days would be plenty, I always do it in 2 nights, last trip we did 3. Take the side trip to Mamie Creek on the Boulder Mail Trail, check out Mamie Natural Bridge. The views from the top of these canyons are incredible.

Thanks BJett!

After looking some more I was actually planning on making this about a 3 day hike and then spending another two days somewhere else in the area. So your thoughts on it being a little shorter might work out well.

As far as Mamie Natural Bridge goes, do you follow Death Hollow until the confluence with Mamie Creek and then follow that back up to the bridge? Or does the Boulder Mail Trail run into Death Hollow earlier on and you can take that out of the canyon over to the bridge?
 

BJett

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You take the BMT out of Death Hollow, follow the cairns up and over until you get to Mamie Creek. Follow Mamie downstream until you see the bridge. Its a solid day hike.
 

Nick

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April can be cold, just depends on what weather you get. May is a safer bet. Almost any of the other canyons of the Escalante make great backpacking trips. The lower you go, the warmer and greener things are in the spring. Death Hollow is unique in that it has far more water than any of the others so you're often shin to knee deep or more. It's generally cooler water than the other canyons so it is more enjoyable in hotter weather. The overland hike in can be unpleasant in the heat and so can the slog out of the Escalante, but it's not bad.
 

Kyle P

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Thanks for the info guys. It looks like we will plan for the second week of May then as that works best timing wise for us.

One more question, I see that when wading, people often just wear their hiking shoes. I have a pair of trail runners that I wear when hiking. Is there anything special anyone does for this as far as types of shoes go? Or am I good just wearing my trail runners?

Thanks!
 

BJett

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I've been wearing the Teva Churn water shoe for my canyon exploits, I prefer lightweight footwear that drains but has mesh.
 

Nick

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Most people I hike with just wear an older pair of lightweight hiking shoes that drain well. I've always used something like the FiveTen Canyoneer for Death Hollow but they certainly aren't needed. Anything that drains well and keeps sand and debris out will do fine. Neoprene socks can be a good addition if you run cold or are doing it in the cooler times of the year.
 

Bob

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June is the best bet........... May can still get high water and cold weather :cold::cold:
 

Artemus

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If you start at the top and due the full enchilada DH descent it is a whole different deal with some serious swimming and cold. @Bob didn't you post the TR of our descent? 2 of 4 got really, really cold.
 

Bob

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Thought I did......maybe not...... would have left out some gory details....
 

Kyle P

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If you start at the top and due the full enchilada DH descent it is a whole different deal with some serious swimming and cold. @Bob didn't you post the TR of our descent? 2 of 4 got really, really cold.

I did see Bob's trip report on DH. Judging by the time stamp on it, they did the trip in late April/early May. So that we can get a couple days in at another location in the Utah country, I don't think we would do the full length DH trail like they did. But we definitely want to wait till it is warm enough so we can avoid the cold. That is probably my main concern, is going too early and are cold the whole time.
 

Kyle P

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What is your experience with Poison Ivey?

I have noticed poison ivy gets mentioned a lot in that area. I have spent all my life in the outdoors, in and around poison ivy, and have never gotten it in my life. I have walked through it with others and they get covered in rashes, but not a rash on me. So I am not sure if I am immune to it somehow? My dad used to be the same way, and then a couple years ago he finally started getting it. Seems like the hike would be the most likely point for me to start getting it just to prove Murphy's Law.

I have had hundreds of chigger bites before though so I feel like I definitely know what its like to want to scratch your legs off.
 

Joey

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Yeah, it seems to be hit and miss with everyone. And people who have never had a problem with it suddenly do.

Just know that it is all over the place there. But you can avoid it by walking in the creek. There are use trails in some areas that go right through chest high patches of it.

Its a beautiful canyon. Definitely a great choice for your first backpack in Utah.
 

Bob

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I rarely get it...... trip last year I got a 2" spot on my arm. rRaction can vary people to people, season to seaon or even area to area depending on many factors. Spring is one of the most potent times when it is just coming out of dormancy.
 

Kyle P

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Update on our planning (and looking for input)

We will be heading to Utah (from Kansas City/Omaha) in the middle of May and below is our itenerary. Please let me know if there is something we should add, or if there is too much on any one day. Myself as well as my two buddies have never been to Utah so are really looking to get as much as we can out of a week-long trip!

Day 1: Drive to Denver after work and stay at a friends place.

Day 2: Drive to Moab/Arches National Park and explore. Is there anywhere else we should check out around here? We plan on camping in this area, so if anyone has any good recommendations on camping, that would be awesome!

Day 3: I need to get my fly fishing fix in. So we will head up to Boulder Mountain for fly fishing and camp.

Day 4: Head down to Tunnel/Zebra/Peek-a-Boo slots and check out some slot canyons. (Thanks to Scott Chandler for the awesome trip report on this area :)). Start the hike into Death Hollow by the old airport. Plan time in for attempting to hitch a ride after dropping the car off at the bottom of the hike. Set up camp once inside Death Hollow.

Day 5: Check out Maimie Creek and end the day near the confluence with the Escalante River

Day 6: End the day near the confluence with Sand Creek and explore Sand Creek.

Day 7: Hike out and get on the road back home. Camp somewhere in Colorado.

Day 8: Return home

As I stated above, the main reason I wanted to post this out here is to see if we are missing anything major we need to check out while in Utah. My biggest question lies with the Moab/Arches area. We just added that to our list of things to do and I haven't yet jumped into scouting the area out.

Hopefully I also have made our days inside Death Hollow/Escalante short enough so that we will have plenty of time to relax and explore the area.

Thanks in advance for any help! Getting pretty anxious for May to get here!

Kyle
 

BJett

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Your day 4 sounds like about 3 days worth. Way too much, if you explore the Escalante slots just stay down there for a night or chill in Escalante for pizza and beer...don't attempt to do all that, set up shuttle and try to hike into DH from the airstrip in a day. You won't really be able to enjoy much if you are moving 100 mph trying to squeeze it all in.
Allow for more time in DH. Another day for sure. Don't rush that place.
 

Nick

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Whoa, you're planning on doing Tunnel, Zebra and the dry fork slots and then go hike all the way into Death Hollow and setup camp? No way. And more time in DH is needed too. I'd scrap the tunnel/zebra/peekaboo plan altogether. Or better yet, ditch Moab and do tunnel and zebra. Doing those plus dry fork in one day is possible, but it's certainly moving.
 
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