Escalante- Little Death Hollow Loop conditions?

MN dad

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First time poster here.....

My family is visiting Escalante from Minneapolis the last week of March, 2018. I am interested in backpacking Little Death Hollow/Horse/ Wolverine as a two-day loop and staying overnight near the Escalante River confluence. I understand from both my guide books and Nick’s trip guide (quote below) that the boulder jams can be either easy or tricky. We are avid hikers and don’t mind some scrambling but want to be safe. I don’t have any recent experience with ropes, etc. and would like to keep this hike non technical.

From Nicks trail guide on a Little Death Hollow: “Little Death Hollow can be relatively easy or extremely difficult depending on recent flooding or runoff. If the canyon is holding water, it may require climbing up and over some rather large obstacles where normally, you could cross under.”

So....any information on current conditions at the LDH, especially at boulder jambs, would be greatly appreciated. Over or under? Easy or difficult? I asked both BLM office and a local guide and but they had no info. Also, any other insights on this hike are most welcome.

Thanks in advance. I have really enjoyed perusing backcountrypost. It’s a great resource.
 

andyjaggy

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I don't have much information but I did do the boulder mail trial last weekend which took us down into Death Hollow for maybe a quarter mile. Water levels didn't seem very high to me, I don't think you will have too many problems.
 

MN dad

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Thanks Andy. That’s good to know.

We are doing the BMT as well. Love southern Utah!
 

Nick

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@andyjaggy this is actually about Little Death Hollow, a slot canyon over in the Circle Cliffs area, far away from the Death Hollow you just went through.

The best way to guess what conditions are going to be like without a first hand report would be to look at what the weather was like in the preceding weeks. If it's rained a lot and the canyon has flooded, then you're probably going to be in for the more difficult version of the route. If it's been warm and dry, it shouldn't be as bad. I did it in early April when there was still some ice on shaded bends of the upper canyon. The slot section was almost completely dry until a short super muddy stretch toward the end.

I think Michael Kelsey describes a route to bypass most of the section that will give you the most trouble. We looked for it when we went through and it didn't seem very easy, but we could have been looking at the wrong place. I did read another trip report once where they used that bypass and didn't seem to have much trouble. Maybe check that out.

If you do proceed through it when it's pretty wet, you'd definitely need a length of rope or webbing to get over the worst of the obstacles. And sometimes you'd be straight up swimming to get to it. This is it looking back. Usually you crawl under on the right. Otherwise you'd need to scale it and drop back down the other side.



Worst case, if you get to the drop in where the water holds, just turn around. It'll still be a nice overnighter and you'll still see a ton of gorgeous canyon.

This is where it usually tends to get wet:
 

MN dad

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Thanks so much Nick. Good advice all around.

I really appreciate the pictures. I will look again at the bypass route in Kelsey’s book per your suggestion and will bring some rope or webbing and give it a go.

As you said, worst case is still pretty good. If it too sketchy, better safe than sorry.
 

tomg

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Mar 21, 2018
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Hi
I hiked that area with my family and another family last week of march 2017. Kids were 15-17 years old. We did not do the whole little death hollow canyon due to rain. If your kids are younger, I think doing your itinerary as an overnighter could be a little ambitious. I don't think there is anything techical, but there is some tough going/wading. It is an awesome area. Alternative would be to hike wolverine to horse. Camp near little death. Do as much of little death as you want as a day hike. Then backpack out the next day. That's a two nighter!
 

MN dad

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Tom,

My twin boys are 16 and pretty athletic and seasoned so I’m not worried about distance but rather extensive wading in cold water and the difficulty of the primary boulder jamb. The consensus of both you and Nick is the degree of difficulty of the complete Loop is weather (ie water) dependent.

I really like your idea of wolverine to horse, base camping at horse and little death confluence, and exploring up little death as a day hike but, unfortunately, I may not get consensus with stretching this into three days/two nights.

We are flying out this Friday morning and I will play it by ear based on the amount of recent rain. Maybe, we could still do your plan but do it as an overnighter with an early start and a late finish. I will post once I return.

Cheers. I appreciate the feedback!
 

MN dad

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I arrived in Escalante today and stopped by the Escalante visitors center. A sign was posted on the door stating that the LDH narrows are closed until further notice due a live cow being stuck there. The very nice person at the desk told me that the cow is apparently scared and very angry and at least for now .....very much alive.

Careful planning is often trumped by the chance occurrence.

Just thought I would let everyone know.
 

Jackson

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I arrived in Escalante today and stopped by the Escalante visitors center. A sign was posted on the door stating that the LDH narrows are closed until further notice due a live cow being stuck there. The very nice person at the desk told me that the cow is apparently scared and very angry and at least for now .....very much alive.

Careful planning is often trumped by the chance occurrence.

Just thought I would let everyone know.
Yikes! I think I remember reading in a TR on here a few years ago (maybe Nick's) about there being a dead cow stuck in there before as well. Grazing cows near places like that seems like a pretty bad idea.

Great info!
 

Nick

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Yikes! I think I remember reading in a TR on here a few years ago (maybe Nick's) about there being a dead cow stuck in there before as well. Grazing cows near places like that seems like a pretty bad idea.

Great info!

3 of them on that trip actually.
 

MN dad

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My 16 year-old twin boys and I just completed the Death Hollow Loop (LDH, Horse, Wolverine) as a day hike today. We returned to our rental house in Escalante this evening both exhausted and content. While the hike was oustanding, the issue of cows getting into slot canyons really needs to be addressed.

Here’s what happened to us today.

After verifying last night that Escalante Visitor Center had taken the warning sign down about Little Death Hollow being closed due to a wayward cow, I assumed we were set and that I could concentrate on the more pedestrian tasks of finishing the hike before dark, getting teenagers out the door by 5:30 AM, etc. I assumed that the coast was clear......Bad for the cow but good for us.

While we were hiking down the middle section after LDH starts to slot up to about 5 feet across, we got a big surprise.

After hearing storting and hoof beats, my boys, who were down canyon from me by a few feet, barely (and I mean barely) scrambled up the canyon walls to avoid two adult cows and a calf charging at full speed up canyon. Due to twisting of the canyon, we could not see them coming until they were upon us. Needless to say, cows are big and almost took up most of the width of the slot!! The cows were scared to death and would have literally trampled my guys if they did not react instantly. I just managed to get to the side as well and will Love to hike another day. Joey told me the raging bovines missed him by less than a foot. I never saw my boys move that quickly for chores.

I don’t even know how the cows got past the initial rock jamb. We assumed the cow pies were from the yet to be discovered but hopefully incapacitated cow.

After collecting ourselves and laughing that it was really good mom did not witness the “running of the bulls”, we continued down LDH where we ran across the carcass of the original cow. Toby, who discovered the dead cow, whispered “There’s another cow sleeping ahead, we need to turn around.” I bravely volunteered to check it out and we all made jokes about zombie cows pretending to be dead, only to bite you as you walk past. Yup, it was dead alright and that thing is set to pop soon.

I am going to let the Visitors Center know about our experience tomorrow, but I thought this was worth posting here. Public land has multiple uses, but there has to be a way to better discourage livestock from getting into slot canyons for the sake of all parties (animals, ranchers and hikers).

The only other hikers we ran into the entire day, a young couple from Washington state, also had a similar experience to ours yesterday evening. There were about nine or so cars when arrived at the trailhead at 7:30 AM, so I am guessing others might have gotten a scare as well.

At the end of the day we all agreed LDH Loop was totally awesome, but eventually I fear that someone is going get seriously hurt or worse.

BTW- LDH is currently passable as long as you are willing to get wet above your knees. Minor scrambling and no real high water. Highly recommended!
 

Nick

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My 16 year-old twin boys and I just completed the Death Hollow Loop (LDH, Horse, Wolverine) as a day hike today. We returned to our rental house in Escalante this evening both exhausted and content. While the hike was oustanding, the issue of cows getting into slot canyons really needs to be addressed.

Here’s what happened to us today.

After verifying last night that Escalante Visitor Center had taken the warning sign down about Little Death Hollow being closed due to a wayward cow, I assumed we were set and that I could concentrate on the more pedestrian tasks of finishing the hike before dark, getting teenagers out the door by 5:30 AM, etc. I assumed that the coast was clear......Bad for the cow but good for us.

While we were hiking down the middle section after LDH starts to slot up to about 5 feet across, we got a big surprise.

After hearing storting and hoof beats, my boys, who were down canyon from me by a few feet, barely (and I mean barely) scrambled up the canyon walls to avoid two adult cows and a calf charging at full speed up canyon. Due to twisting of the canyon, we could not see them coming until they were upon us. Needless to say, cows are big and almost took up most of the width of the slot!! The cows were scared to death and would have literally trampled my guys if they did not react instantly. I just managed to get to the side as well and will Love to hike another day. Joey told me the raging bovines missed him by less than a foot. I never saw my boys move that quickly for chores.

I don’t even know how the cows got past the initial rock jamb. We assumed the cow pies were from the yet to be discovered but hopefully incapacitated cow.

After collecting ourselves and laughing that it was really good mom did not witness the “running of the bulls”, we continued down LDH where we ran across the carcass of the original cow. Toby, who discovered the dead cow, whispered “There’s another cow sleeping ahead, we need to turn around.” I bravely volunteered to check it out and we all made jokes about zombie cows pretending to be dead, only to bite you as you walk past. Yup, it was dead alright and that thing is set to pop soon.

I am going to let the Visitors Center know about our experience tomorrow, but I thought this was worth posting here. Public land has multiple uses, but there has to be a way to better discourage livestock from getting into slot canyons for the sake of all parties (animals, ranchers and hikers).

The only other hikers we ran into the entire day, a young couple from Washington state, also had a similar experience to ours yesterday evening. There were about nine or so cars when arrived at the trailhead at 7:30 AM, so I am guessing others might have gotten a scare as well.

At the end of the day we all agreed LDH Loop was totally awesome, but eventually I fear that someone is going get seriously hurt or worse.

BTW- LDH is currently passable as long as you are willing to get wet above your knees. Minor scrambling and no real high water. Highly recommended!

COWS!!!! Glad you still got to enjoy the hike. Thanks for reporting back and letting everyone know!
 

MN dad

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Python- “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!” I certainly wasn’t expecting cows!
 

WasatchWill

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....After collecting ourselves and laughing that it was really good mom did not witness the “running of the bulls”, we continued down LDH where we ran across the carcass of the original cow. Toby, who discovered the dead cow, whispered “There’s another cow sleeping ahead, we need to turn around.” I bravely volunteered to check it out and we all made jokes about zombie cows pretending to be dead, only to bite you as you walk past. Yup, it was dead alright and that thing is set to pop soon.

I am going to let the Visitors Center know about our experience tomorrow, but I thought this was worth posting here. Public land has multiple uses, but there has to be a way to better discourage livestock from getting into slot canyons for the sake of all parties (animals, ranchers and hikers)...

That's a dead horse...er...dead cow that's been beaten long and hard here on this forum. Glad you all were unscathed and still enjoyed the rest of the hike. Hopefully the rangers at the VC took your feedback seriously.
 

MN dad

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Thanks WW!! I imagine this is a much discussed topic on the forum. In addition to the cows, we had to shimmy under a barbed wire fence at the end of Wolverine, a first for me.

I did visit the VC the next day. The ranger submitted a written report and seemed to take it seriously. I just wanted to establish some formal record.

Fortunately, we all loved the LDH Loop hike. My boys and I will tell the story of the rampaging cows for years to come. Every time we pass a field of cows, we joke of them plotting our demise as “ the ones that got away.” (Bovine drone strikes, IEDs, etc.) “We swear..... we did not shoot your friend!”

Of all the hikes we did over the past week after including Golden Cathedral, BMT and backpacking Coyote Gulch, day hiking LDH Loop was the boys’ favorite....hands down.
 
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