Escalante Route - Grand Canyon in late May 2017

apache

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6 guys. Ages 35-40. Half with backpacking experience, half without. All in reasonably good shape, none more than a little overweight.

We'd like to tackle the Escalante Route in late May 2017. I've read up on it and some people say it's somewhat sketchy and may not be suitable for first-time backpackers.

Thoughts?
 

b.stark

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Here's my trip report of that route, from Lipan Point to Grandview Point. https://backcountrypost.com/threads/a-grand-adventure-grand-canyon-2016.6045/ We did this last April. I thought it was a very fun route. I've done quite a bit of "interesting" off trail stuff in the high mountains before, so nothing on this route really sketched me out at all, though I could see parts being challenging. The Papago wall and slide were not for scaredy-cats, and some parts of the trail were plenty rough. It would sure be a tough first backpacking trip. We did the route in 6 days.
 
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Nick

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I've never done it, but I've done enough backpacking with noobs to say that there's no way in hell that should be their first trip. Ease 'em in!
 

Ben

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you know how hot it will be right. the one time that i visited the Grand Canyon in May we hiked out the Tanner Trail. and we waited until 8 pm to start the hike out, and then got up at 5 am to finish it. i'd say more than half of that hike out was done by head lamp. in my opinion the sketchy factor is pretty low, though there are a few feet of hand and toe climbing. i did it alone and with my pack on. besides the technical difficulty though, i feel like i need to restate the concern regarding the heat. it is extremely unlikely that you will find water along the Escalante route other than the Colorado it's self. several miles (5-6) of the route are away from the river, and very exposed to the sun, from Cardenas 'Creek' to Escalante 'Creek'. you will find very very little shade along the entirety of the route. park info gives the average high temp in may in the inner canyon as 92 degrees. if you want more info on the technical aspects of the hike, google 'papago wall' and 'papago slide' for images and others' reports. i think the important question how ever is whether this a trip that you and your group will enjoy.
 

b.stark

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The heat and water issues are good ones to bring up, too. On our first night we camped above the redwall, so most of us were carrying nearly 8 liters of water to start off with. The Colorado and Hance creek were our water sources during the trip, although you can stop at Page/Miner's spring on the way up to Horseshoe Mesa. I don't think I ever started a day carrying less than 4 liters of water. Our weather was pretty good, but in April the afternoon highs were probably at least high 80s, and it's true there are some good stretches of trail with little shade. We typically made it to camp at 3-4 in the afternoon and spent the rest of the afternoon rehydrating and finding whatever ways to cool off that we could. We were fortunate in that the Colorado was running clear as it ever does while we were there. It can be very muddy, which makes getting water more difficult as you pretty much have to let the silt settle out of the water before further purifying it for drinking. And after getting to camp I typically made about 6 liters of water and sometimes had to re-supply in the morning before starting hiking. The only cold weather we encountered was in about the last hour of hiking out, where a storm came through and dropped some very cold rain and sleet.
 
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