Escalante to Moab

Jammer

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Feb 23, 2012
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641
Hello all --

I'm excited to announce that I'm getting ready to take off on another long hike across a stretch of southern Utah. I didn't think I was going to be able to get out this spring, but after a recent turn of events it looks like I'm going to be able to get away. I'd normally never think about attempting a trip with such short notice, but... it's basically the second half of the hike I bailed on last year after that unfortunate incident with my toe. So... much of the planning/homework was already done. I've also had langutah helping me out with some route recon and intuitive cat consulting on the recent weather -- much appreciated all around.

So... if all goes like I hope, I'll be headed out about the first of May. My actual starting spot is still to be determined. I don't really want to start back at Little Death Hollow just to head east from there. So, I'm thinking about starting on Boulder Mountain and descending Steep Creek if the snow isn't a problem. I don't want to mess with any snow/ice/mud to begin, so if the weather doesn't look good then I'll probably start farther down Hwy 12 at the river or maybe the scenic area near the head of Phipps Canyon. From there highlights will include:
  • Upper Gulch
  • Upper Muley Twist
  • Tarantula Mesa
  • Copper Ridge (Henry Mts.)
  • Poison Spring Canyon
  • Happy Canyon
  • Hans Flat
  • The Maze
  • Needles North
  • Indian Creek
  • Hatch Point
  • Behind the Rocks
  • Moab (ok... not a highlight, just the end!)
It should be about 300 miles in about 17 days if all goes as planned. But of course... when does anything like this go exactly as planned?! We will see how it all shapes up. The only thing for sure is that I'm excited! :)

BTW -- in the coming weeks I might be pinging y'all for some additional insight and thoughts on route variations. Thanks in advance.

- Jamal
 

slc_dan

Desert Rat-Weekend Warrior
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Jun 7, 2012
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I'm an avid follower of yours. I'm excited to see this develop.

Darren will have better info, but driving up and over from the Burr trail and over Boulder Mountain, the snow looked to be mostly gone.
 

Nick

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Aug 9, 2007
Messages
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Very cool, Jamal. As usual I am in total awe of your plans. I'd love to pick your brain for 4-7 day 'sections' from your big hikes that you've done and really liked. I'd really like to do something about that length on the CP to see if I'd be up for something longer. Maybe someday work my way up to some of this kind of awesomeness.

Let me know if I can help at all with any logistics. :)
 

Jammer

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Feb 23, 2012
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641
Just curious how you plan on the river crossing. Hoping to hitch a ride?

Yep, I was contemplating a packraft -- but that just seemed like too much effort for this outing. So, I'm hooking up with the crew from Tex's Riverways again. They will give me a ride across as well as bring me a re-supply that I mail to them. As long as they are already there to pick up floaters, they do this for me for free -- I just tip the guide.

BTW -- I was thinking about having some people join me for the last leg. It doesn't look like it will happen, but I found out that Tex's will give people a one-way ride on the jetboat for $50 (again assuming they are already making the trip.) So... for future reference that could make for a good shuttle for a nice 4-6 day hike back to Moab!

- Jamal
 

Laura

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Oct 1, 2012
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Wow, I can't wait for the trip report! Have a wonderful adventure :twothumbs:
 

Artemus

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Jun 25, 2012
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SUMMARY (of my solo recon trip las weekend)

Well Jam it is taking a little while to get the data composed, I had two friends running the Boston yesterday. Thank goodness they are alright.

Here is a quick summary of my recon. I debated putting up details here but some are interested and others can read what they want. Apologies for boring the rest.

A) Snow on top to start: Not a problem
B) Water on my recon - none
C) A way down from the rim above UMT - none I could find.

Details following. I have to admit that I got wind blasted and didn't finish my recon like I would have wanted. I tried to camp on top of the Reef but winds were 30G50 (30 gusting 50 mph) and got beat up when I holed up in my tent for a couple of hours on top of the reef even though I was tethered downwind of an ancient juniper. I had to bail and move to UMT canyon for the wind shelter and still got blasted. It was great fun putting up my ultralight tent and taking it down and then putting it back up in that "breeze" Yahoo! I was also still suffering from my cold and "la touristas" I had all week as well, and a heavy dry camp pack, and.. well you get the picture. So I could only recon extensively above the Strike Valley Overlook and on Sunday I walked to the south end of the Rim Trail and walked it out about a mile and a half in the time I had. Sorry I couldn't get the whole Rim Trail covered.
 

Artemus

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Jun 25, 2012
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SNOW for the start

I drove the Boulder Mtn hwy 12 coming south from Torry. There is very little snow left on Boulder mountain. The road sides are only covered right at the summit. The ground around the Steep Creek overlook where you wanted to start is mostly snow-free. In fact, you would have to go out of your way to find snow to step in. I had a view down about 500' and 1/4 of a mile down the drainage and it just got even drier. And that was last Friday. I met up with intuitive cat in Boulder and we consulted. I think snow is a non-issue. slc_dan agrees.
 

Artemus

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WATER

I hiked a good part of the Reef at the Strike Valley overlook, I hiked much of the canyon bottom in UMT and I hiked some of the Rim Trail and found virtually no water. A few wet spots and two tiny potholes in a swale up on the overlook section of the Reef with a couple of gallons each. Plan on nothing in UMT and be really surprised if you find any. This is with the caveat that I didn't walk the entire UMT trail due to the circumstances I outlined earlier. There was snow and significant precip. in the area, confirmed by intuitive cat the week before and there was still no water.

I've heard there is water in the Onion Beds or Onion Flats Seep depending on what map you are using. I saw water works from the Lamp Stand road as I was looking for a car camping spot but didn't actually walk out and find water. On the flats below Lamp Stand there were rancher ponds with water in them and even one Canada Goose.:) Also intuitive cat indicates there is water on your way down Steep Creek. Onion Beds may be it until you get to your springs you know of in upper Bitter Creek.

On the riparian area in the Strike Valley near the mouth of Bitter Sweet Canyon we discussed earlier I tried to recon it and may have missed the right spot.


The Ritter Spring (on my EarthWalk Press map) that you pointed me at is at the mouth of the minor drainage north I have marked as Bitter Sweet Creek. This canyon name, Bitter Sweet, is from the Trails Illustrated map. Anyway it was kind of hard to see either the #1 or #2 riparian area I have marked from the road because there were minor ridges (Oyster Shell Reef) in the way. I was running short on time and found and notch in the reef and walked down to what was, in retropsect, #2 riparian area. It was bone dry. It was obvious thirsty cattle had been looking for water, there was some abandoned waterworks and even all the riparian foliage including tamarisk was brown and looked dead not just dormant. No water, not even close.

I did get a couple of pictures from the top of the reef looking down onto #1 and it looked dry/dead as well. I don't think you can count on these. I think the water table dropped or global warming/climate change has eliminated these water sources. It no longer looks like a green riparian area like it does in Google Earth data and it doesn't appear it is because it is still winter dormant. Plan accordingly. Sorry I didn't get boots on the ground for #1.

Here is the Ritter Spring zoomed out from the Strike Valley Overlook area (you can see Bitter and Bitter Sweet):


Here is the Ritter Spring zoomed in from the Strike Valley Overlook area:


Let me know if you want the very high rez versions and I will email them to you.

Here is the Ritter Spring from the Rim trail farther north.


And finally, here is the typical area around riparian area #2. Dry bones....

 

Artemus

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A WAY DOWN?


So the main purpose of the scouting trip was to look for a way for Jammer to be able to cross the UMT and the reef called Capital from west to east to build a more enjoyable route than walking all the way down the UMT to the Burr Trail and walking the road through the Waterpocket Fold.
Once I retrieve my GPS data I will update this with some detailed location data.

I first hiked up to the Strike Valley Overlook and started walking the Reef's east edge looking for a descent route that could be done solo and with a big pack. I found that ashergrey, NateGeesaman, slc_dan and intuitive cat's assessment that the slickrock would be very precipitous here was quite correct. Staying high on the Reef I moved north looking for a route. After half a mile I threw my heavy, dry-camp equipped, pack on the ground in the heavy wind and kept moving north. There were several interesting spots that looked promising but ultimately cliffed out once I started down. I saw a very few cairns and soon had to climb steep slickrock high on the Reef just to make northerly progress. I finally made it right to the ridge which is a knife ridge at this point looking vertical down hundreds of feet to the west into UMT and steep, white beautiful slickrock to the east falling many hundreds of feet to the Oyster Beds Reef and the Notom Road. Beautiful! I finally was stymied by a steep chimney going further north which I was too tired and wind-blasted to try solo. I probably recon'd a mile north from the overlook total.

I went back to my tent, set it up, tried to rest for a few hours with earplugs in but got too beatup and toredown and retreated, in shame, to the UMT canyon. Winds were only 10-15G20 in there so I overnighted a legal distance north from the trailhead. I must admit to hauling some comfort items from the car in an extra trip to ease my pain. :whistle:

Sunday dawned bright, blue and beautiful so I headed north to the Rim Trail even though I wasn't feeling well. Upper Muley Twist is to die-for !... 'nuff said. Read the Trail Guide by ashergrey here.I hiked up the south end of the Rim Trail and again immediately beelined to the east edge. Cool! It was lower angle and less tall. Pristine desert and large level/flat sections on top. I had a couple of false starts heading down again without a pack. I eventually got to a very promising lower angle shoulder about a mile or more from the south end of the Rim Trail and was able to descend using steep slickrock descending and descending on loose slickrock plates and talus on top of slabs. This was all at the angle of repose so tended to start moving when stepping in it.

After descending this a while I caught myself saying that *I* wouldn't try this section with a heavy pack. I descended 2/3 of the way down but could see in the distance that there was a pourover at the bottom that may or may not have a bypass. Since I had just decided I couldn't recommend the route to Jammer with a heavy pack anyway and I was not feeling well I headed back up and then home. So, no joy on a route, Jamal.

Looking farther north I could see the Reef top stayed level but the Notom road was ascending in it's valley meaning the Reef relief was lessening farther north. Driving out the Notom road and glassing the Reef I am confident that a way could be found down farther north - maybe where ashergrey or intuitive cat speculated near the north end of the Rim Trail. Farther north there is a vast cutout slab section at a lower angle that probably would go and farther north than that are much more gentle slopes covered in PJ forest that absolutely could be used for a crossing. A new route perhaps..... I may or may not post GPS coordinates and pics.

Good luck Jammer! We are rooting for you.
 

Jammer

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Joined
Feb 23, 2012
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Awesome recon and data, langutah -- thanks so much!

Bummer about that water being dry. It would have made life easier, but I think I should be ok with water from Onion Beds all the way up into Swap Canyon. I could probable get some mucky water from the slot as a back-up too.

Double bummer about no way down. I knew that the Strike Valley Overlook location was a long-shot, but I really thought there might be something along the Rim Route. Truth is... it's only another 5-6 miles to go down to the Burr Trail and back up and it's a fairly scenic walk so it's not the end of the world. BUT... I think I know that spot you are talking about farther north. I've had my eye on that notch for a while as a possible plan B. I'd like to try it out, but UMT is so scenic I'd had to skip it even though I've done it before. So... we will see.

I've had wind like that before -- no fun!

- Jamal
 

powderglut

In search of Fresh
Joined
Oct 17, 2012
Messages
367
Yep, I was contemplating a packraft -- but that just seemed like too much effort for this outing. So, I'm hooking up with the crew from Tex's Riverways again. They will give me a ride across as well as bring me a re-supply that I mail to them. As long as they are already there to pick up floaters, they do this for me for free -- I just tip the guide.

BTW -- I was thinking about having some people join me for the last leg. It doesn't look like it will happen, but I found out that Tex's will give people a one-way ride on the jetboat for $50 (again assuming they are already making the trip.) So... for future reference that could make for a good shuttle for a nice 4-6 day hike back to Moab!

- Jamal
That makes total sense. Perfect for a resupply and ride across river. Would really be cool doing the rest of the hike back to Moab starting from the boat. I've contemplated a Dollhouse/Maze trip like that.
I have no doubt you will have an epic trip! Good luck!!
 

Jammer

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Joined
Feb 23, 2012
Messages
641
OK -- I'm heading out tomorrow. I hope the weather is warmer down in southern Utah than it is up in SLC right now! (Forecast says it should be.)

Unless there is a bunch of snow on Boulder Mountain -- that's where I'm going to begin. If it doesn't look appealing, I'm going to go on down to the Escalante River crossing south of Boulder. Either way... looks like the name of this hike should be updated to Boulder to Moab!

I am NOT going to be making short updates on my site as I go this year. However, I might do posts to Facebook every few days, so if you want to friend/follow me there please do:

www.Facebook.com/greenjam

I'm also going to be checking in via my rental SAT device. I wish it was larger, but the public map page is here:

Http://tinyurl.com/dyup8xz

For any of you weekend warriors out there... say hello if you see me! This weekend I should be in the Upper Muley Twist area and next weekend in Happy Cyn/Maze. The final weekend (5/18) I should be finishing up through Behind the Rocks.

I promise a full report when I return. :)

- Jamal
 

Jammer

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Feb 23, 2012
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Heya All --

I finished up yesterday! It was quite the trip with several surprises. I will post more soon after a little decompression time, but here are some quick notes:

-- it was DRY out there. Many previous water sources were non-existent.
-- it was WET out there. Being 8000'+ in the Henry's in rain/hail/snow is no fun when not prepared.
-- it was HOT out there. Once I dried out, it quickly turned 90+ degrees for my hike through the Maze.

All that aside, it was still miserably wonderful and I had a great time.

More pics and video coming soon...

- Jamal

IMGP5762a.JPG
 

slc_dan

Desert Rat-Weekend Warrior
Joined
Jun 7, 2012
Messages
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Your treks are truly inspiring.

Blissfully exhausted is what I always think at the end of a good walk. Glad you were able to reach it.
 
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