First Time to the Escalante Canyons, Part 1

Scott Chandler

Wildness is a necessity- John Muir
Jan 4, 2014
Spring Break... A thing I thought I left behind with school but alas, my younger brother is still in school and has had a growing desire to enter the world of camping and backpacking. So the latter half of his break became devoted to a trip out to the canyons of the Escalante.

3/ 9/16

A few hours of driving saw my brother and I at the Lower Calf Creek TH and starting a hike that turned out longer than expected. Luckily we had plenty of time.

Walking up the canyon was very pleasant with temps in the 60's. We were a bit early for much greenery, but it made viewing the canyon colors all the better.
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And soon enough we were at the Lower Falls. It's not every day that you see falls so tall in the desert! And we only shared it with a couple people. Yay for no crowding!
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With time left in the day we headed down the Hole-in-the-Rock Road and visited the "Devil's Garden Outstanding Natural Area." That's what the sign said, and I liked it. It seemed to be the only formal sign on the whole road.

Low clouds and late afternoon light made the hoodoos pop!
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Metate Arch had some particularly nice lighting.
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A side road nearby yielded an ok campsite near a cattle water tank but we managed to have the spot to ourselves all night.


The next day dawned bright and sunny. We decided to spend the day seeing some much hyped slot canyons. The first were the two some of Tunnel and Zebra Slots.
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Quickly the "trail" dropped into Halfway Hollow and I was amazed by the similarities the sandstone held with the Coyote Buttes area.

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When Halfway Hollow met Harris Wash we headed downstream to Tunnel Slot. The sun beat on out heads and the sand shifted under our feet, making us happy that we weren't visiting at another time. Quickly a wash came into view that the slot might have been up.
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Sure enough, there it was! The name was easy to see. A few pools of water discouraged venturing past the mouth of the slot, but the sight was still pretty neat. I liked that you could see light at the end of the tunnel.
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So around we turned and slogged back through the sand to Zebra Slot

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The canyon started out like a typical slot so when we hit some water without seeing what makes this one special the boots came off and we continued on. The water was only a few inches deep and lasted for a few tens of feet so it wasn't a big deal. What proceeded made the chilly water worth it too!!!
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After a quick jaunt back to the car, we then relocated to another drainage and wandered down a steep wash to visit Spooky Slot.
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We ended up passing by Peek a Boo Slot, seeing that the moki steps were pretty worn down to be comfortably usable. Injury sure didn't sound worth it. Luckily Spooky was one of the cooler slots I've been in. Dark, tight, bumpy, it boasted a cool personality and the ease of travel makes it really special in my book.
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We eventually turned around at a rockfall and wandered back to the car to find a campsite and rest up for the rest of our trip. To follow: an overnight backpack into Coyote Gulch!! Continued here.
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I remember seeing Metate Arch last fall and being awestruck at just how small it actually was. Great report and photos.
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