Little Death Hollow, GSENM

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piper01

Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2013
Messages
166
GSENM hiking: Burr Trail Road area

Part 2: Oct 16, 2018
(continuation from part 1)
***

The day dawned bright and clear. I had a fantastic view of the sunrise from my perch atop my hilltop campsite.
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Yesterday's hiking destination. The walls were absolutely glowing in the early morning light.
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With some clouds in the sky and rain forecast for later in the week, I checked in with my husband at home via my InReach for the latest weather update. He verified that the clouds would gradually clear and that today was going to be dry, so I was good to go. I know better than to be in a slot canyon when it's raining! I packed up camp and headed down Wolverine Loop Road.
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Other than a few rough wash crossings, the road was in good shape at the time.
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I spent the drive internally debating my plans for the next few days. I had originally planned on doing LDH and Wolverine as a 2 day backpacking loop, but with the upcoming weather forecast- light rain on and off for the next day or two- I had to decide among my alternative plans. Options: 1) do the loop as a loooong dayhike or do an out-and-back hike of just LDH, 2) set up camp in Horse Canyon and spend the rainy period exploring the mesa top, 3) try to hike fast and get through the Wolverine narrows today as well before setting up camp in a wide part of the canyon.

An acquaintance of mine had reported that they were unable to get up LDH from the bottom-up a week prior after earlier rain in the area, but that top-down could be different. Still, I wasn't optimistic that it would be passable. Ultimately, I decided to stick with my original plan of backpacking, with enough food for a few extra days if needed, but with the likelihood that it would ultimately turn into a dayhike. I grabbed my pack and hiking stick, signed the trail register (noting that 2 of the 3 other groups that were out were just dayhiking), and hit the trail.
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Ka-thunk!
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Petroglyph boulder
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Petroglyphs
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I soon noted that my left knee was sore and stiff. Thinking back, I identified the cause as knocking it against a boulder whille scrambling over the previous day, though my knee hadn't hurt at the time. My pace dropped slightly slower than my usual average, but not too bad. I kept walking.
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Seems like most canyons out here have a feature like this.
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The canyon started to narrow a bit.
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This rock caught my eye. I decided it was a good place for a snack break and a foot check. This morning, I had switched out the arch inserts in my boots for the more supportive ones I usually wear in my shoes. I'd worn them in my boots before with no problems, but today something felt off, probably due to my changed stride with compensating for my stiff knee. Everything looked fine, so I aired out my feet a bit then continued on.
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The walls closed in even more.
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A hint of blue sky through the side canyon. The clouds were indeed clearing.
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Tafoni
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The walls opened up again; not quite to the slot just yet.
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More blue sky
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The first obstacle. Somewhere around here (I don't remember if it was just before or after), I met a solo dayhiker coming back up, soon followed by the other group of dayhikers. He reported that he was stymied before he made it all the way through the slot. So, dayhike it was. I swapped my big pack for my little daypack to continue on. Honestly, I should have done that much sooner as I realized how much my knee was aching early on in the hike- I had been thinking about it on and off for several miles and I'm sure carrying the additional weight didn't do it any favors- or I probably should have just done it as a dayhike from the start.
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Made it to the slot part!
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Chunk of petrified wood
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Water-rounded edges
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I love the floor here.
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Oh, that golden glow!
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I would not want to be around when a flood deposited that log all the way up there.
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This log couldn't make the turn.
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My knee was aching more and more and locking up, to the point where I couldn't bend/unbend it enough for basic chimneying moves. I reached a 4-5 foot dropoff onto a rock in the midst of a shallow puddle that I could get down, but knew that I would NOT be able to get back up, despite the other groups having just done it. End of the road for me. I forgot to take a picture, but I can still see it in my head to identify the spot for whenever I eventually get back there.

My assessment of the slot canyon: Even on a good day, I would have found some of the obstacles a bit challenging to do solo with a big backpack (no one with whom to pass packs and hard to downclimb with it on), so this may not have been the best fit for a solo backpacking loop for me at my current skill level. Maybe packing lighter/more compactly I could have managed it, but that will involve investing in some new equipment. Darn, guess I'll have to go shopping...

The hobble out. It did turn out to be a beautiful sunny day!
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Something still didn't feel right, so I stopped off at my original break spot to check my feet again. And...the bottoms of both heels had huge blisters, in a spot I've never gotten blisters before, plus a small one on the side of a toe, even though I was wearing well broken-in boots. I had been swinging my hip out awkwardly to avoid bending my knee as much, so I must have been rubbing my feet in different places than usual. My knee pain had obscured the discomfort of my feet; no wonder I was hobbling so pathetically. My hiking pole had turned into a cane.

Slowly and steadily, I hiked my way back to my car. At least it was all flat and easy walking.
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Quite the contrasting sky from the similar spot this morning
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And finally back to the trailhead. I gratefully swapped my boots for my sandals and breathed a sigh of relief.
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Late afternoon drive out
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Then because I'm a glutton for punishment I made a quick stop off at the Wolverine petrified wood area. I didn't hike far enough in to see any of the really good petrified wood, but I did find these ripple marks.
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Then off to find a home for the night before the sun went down completely. With so few days to visit here each year, I tend to squeeze every last drop of evening light out of my days.
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Titans

Member
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Joined
Aug 18, 2018
Messages
513
Love those slot canyon walls, very nice. Amazing sunrise too, wow! How many miles did you hike in before turning around?
Your knee injury doesn’t sound good.... I’m always concerned about injuries because it could mean the end to our long road trips :rolleyes:
Thanks for posting the Wolverine loop road pictures, I wasn’t sure how that dirt road looks like.
 

Miya

Because I am able.
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Joined
Dec 31, 2017
Messages
844
I am sorry about the uncomfortableness! Really appreciate the trip report and hope you are feeling better now!
 

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