Packrafting Willow/Davis/50 mile

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smscheick

S. Wells (smscheick)
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We (my husband, myself, and our four dogs) did the "Lower Escalante Trifecta" as originally reported by @BJett. Thank you @BJett for your post!!! We used a regular map, Gaia, and the picture included in BJett's post, and I did not record anything to save phone battery. The only tricky part is coming out of Davis and heading cross-country to 50 mile, and we eyeballed that based on the picture of the map, and looking at Gaia.

We are new on Backcountry post, and this trip was in late August/September of 2018. I'm not a huge fan of sharing locations (ie we deleted instagram....that's a long digression), and I'm sure many of you feel that way. However, this is where I find a ton of good info, and I love this website, so I want to contribute to the wealth of outdoor adventure info on here. We backpack almost every weekend if we aren't skiing, so as long as I don't get too much hate for packing with a pack of dogs, I'll keep posting.

We started out in Willow Gulch. The puppy was so little that we let her run it out, and then put her in the papoose as soon as she looked tired. She actually didn't mind, believe it or not.
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Sometimes, we bring way too much...but it's really the life jackets taking over the backpack. One for every one...

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We camped at the end of Willow, where it meets the escalante. Took out the packrafts for a test spin with doggies. We rented these, and I believe this is the kokopelli Nirvana. It fit one person and two dogs plus a pack just fine. Weighs 9lb I believe. no issues with dog nails. We are in the market for buying a pack raft, should any one have any reccs?

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We camped here. it's probably a common place for boaters to camp. We picked up trash, and unfortunately, there is a ton of graffiti.
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The next morning, we paddled over to Davis Gulch.

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Dogs did pretty well, but they would much rather be in the water the whole time, not in a pack raft.
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See Davis's sullen face. lol, just kidding, that's just his face all the time. He's our only dog who barks at people, and he barked at the boaters we passed. None of them seemed to mind, and most of them offered us beer :)
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We only have one dog who loves to swim all the time, and he's in the pool there. Princess Bell looks on. This picture was taken as we hiked into Davis gulch.
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We must have hit the time of year just right. La Gorce arch is incredible. Most of the boaters stopped on the other side, and we only saw one other couple checking this spot out, and then heading back into their boat. It felt surreal.
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Above is our view from our camp that night.
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Then, we began the cross country hike from Davis to 50 mile gulch. I didn't record it. We may be able to dig out GPS coordinates if any one is interested and I can figure out what we labeled them. I have read that it is not possible to hike out of Davis Gulch back to HITR without technical canyoneering. Any one feel free to correct me.

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We had to cool off in a few potholes on the way over. I would definitely recommend starting as early as possible to beat the heat. The rest of the pictures are in 50 mile.

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Not sure what kind of moth this was. It was dead.
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We dropped our packs and explored up the canyon in 50 mile, and it leads to a narrow section. We did not go all the way to the escalante because we heard thunder and bailed. It does look like it would be hard to get a good spot to take the pack rafts off and transition to hiking due to potholes. I would not recommend trying it, and I would recommend what we did, which was Davis over to 50 mile, and then out.

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We saw one of these on the way out. Supposedly has the worst sting of all insects? I stayed away, and my husband took close ups. Typical....

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Nerd alert. We couldn't get the paddles to break apart, so we walked out like that. We ran into an awesome group on hole in the rock road who gave us beer and took a family picture for us. The dogs would not pose, and wanted us to throw the stick, also typical.

Fantastic trip that I hope one day to repeat :)
 

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Jackson

I like to go outside.
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#2
Wow! Those packs look very heavy! Loved seeing the pictures of the dogs as well. Looks like a wonderful trip!

And welcome to BCP!
 
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Nick

Spiral out.
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#7
And 4 dogs! Those must be some great pups! (and some good owners) I have 3 dogs and only one of them would enjoy this kind of adventure!
 
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#8
That looks like an awesome trip. I will admit that I saw the size of those packs and thought back to some of the packs I used to haul around in my 20's and my shoulders started to ache. Glad to hear people were so charitable with their beer.

One question for you, where did you rent the pack rafts, and did they also rent you the life jackets?
 

smscheick

S. Wells (smscheick)
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One question for you, where did you rent the pack rafts, and did they also rent you the life jackets?[/QUOTE]

We rented the pack rafts from the University of Utah outdoor recreation rentals. They did come with life jackets, but those were pretty heavy. We bought ours instead, but I can't remember where. We got the dog life jackets at Petco.

Still trying to decide what type of pack raft we want to buy. DIY pack raft is an awesome website for any one who is interested, but we haven't attempted making one.
 

smscheick

S. Wells (smscheick)
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And 4 dogs! Those must be some great pups! (and some good owners) I have 3 dogs and only one of them would enjoy this kind of adventure!
Thanks! I saw one of your posts with Sage, and she's a cutie. Only Davis is really an "indoor dog," but he doesn't like to be left behind. If we shout, "who wants to go outside?" Davis runs away, and if we shout, "who wants to go to daycare?" he's all about it. Makes me laugh.
 

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smscheick

S. Wells (smscheick)
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That looks like an awesome trip. I will admit that I saw the size of those packs and thought back to some of the packs I used to haul around in my 20's and my shoulders started to ache. Glad to hear people were so charitable with their beer.

One question for you, where did you rent the pack rafts, and did they also rent you the life jackets?
We rented the pack rafts from the University of Utah outdoor recreation rentals. They did come with life jackets, but those were pretty heavy. We bought ours instead, but I can't remember where. We got the dog life jackets at Petco.

Still trying to decide what type of pack raft we want to buy. DIY pack raft is an awesome website for any one who is interested, but we haven't attempted making one.
 
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#12
We rented the pack rafts from the University of Utah outdoor recreation rentals. They did come with life jackets, but those were pretty heavy. We bought ours instead, but I can't remember where. We got the dog life jackets at Petco.

Still trying to decide what type of pack raft we want to buy. DIY pack raft is an awesome website for any one who is interested, but we haven't attempted making one.
I have been looking at the Klymit packrafts, mostly because they are so inexpensive that if I only use it once or twice I won’t feel to bad about it.
 

smscheick

S. Wells (smscheick)
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Man I must be doing something wrong...I’ve done quite a few packrafting trips in the area and am always hoping for beer charity but never have any luck. Beard must be too unkempt. Nice trip.
It must be the dogs! Also timing. By mid afternoon, it seemed quite a few boaters were inebriated themselves. Any thoughts on your favorite pack raft trip? the one through twilight/cottonwood/llewellyn posted by @George_Washington_Hayduke looks awesome as well! My husband feels set on pack rafting the escalante when there's run off, but I was trying to talk him into a loop instead.
 

smscheick

S. Wells (smscheick)
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I have been looking at the Klymit packrafts, mostly because they are so inexpensive that if I only use it once or twice I won’t feel to bad about it.
We picked those up via Costco! But we haven't tried them out yet so I can't tell you how they are! We got those thinking it would be good for alpine lake floating and any non dog pack raft trips. Every Klymit pad we use, pops, but the price is so good on that pack raft that we went for it anyway. You're right, price is so good, it does seem worth the shot.
 
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#15
Your pup is so adorable, I want to steal him!

Fantastic trip, I did a similar one a few years ago also inspired by the trip reports here. The water was higher then; I had to carefully paddle along the wall in the room with La Gorce arch with the boat traffic generating waves.

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Man I must be doing something wrong...I’ve done quite a few packrafting trips in the area and am always hoping for beer charity but never have any luck. Beard must be too unkempt. Nice trip.
I was offered a cool refreshing beverage on my one packrafting trip. You must be doing something wrong! I was also invited back to their camp for steak sandwiches, but I still had some miles to go so I reluctantly declined.
 
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I have been looking at the Klymit packrafts, mostly because they are so inexpensive that if I only use it once or twice I won’t feel to bad about it.
I have the Klymit LWD. It's slow and handles clumsily, but I definitely got my money worth out of it with just one trip. I remember being pretty miserable paddling, but I have another trip planned with it so it must not have been that bad!


One question for you, where did you rent the pack rafts, and did they also rent you the life jackets?
I found this company out of Escalante that rents rafts/paddles/life jackets. Better quality rafts than the Klymit, but with picking up the LWD, a paddle, and a PFD all on sale I spent less money to own my gear than it would cost to rent it for more than a 2-3 day trip.
 
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#17
We rented the pack rafts from the University of Utah outdoor recreation rentals. They did come with life jackets, but those were pretty heavy. We bought ours instead, but I can't remember where. We got the dog life jackets at Petco.

Still trying to decide what type of pack raft we want to buy. DIY pack raft is an awesome website for any one who is interested, but we haven't attempted making one.
I think it depends some on what you want to do with your packraft. I have an Alpacka, and i haven't used any thing else, but i have a hard time imagining using one of those smaller or less shaped rafts if i was going to do much Class III+.

you might check out
packrafts the thread
 

Miya

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#18
Holy moly to:
1. Your packs. They look Epic!
2. Bringing 4 fur babies! You deserve an award.
3. Your new puppy! Wonderfully cute!
4. That demon insect...haha about how big is that thing?
Thank you for sharing! Really enjoyed your adventure!
 
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#19
Yes!!! Great report, thanks for taking me back! That was the most memorable trip I've ever taken in the desert. Looks like a similar lake level to what I had, around 100' below full pool. That waterfall in lower Willow is a treat and usually covered up.
I think y'all are the second crew to repeat this one. Cute pup!
 

smscheick

S. Wells (smscheick)
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Holy moly to:
1. Your packs. They look Epic!
2. Bringing 4 fur babies! You deserve an award.
3. Your new puppy! Wonderfully cute!
4. That demon insect...haha about how big is that thing?
Thank you for sharing! Really enjoyed your adventure!
Thank you :) Google says it's a pepsis wasp, also known as a tarantula hawk, because it lays its eggs inside a tarantula by injecting them with eggs. I think it's about 3 inches long.
 

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