Southern Utah - Late October & Early November 2020

Nethos

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Will be headed to Southern Utah from mid-October to mid-November, a new time of year for me out there this year, and with the drought I'm reading about, I figured I would try to collect some info in the areas I think I will visit, especially re:water. I will mostly be solo other than a week or so with my wife before she returns East, but open to partners if the fit is right, so if you're out here during this time and are interested, feel free to contact me. Mostly I backpack classically, moving camp every night, but I am also into exploring, especially in this country. I will often spend 4 nights just in Elephant Canyon in Needles and not get bored. Looking at a few Steven Allen routes but probably will keep my risks low with being solo & not having my canyon legs under me having not been for a few years. Mostly planning to hit the Needles, Dark(and maybe Youngs), as well as Grand Gulch from Collins to Kane Gulch Ranger Station. I'm mostly looking for recent water info, but would take trip advice as well. I will also ask the related authorities, but often they are very reluctant to provide water info(understandably).

Re: Dark and Youngs Canyon(I will go upcanyon to Youngs from Dark, not the Steven Allen route). Does the creek in Dark dry up in a drought year like this?

In Needles, I know there is a reliable pothole in EC, but I haven't been there in a year as dry as this, also seem to remember a spring near Druid, same question. Would also be curious if Big Spring or Lost Canyon is worth a night or two there and what water is like, I know the NPS is loathe to admit there is water in any of these areas.

In Grand Gulch, I have read that water is pretty reliable. Any reason to think it wouldn't be in a year like this? Would it be crazy to try to hitch from Kane Gulch RS to the turnoff for Collins if I gave myself a full day?(Putting COVID aside)
 
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LarryBoy

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Hitchhiking during a pandemic is an incredibly selfish act, especially in the vicinity of the really hard-hit Navajo Nation. If you're concerened enough about your own welfare to ask for a water report, perhaps other people's pandemic-related welfare merits your same concern.
 

Nethos

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Hitchhiking during a pandemic is an incredibly selfish act, especially in the vicinity of the really hard-hit Navajo Nation. If you're concerened enough about your own welfare to ask for a water report, perhaps other people's pandemic-related welfare merits your same concern.

You're absolutely right and I had not considered the proximity to such an affected area. That was pretty thoughtless of me. I appreciate you bringing it to my attention. I'll plan accordingly.
 

IntrepidXJ

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In Grand Gulch, I have read that water is pretty reliable. Any reason to think it wouldn't be in a year like this?

There are some long stretches of Grand Gulch that can be very dry even in the spring after a dry winter, so I would say that water is not always as reliable as you've read. A few years ago in April we had to carry a lot of water and didn't find much along the way.
 

fossana

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There are some long stretches of Grand Gulch that can be very dry even in the spring after a dry winter, so I would say that water is not always as reliable as you've read. A few years ago in April we had to carry a lot of water and didn't find much along the way.

I wouldn't count on any water beyond perennial springs like the one at the base of Sheiks Canyon. The drought has been so bad this year, I would give the ranger station a call to confirm those are still reliable. Same goes for relying on supposedly "reliable potholes". We had a non-existent monsoon this year. The NPS isn't trying to trick you; they're trying to having to prevent having to haul out you or your body due to dumb decisions (not to mention potentially exposing SAR teams to Coronavirus).
 

IntrepidXJ

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I wouldn't count on any water beyond perennial springs like the one at the base of Sheiks Canyon. The drought has been so bad this year, I would give the ranger station a call to confirm those are still reliable. Same goes for relying on supposedly "reliable potholes". We had a non-existent monsoon this year.

Yep, I'm planning some time out in the canyons next week, and because of how dry it's been this summer I am mostly planning on sticking to day hikes or overnighters where I can carry all the water I will need. I just don't trust that there will be good water sources to find this year.
 

Nethos

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I wouldn't count on any water beyond perennial springs like the one at the base of Sheiks Canyon. The drought has been so bad this year, I would give the ranger station a call to confirm those are still reliable. Same goes for relying on supposedly "reliable potholes". We had a non-existent monsoon this year. The NPS isn't trying to trick you; they're trying to having to prevent having to haul out you or your body due to dumb decisions (not to mention potentially exposing SAR teams to Coronavirus).

Thanks for that info re: GG.

I'm speaking to previous experience with NPS in that specific area, not current. I'm not suggesting they are trying to trick anybody and I know they have the safety of themselves and those they inform to consider. I am aware of the risks and conscious of what taking them means during this time. That's why I am here asking for information, so I can make informed decisions, not dumb ones. I do appreciate your help. Sincerely.

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Nethos

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Yep, I'm planning some time out in the canyons next week, and because of how dry it's been this summer I am mostly planning on sticking to day hikes or overnighters where I can carry all the water I will need. I just don't trust that there will be good water sources to find this year.
It's helpful to know your thinking. It seems like I will likely have to adjust my plans similarly or at least pick multiday trips that are easier to bail on.

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RyanP

Formerly bob32
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You're absolutely right and I had not considered the proximity to such an affected area. That was pretty thoughtless of me. I appreciate you bringing it to my attention. I'll plan accordingly.
Kudos for humbly accepting some criticism that was perhaps overly-strongly worded (although valid)!

Also, I agree that you'll want to be very careful trusting water availability in GG at this time
 

LarryBoy

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You're absolutely right and I had not considered the proximity to such an affected area. That was pretty thoughtless of me. I appreciate you bringing it to my attention. I'll plan accordingly.
Spoken like a gentleman. Thanks.

I did a bunch of backpacking earlier this year myself, doing loops to avoid hitchhiking. If you're looking for something a bit more adventurous than the classic Kane-Bullet loop, try hiking down Slickhorn (any of the entrances) down to the river, follow the mining track to E Slickhorn, and then up E Slickhorn back to your car. Beautiful, with great ruins and enough route-finding to keep you entertained. I've always found water in E Slickhorn*, though I'd bet money that it's completely dry now. But the San Juan is obviously reliable so you can just tank up there.

*Large pothole in the middle part of the canyon; can't miss it. Also a tiny seep in the lower canyon just above the 4wd road.
 

Nethos

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Spoken like a gentleman. Thanks.

I did a bunch of backpacking earlier this year myself, doing loops to avoid hitchhiking. If you're looking for something a bit more adventurous than the classic Kane-Bullet loop, try hiking down Slickhorn (any of the entrances) down to the river, follow the mining track to E Slickhorn, and then up E Slickhorn back to your car. Beautiful, with great ruins and enough route-finding to keep you entertained. I've always found water in E Slickhorn*, though I'd bet money that it's completely dry now. But the San Juan is obviously reliable so you can just tank up there.

*Large pothole in the middle part of the canyon; can't miss it. Also a tiny seep in the lower canyon just above the 4wd road.

Of course. I am here to receive help in whatever form it comes in. We all have blind spots we need assistance seeing from time to time.

That Slickhorn route seems a great option. When you say E Slickhorn, I'm assuming you mean the next major canyon east along the San Juan, unnamed on the map across from Cowboy Hat, before John's?

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Reef&Ruins

Colorado Plateau is calling...
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Spoken like a gentleman. Thanks.

I did a bunch of backpacking earlier this year myself, doing loops to avoid hitchhiking. If you're looking for something a bit more adventurous than the classic Kane-Bullet loop, try hiking down Slickhorn (any of the entrances) down to the river, follow the mining track to E Slickhorn, and then up E Slickhorn back to your car. Beautiful, with great ruins and enough route-finding to keep you entertained. I've always found water in E Slickhorn*, though I'd bet money that it's completely dry now. But the San Juan is obviously reliable so you can just tank up there.

*Large pothole in the middle part of the canyon; can't miss it. Also a tiny seep in the lower canyon just above the 4wd road.
I need to talk to you about Slickhorn canyon.
 

LarryBoy

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Of course. I am here to receive help in whatever form it comes in. We all have blind spots we need assistance seeing from time to time.

That Slickhorn route seems a great option. When you say E Slickhorn, I'm assuming you mean the next major canyon east along the San Juan, unnamed on the map across from Cowboy Hat, before John's?

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Yep exactly. If you're gonna do this route, I'd strongly suggest picking up a copy of Michael Kelsey's Non-technical Hiking Guide to the Colorado Plateau which has beta for both Slickhorn and E Slickhorn. The normal Kelsey Disclaimer applies - his maps are terrible, times are ludicrously fast, and some info is just flat-out wrong (he claims that you can hike all the way down to the San Juan in either canyon - in reality, you'd need a wingsuit in E Slickhorn). Nonetheless, it's worth picking up.
 

Nethos

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in reality, you'd need a wingsuit in E Slickhorn)

You don't bring your wingsuit with you on every hike?

Thanks. I had forgotten about the Kelsey books. I also just found an older post with lots of Slickhorn beta and @Bob 's GG resources page.
 

Nethos

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To followup for those that might need the info: no water in Slickhorn main fork through and including Third Fork. (Unsure about 2nd but I would assume the same). Saw some day hikers coming out of Trail Fork who said they saw "some small pools" in Trail Fork, and heard a similar report from BLM. Though that all may change if they get rain last night/today which was a possibility. YMMV. I was glad to have decided to just dayhike and not backpack.



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Rockskipper

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"Of course. I am here to receive help in whatever form it comes in. We all have blind spots we need assistance seeing from time to time."

Ah, that we could all have such humility. Thanks for inspiring my day.
 

IntrepidXJ

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To followup for those that might need the info: no water in Slickhorn main fork through and including Third Fork. (Unsure about 2nd but I would assume the same). Saw some day hikers coming out of Trail Fork who said they saw "some small pools" in Trail Fork, and heard a similar report from BLM. Though that all may change if they get rain last night/today which was a possibility. YMMV. I was glad to have decided to just dayhike and not backpack.

I was in Slickhorn 2 yesterday and saw no water.
 
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