Will be in Death Hollow in 2 weeks, had a question......

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John Kerby

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Ok, I have done the hike 3 times. From the airstrip to the highway. I see online all the time that tons of people hike it and sleep on the ground in bags with no tents. Is there not a danger of snakes or spiders getting on you while you sleep? How safe is this? To put an earth mat down and your sleeping bag? I don't really think there would be a ton of rattlesnakes IN the canyon around the water, but I know there are other things. Anyone here do that?

I am taking a small group including some of my students who are graduating on this hike, and am considering ditching the tents to save them weight. But before I do I wanted to know how dangerous it is.
 

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Nick

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I sleep on a tarp with no tent frequently, but I generally avoid it when it's really warm out, especially in wet canyons. But I'll sleep in the open back of my truck or the floor of my boat year round. That little space makes a big difference. But for backpacking, I personally wouldn't do it in Death Hollow from roughly May-Sept. A little too much stuff crawling around for my taste. I did it in The Narrows in June once and I had stuff crawling all over me and a couple large, gooey crushed creepers on my tarp in the morning.
 

Bob

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Snakes not so much. Ants (fire, carpenter) and spiders yes. Just depends on your bug tolerance....
Personally I use a tent, only weighs 2 lbs. I had enough of ants in the past, I like good nite sleep. Just last week two of my group had no tent and we did DH from top to BMT.....they are still alive.
 

John Kerby

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Oh.....they have fire ants in the canyon? Wow. Ok, we'll all be in tents. Not sure I like the idea of fire ants on me. And even a non venemous spider bite would suck. Wow......

Anyone ever make the drive from escalante to las vegas? A friend of mine that cannot hike with us is dropping us off and spending 2.5 days in vegas with his aunt, gambling. How long a drive is it really?
 

Bob

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5 to 6 hours..... boulder farther
 

regehr

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I almost always take a bivy sack backpacking. Vs. just a sleeping bag it adds warmth and gives good protection from bugs and weather. Vs. a tent it sets up anywhere in just a few seconds and -- most important -- can't be collapsed or sent airborne by those freak wind gusts that seem to happen pretty often in the desert. Basically I felt like I was spending a lot of time either messing with my tent or worrying about it and find the bivy sack to be real hassle free.

On the down side a bivy sack isn't really any lighter than the lightest tents and it wouldn't be much fun if the bugs were super bad or there was extended bad weather.
 

John Kerby

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Leaving this friday.......They have had some rain recently in the area. Hoping its ok. Tried to call the escalante ranger, left a message, never heard back from him. Anyone know if the river is up too much to safely make the hike?
 

BJett

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its a raging 1.25 cfs, or 2' on the gauge in town. As of now you're fine. With a chance of rain almost every day you just have to watch the weather, the river can flash and drop within hours. I wouldn't head into DH if there's a good chance of storms/heavier rain but you will have a good idea by...Friday morning. More than likely you will have a mostly dry but chilly trip, with an occasional shower. Seems typical this spring.
 

John Kerby

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Ok, help me out. Any other non-flooding hikes I could take if I drive 17 hours only to find it unpassable? A hike in the area thats maybe 1-3 days, over night?
 

Nick

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Anything in a watercourse has potential for flooding. Anything out of a watercourse has potential to not have much water and therefore not be great for multi-day trips unless you're resourceful and well traveled in the area. Not that helpful, I realize, but there are hundreds, if not thousands of awesome hikes out here to choose from if the forecast around DH is not acceptable. Hit the trip reports section and you'll be overwhelmed with inspiration.
 

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John Kerby

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Well, accuweather says rain today, MAYBE friday, and not again until monday has a chance of thuderstorms. By monday we should be through the canyons anyway, and where it opens up. Think we wouold be safe? The plan is to spend sunday night in Death Hollows entrance, then hike to the confluence by Monday night and camp there, walk out tuesday.
 

BJett

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Sometimes in life, you just have to go for it. None of us here ( I assume) can tell the future, hell even meteorologists don't know for sure if it will rain in Death Hollow on Saturday at 4:00pm, but with one more weather check on Thursday night you will have a good idea what to expect. Go for it, enjoy the trip, and take plenty of pictures.
 

John Kerby

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Agreed......Only, I am taking 4 graduating seniors from the high school I work at and one junior. These guys are all great, responsible kids. I just know that the other dangers inherent in Death Hollow I can accept.....drowning when the river comes up 10 feet is not. But, I would assume that to have that kind of flooding would require a considerable amount of rain. Much more than they've had.
 

Nick

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Agreed......Only, I am taking 4 graduating seniors from the high school I work at and one junior. These guys are all great, responsible kids. I just know that the other dangers inherent in Death Hollow I can accept.....drowning when the river comes up 10 feet is not. But, I would assume that to have that kind of flooding would require a considerable amount of rain. Much more than they've had.
Actually, there has been plenty of rain falling in southern Utah lately to bring that river up to flood stage. It doesn't take a lot.

The flood below was in a relatively tiny, dry drainage late last week, about 50 miles from Death Hollow. In comparison Death Hollow is a massive flood-prone drainage. The storms have been hitting all over the place down there lately with more in the forecast. There is great potential for DH to flash if it gets hit by just one good cell. Don't underestimate the danger. Stay out of there if the forecast looks bad.

 

John Kerby

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Arg. I don't know what to do. I am in wichita ks.....Have put this trip together, raised money, done all kinds of work for it. Can't cancel it.
 

John Kerby

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Accuweather says a thunderstorm friday, a dry saturday, a pm thunderstorm sunday night, and a couple of thunderstorms monday.

I am at a loss. It was like this last year when I went, they had rain the week before....And the river was fine. Dang it.
 

Nick

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When it's turbulent like this, the forecast is basically useless. Maybe the day before it's getting close to accurate, but even then, who knows. Doesn't really matter if you're in Witchita or Escalante or if it rained hard last week or yesterday. One big burst can cause a flash big enough to scour out a canyon but it can subside hours later.

There are countless ways to spend quality time outdoors in southern Utah regardless of the potential for flooding though. Just stick with trailheads that are accessed by paved roads and stay out of narrow canyons. Wet times are good to hike overland routes that are normally mostly dry such as The Needles district in Canyonlands. Or do the whole BMT instead of your usual BMT>DH>Escalante route. Much less flood danger if you only have to worry about short stretches in the canyon bottoms. Tons of options, just think outside the Box... Death Hollow Wilderness Area. LOL.
 

John Kerby

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Ok, what is the whole boulder mail trial? I am only familiar with the stretch from the airstrip to the canyon.
 

Nick

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Sounds like you already know a good chunk of it. Check your GSENM guidebook(s) for the nitty gritty, but it's just the old mail route between Boulder and Escalante. Leaves Death Hollow after about a mile or so of travel down canyon, then climbs up and crosses Mamie Creek and then up over some Antone Flat before dropping down into Pine Creek and eventually into the upper Escalante before ending at the Escalante Town Trailhead. Plenty on it here on BCP.

Here's my report:
http://backcountrypost.com/threads/boulder-mail-trail.2829/

And more:
http://backcountrypost.com/search/4436144/?q=boulder+mail&o=date&c[title_only]=1&c[node]=20
 

John Kerby

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Ok, I checked three major weather websites.....weather.com, weatherunderground both show no rain the days we are in the canyon. They both show rain only saturday, and thats IT for the whole week. Accuweather shows rain friday, sunday, and monday. I am thinking we will check in with the escalante visiters center and talk with them sunday morning, and then start the hike. If they say the canyons are too dangerous, we will simply hike into a plataeu I know of near death hollow, camp there, and explore the sourrounding areas. MAYBE go down into the entrance to Death Hollow, if safe, check out the alcove, and hike back out. If the visiters center says its safe, and if they in fact get little rain from here till then, then we likely will do the hike. I will just camp outside the canyon where possible, and choose areas to camp that have quick egress. I intend to have several safety talks with the group, so I feel comfortable with this. If we don't do the whole hike, I still want the guys to see Death Hollow. Too awesome. We could do some safe rock climbing, exploration in the area if need be.

Anyone know if the visiter center is open sunday morning? I greatly appriciate you guys advice. I feel better about the situation, really feel like we will end up doing it. It will be an adventure yes, but thats what they signed up for.
 

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