Zion to Capitol Reef Hike


Feb 23, 2012
I finished my Zion to Capitol Reef Hike back in May. After completing the "Flood Video" I got sidetracked and didn't get a chance to do a full trip report... until now. I'll give you guys a trip overview here and include the "short" video. But, if you have the time and want to dig deeper, check out these links for more options a la choose your own adventure:

Long-form Video
Trip Journal
Photo Gallery
Trip Map

The hike ended up being 320 miles over 20 days. Four of those were half days, but even accounting for that I failed to hit my goal of 20 miles per day. Like Milli Vanilli, I blame it on the rain. :) This was easily my most cool and rainiest long-distance Utah hike ever. Only a few days were in the mid 80s in temps and it probably rained half the days I was on the trail. Despite the cool temps and precipitation, I find it strange that it never did hail on me (that's a first for my spring hikes.) Though the rain slowed me down, it also made life easier as water was never a problem and I got by carrying very little.

Some Highlights/Lowlights for me:

HIGH: The Barracks
Got to revisit this place and it was as great as I remembered. I took the slightly longer Separation Pass route which I liked and also got a chance to do side hikes through Poverty Wash and Mineral Gulch. I also found the Powell Plaque which I missed last time around.

LOW: No Labyrinth Falls
I again failed to get down to see the top of the falls. The downclimb above the falls was still too daunting for me to try solo. It was difficult to judge how hard it would be get back up from on top.

HIGH: Unexpected Cool Slickrock
Stumbled upon a few cool outcrops of slickrock while making my way from Kanab Creek over to the Mollies Nipple. They weren't Coyote Buttes by any means, but still pretty fun to check out.

LOW: Just about everything else along this stretch
Sandy routes, an ATV Jamboree, very little water and insatiable packrats.

HIGH: Starlight Canyon and Cave
It's one of those remote spots I'd always wanted to visit and I'm glad I made it happen. The charcoal pictographs in the cave are very unique and the rest of the canyon is nice as well. The narrows are fun and then ending near Kitchen Canyon Falls is a treat.

LOW: Asshat Graffiti
Some jerk decided to scrawl his own HUGE name and date in Starlight Cave with charcoal. Anyone know Guy Renzello? There's one in Payson with a Fb page with some "outdoorsy" pics -- wonder if this is the culprit?

HIGH: Navajo Canyon
I'd always wanted to do the segment of the Hayduke Trail that runs across the Kaiparowits. It takes a strange route at one point running up through Reece Canyon and then back down Navajo Canyon. Now I see why: Navajo Canyon is pretty cool. It's not easy with soft sand at the top and a bunch of boulders in the middle -- but the section of narrows and "burnt" mudhills make up for it.

LOW: Monday Canyon
The next section of the Hayduke I didn't care for as much. Another boulder filled canyon w/o as much scenic value in my opinion. Mudholes Canyon looks like a better route to me.

HIGH: People
I saw fewer people on the trail this time out than ever before, but I liked who I did run into. First -- I met our own @Joey in Stevens Canyon. He was the only other person that day in Stevens and it's a crazy coincidence that we happened to sync up. Similarly I only ran into one person in The Barracks -- and I knew him as well. Then there was Will who I dubbed Will the Wanderer. I met him in Wahweap Canyon and he was quite the character. He has been wandering the Kaiparowits and Escalante for the last two years almost non-stop! He forages off the land and has no water filter or tent/tarp/bag/etc.

LOW: Cows
I feel like it's time for me to become more vocal in my opposition to cows on much of this land. The stench along the Paria was disgusting and the destruction of pictographs in Starlight Cave was sad (due to leaning/rubbing wall.) Water holes like Rogers Creek and Pocket Hollow have been rendered nearly useless by pollution. But, my own concerns aside, it also seems like a terrible place for the cows. I again saw so many dead cows along the route as well as one that was injured and just heartbreakingly limped along.

HIGH: 50-Mile Mountain
I'd never been on top until this trip and it was awesome. The view from atop the Straight Cliffs over the Escalante Basin to the Henry Mountains is incredible.

LOW: Abbreviated Route
Because I was behind schedule, I dropped off the Straight Cliffs directly down to Coyote Gulch instead of exploring the lower portion of the 50-Mile Mountain as well as Willow Gulch and 40-Mile Gulch. Next time!

HIGH: Coyote Gulch
It's been almost 10 years since I'd been there and it's still great. It draws the crowds for a reason, but I was happy that it didn't feel overrun when I was there as I only saw 5 other people.

LOW: Toilet Paper
I didn't see many people in Coyote Gulch, but I saw a bunch of teepee. Ug.

HIGH: Stevens Canyon
I really loved this canyon. I was a little worried about some of the obstacles, but they weren't bad at all. I don't feel like my pictures do this place justice (but maybe that's a good thing!)

LOW: Parts of The Baker Route
I didn't really enjoy parts of the Baker Route over to Halls Creek. I think I would have liked it more if it would have been completely unmarked, but the way it is there will be a dozen cairns within 30 feet and then nothing for the next quarter mile (that I saw.) There was also some litter along the way and the views from the top aren't as impressive as other places along the Fold IMHO.

HIGH: Halls Creek Narrows
This is a very awesome place and experiencing the flash flood there was an unforgettable experience.

LOW: Haters on YouTube
My flash flood video is becoming one of my most popular videos. I partially attribute this to @Nick 's awesome flood videos from this season which helped draw in an audience (related content). But, with that increased traffic, I've gotten more negativity than ever before: "Your a idiot" and "people like you put search and rescuers at risk." Admittedly the video was maybe a tad over-dramatic (self-mocking somewhat even), but I'd hoped the message of safety was paramount. Guess that wasn't received by everyone.

HIGH: Finishing!
It's always a good feeling to end up exactly where I wanted to be 20 days after setting out (it doesn't always turn out that way.) Sure, I gave up a few things along the way, but I also had some unexpected pleasures and in general the trip went off without any major setbacks.

OK -- the pics:


Heading out from Zion's "bonsai" tree


The Barracks


Poverty Wash


Cool Slickrock


Starlight Cave


Kitchen Canyon Falls


Coyote Point


Will the Wanderer


Navajo Canyon


Mr. Tarantula


Atop the Straight Cliffs


Jacob Hamblin Arch


The Black Pool


Lower Coyote Gulch


Stevens Arch above the Escalante


Kayenta Ledges in Stevens Canyon (w/ Joey)


Baker Route View to Halls Creek


Cottonwood in Halls Creek Narrows


Pre-Flood Halls Creek


Flooded Halls Creek


Red Slide Hoodoos


Hamburger Rocks


Final Night along the Fold

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Sounds like a good trip. Great pictures.
Report the graffiti plus any documentation you can provide of it to the land managers- (BLM?). If he can be linked to the area at the same time, he'll have some community hours and fines to look forward to.
Holy moses those photos look amazing.. I haven't read it yet but can't wait to dig into this later.
Sweet trip, Jamal! I watched the full version when you published it earlier this month and I've been waiting for the write up. Man, I know exactly how you feel about the haters on the video. At first I felt like I needed to respond to all the armchair quarterbacks about my Iceberg Flash Flood, but then I decided it was more fun to sit back and laugh at their stupid comments. ;)
Epic trip. Great pictures. Really enjoyed reading the report! I'll go check this out at your website. Thanks.
It was as fun to read about as it was to watch it a while back. Love that rainbow at the end, as if the weather was making a truce with you. Thanks for answering my YouTube comment/questions!
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I thoroughly enjoyed the long video, as usual. :) While watching it about a week ago, I noticed the "H Pollock" inscription at the confluence of Kitchen Canyon and the Paria River. Later that day I was reading an account of the 1866 military expedition led by James Andrus into the upper Paria, Escalante, and Boulder Mountain areas. The expedition would have been among the first white men to explore some of these areas. Listed among the expedition members is Hyrum Pollock. I don't know if he's the one that left the inscription, but it's at least remotely possible. Did you see any other names or dates there?
I don't know if he's the one that left the inscription, but it's at least remotely possible. Did you see any other names or dates there?

Interesting. Who is the Pollock Arch nearby named after? I was thinking it was a rancher from the turn of the century, but could be wrong.

Next to the HPollock inscription is one by Kay Clark May 7, 1930. Both are in the top of this pic, but really hard to make out due to the shine:

Actually... looking back to my old video from 2006, I see a different inscription on the rock from Herman Pollock. I can't read the date, but it looks like 1960 (seems way too late.) Also a Glenn Schonkwiler 1936.

Here's that spot on the video:

(oops, linking to timestamp didn't work. It's at 18:24.)

Actually... looking back to my old video from 2006, I see a different inscription on the rock from Herman Pollock. I can't read the date, but it looks like 1960 (seems way too late.) Also a Glenn Schonkwiler 1936.
Cool, thanks for digging that up. :twothumbs: Steve Allen didn't mention any Pollock inscriptions in regards to either Kitchen Canyon or the Paria, probably 'cause they're just too recent. You probably saved me a trip down there to check them out in person. :D
Wow, fantastic TR and video! Thanks so much for posting it, 'cuz I sure will never be able to do something like that. The flash flood video was impressive, glad you ran out when you did. Awesome pics too, you just made my day. :D Less than two weeks until I'm in Utah!
@Jammer That was one rad trip report and video you got there. Wow....I loved that! Thanks for sharing this awesome adventure. And that flash-flood was amazing, terrifying, but amazing. Well done! You are my backpacking hero right now!
I really like the "Pros/Cons" format. Nice.

Bummer on the neg comments. I liked that vid.
Finally got to read/watch all of this and all I can say is wow!! What an inspiring trip. I'm truly Impressed all around... by the trip itself, your pics, the videography, all of it. Thank you so much for taking the time to compile all of this.
I watched the big vid when I saw it come out on youtube. Really great stuff man. Your editing, and overall commentary are getting better with each trip. I love watching these trips. The scope and size is really admirable.
Great stuff Jamal. On a hike that long do you carry a whole bunch of maps, or just rely on GPS. I also wondered about your food cache as it didn't look like you hung it - how do you stop mice and rats and other scavengers getting at it. What's it wrapped in