Thursday, July 14, 2011

We Need Your 2011 Trip Report

Did you float the river this year?  Capture some great photos?  Amazing side trips?  Awesome Videos?

We want to Share Your Trip Report!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

River Trip - View Progress

I leave on Friday 5/27 for 9 days.  We are traveling from Highway 12 to Lake Powell.  You can view our progress from the link below:

Spot Adventures

Sunday, May 8, 2011

River Update - A Great Week to Run

 If you have been wondering - waiting - or holding off over the last few years, Now is the time to be running the Escalante River.

Look at the progression over the last few days.  If you are on the river this week I would love to hear from you!

A storm is on the way into the area with temperatures dropping.  It will be curious to watch the flows over the next 48 hours  to see what happens.

I am in the middle of my own trip preparations for this year and have lots of additional information coming.  In the mean time, a few years ago I did a there-and-back in Escalante with my GF and our younger kids.  To get everything there we enlisted the help of her teenage son and friends.

With tight jeans and stocking caps they certainly seemed out of place in the desert sun, I had recently read a trip report of a group utilizing Pack Lamas on a guided trip.  While traveling we labeled the teenagers - who were carrying a bulky load, the PACK EMO's.

My buddy Marcus from enjoyed the story -and at my request drafted this quality piece on his site.  Come to find out Emo is a deprecated term to the guys and they prefer some other term, not currently in need of their services, I forget.  

Friday, April 29, 2011

Trip Planning - Maps

We're all pilgrims on the same journey - but some pilgrims have better road maps.
Nelson DeMille

GPS Devices might fail, there's water, wind and sand - the perfect disaster if that's all your carrying.  We will save the electronics discussion for later.  So, what should you take?

There are 2 essential maps you should travel with if you are floating the most popular routes from Highway 12.

If you have not discovered the guide maps from RiverMaps then you will absolutely love this website.  These are downriver maps for every mile of the trip.  This is a must have on the trip, and if you only take one, make it this water resistant book.

National Geographic Maps has some of the most accurate maps of the southwest.  This one contains river mile tics as well as providing additional details of side canyons. 

Where are we? 

Trip Planning - Escape Routes

Tomorrow is the 30 day mark for my anticipated launch date this year.  As always, I have been scavenging around the internet for recent updates, trip reports or information.

I have to give it to you packrafters - seems that you are the best at Trip Reporting information.  I have been reading your posts recently and as usual am surprised at some of the mis-information that gets out there.

One recent posters experience after making it to the GSESM Visitors Center in Escalante Utah surprised me the most, but was also reminiscent of my first experience as well.   After traveling some distancing this person checked-in for the required backcountry pass and was told, as he explains...."they told me the river was kinda all or nothing".

What a dis function for the poor packer, of all types of paddlers - the Escalante River is truly most accessible to you!

This brought me head on with the very important topic of ESCAPE Routes.  They will certainly mention them to you if you stop by the office to get your pass.  Mater of factly, if I remember my own experience correctly.  Because the numbing had already set in for me by that point of my first visit, I didn't pick up the topic for further discussion - only reassured them that it was included in all of our trip planning, and was noted or relevant maps being used.

I will do my best below to list them in order passed along the way, starting from the Highway 12 put-in.  If you are using a different location - your put-in will likely be noted as a possible exit route.  If you know of a useful route not mentioned please let me know.

Important Note:  Help can be a long way off in the river basin.  Cell phone service will NOT work and should not be relied upon.  Even if help is contacted they could be hours away from your location.  In severe circumstance a river escape may be your only option.  However - just because you are out of the basin does not mean that roads are not miles away.

Escalante River Escape Routes

1.)  This first mile or more is private property with houses and cabins nearby.
2.)  Mile 6.3 Boulder Creek.
 If you make it this far and need out your best bet would be to turn around and take the trail back toward the highway.  Phipps Canyon could be used also.
3.) Mile 6 - 12 -  Ladder Canyon LKA
At mile 10.5 is an unnamed exit right locally known as Ladder.
4.)  Mile 13- 18 The Gulch.
At mile 15.4 is The Gulch, it's 8.4 miles to the trail head from here.   Note:  There is a ladders exit in the The Gulch, however the main canyon exit is an easier route.
5.) Mile 19 - 24 Lower Sand Slide
This overland route will get you out of the river drainage.  From the top of the dune locate the pink dome on the right.
6.)  Mile 25 - 30 Harris Wash:
Located at mile 29.2 this is one of the most popular canyons in the area.
7.) Mile 31 - 36 Fence Canyon.
Located at mile 35.8  in the Egypt 3 area this is the SHORTEST route out, it is also a popular destination because of it's proximity to Neon.
8.) Mile 37 - 42 Twenty Five Mile Wash
Located at mile 41.9 this is also a major trail exit.
9.) Mile 43 - 48  Moody Creek
At mile 48, this is 1 of 3 with this name.
10.) Mile 49 - 54 Scorpion Gulch
Located at mile 55.  You are 8.8 miles from the trail head.
11.) Mile 55 - 61.  Fold Canyon
Mile 60.8 leads to this lengthy climb.
12.)  Mile 62 - 67  Hydra Canyon
At mile 65.5 this would be a difficult canyon to climb out of.
13.)  Mile 68 - 73 None
14.)  Mile 74 - 79 Coyote Gulch
At mile 75.4 is a main take-out for those leaving the river, this is the Crack-in-the-wall route.  This is also the last meaning exit before Lake Powell.
15.) Mile 80 - 85 Explorer Canyon
This will be your pick-up location on the lake.

None of these routes identified are easy, if you are injured attempting any of these could be foolish.  The shortest route out is at Fence Canyon, located almost in the middle of the trip for those exiting at Coyote Gulch.  This route is just over 3 miles with the most difficult section being the last 800 foot ascent.  Most of these exit river right, The Gulch and Moody Creek being the notable exception.

Good luck in your trip planning and be safe!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Planning the Right Trip for YOU

As my loved ones sometimes reminds me, there is a fine line between carefully planning the right trip and obsessing over the potential of unknowns.  Well - she's right!  There is a fine line - very fine.

To me it seems simple, if you are the type of person willing to take the risk - travel 85 miles of life changing terrain to get a glimpse of the best scenery anywhere to be found - well, then you are also the person willing to put up the boot work to make it happen.

The above Itinerary is from my 2010 Solo trip of May/June.  I used the layout of the previous year trip because it seemed to work well for me and provide the type of details I wanted to keep a hands reach.  It's lacking some information that you may want to add for you trip.

Most noticeably one could point out it does not have Escape routes or known water sources.  I will supplement these in their own postings later.

Considerations for building your trip
  1. Consider your limits and those in your party.   Don't plan your failure, keep within what you know you have done before.  
  2. Write down your plan.  Give your loved ones a break, worse case they know where to start looking.
  3. Make room for changes.  You don't know what's around that next turn.  If you don't have the time to give yourself then you will be really late after the rescue!
  4. Add useful information.  Site seeing is probably why you are there, note the places you want to stop.
  5. Include distances.  It helps estimate travel time and tracks adherence to the schedule.
  6. Keep it handy.  It's reassurance when moving that you are on-track and on time.  The take-out on Lake Powell is at least $350 and will charge you if you miss.
  7. Add notes.  Time forgets all things - and you will too.  It will add to next years plan or make a great souvenir.   

In The News

If you have picked up the May 2011 copy of Canoe & Kayak then you had to notice the centerfold article with the great shot of Stevens Arch.

It's no wonder this secret slips out more and more.  With the water levels close to record levels this year it will be interesting to see how much pressure the river gets.  If you are going out, preparedness is your best defense.

With the beautiful scenery around almost every turn its no wonder that it's easy to forget the details and preparation needed for such an adventure.

With the season around the next warm turn I will start to create a few straight technical details post for anyone new this year needing that hard to find information.  If nothing else, a good place to start could be the River Runners Guide to Utah and Adjacent Areas.

The last thing anyone wants is for someone to get injured out there.  When stopping by the BLM office in Escalante you might notice that they are very cautious even hesitant to issue a river travel permit.  When I was there the first year running the river, they also didn't have staff on-site that could adequately speak about current hazards or conditions.

Back to the press...  It is worth noting that although the river is listed as a Class I-II river there are enough obstacles, changing or unknown conditions and impressive currents at even modest flows.  It's a great river for almost anyone with enough enthusiasm to take it on, but not to be considered lightly or attempted unprepared.

Without much delay I will publish Itinerary, Escape Route, Maps and Gear, Water and Take-Out information that will assist in your planning for the weeks to come.  The flow is still low and recent storms in Utah have both added to the snow pack and kept temperatures cool, this may be a year where a mid June trip could be anticipated.

Be safe, more to come.