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Escalante Route-Tanner to New Hance, AZ
mini location map2014-03-23
13 by photographer avatarPrestonSands
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Escalante Route-Tanner to New Hance, AZ 
Escalante Route-Tanner to New Hance, AZ
Backpack avatar Mar 23 2014
Backpack26.92 Miles 8,900 AEG
Backpack26.92 Miles2 Days         
8,900 ft AEG38 LBS Pack
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1st trip
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Once upon a time, David led an eagle, a turtle, a wallaby, a pelican and a yeti into a big hole in the ground...

Sunday morning came early, and all of us met in Happy Valley for the journey north to the grandest of canyons. The Dave-Mobile and the Wally-Wagon regrouped at McDonalds in Flagstaff for a quick breakfast before making the drive through Cameron to Lipan Point on the South Rim. We stashed the Wally Wagon near the New Hance trailhead and then began our hike down the Tanner Trail. Bob had already disappeared atop the rocky ledges of Escalante and Cardenas Buttes by the time Dave, Wally and I caught up to Denny and Bruce. The impossibly huge cliffs of the Palisades kept watch as we journeyed down, while a series of backpackers and the temperatures were coming up. Bob later materialized like a glowing, orange-shirted beacon sometime after lunch.

Reaching the frigid blue-green waters of the mighty Colorado River, we cooled down and watered up for the next leg of our journey: west on the Escalante Route. We pushed our way downriver through sandy beach deposits, mesquite and cacti as the afternoon wore on. Leaving the river bottom, we scrambled up a ridge to Hilltop Ruin, an impressive sight in front of the Palisades' backdrop. Next up were the red cliff walls falling straight down into Unkar Creek Rapids, another classic scene I had long hoped to lay eyes upon.

Afternoon shadows were growing long as we trudged south up to the high ridge separating Cardenas and Escalante Canyons, which we then began the long traverse around. I studied the toothy ridge top above, locating what my dad called "Butchart's Notch", that he had used as a shortcut back in 1988. The afternoon was almost gone when we descended into the twisting, rocky confines of Escalante Canyon, past a massive pour-off dryfall. Six exhausted hikers reached the mouth of Escalante Creek at dusk and quickly set up camp next to the roaring freight train known as the Colorado River. We spent the evening refueling, rehydrating and relaxing. I managed to take a few night photos. Sleep came easily that night.

The next morning we were up, packed, and on the trail by 7 am, heading downriver along rocky shelves as the first rays of golden sunlight peaked through the Inner Gorge, contrasting nicely with the turquoise of the river. Rounding a corner, the sheer walled chasm of 75 Mile Creek appeared. We marched along its precarious rim before somehow dropping into its slot canyon like depths. A little further down river we came upon the Pueblo Wall, which I was surprised to see was only a short, rocky scramble. Undoubtedly it would have been a bit easier without having had huge packs on, but we nonetheless made it past this fun little obstacle quickly. Pueblo Slide followed shortly after, where we cautiously descended the boulder littered debris slope. All trials now over, we quickly reached Hance Rapids, a place I had not visited since age 14, and one I was thrilled to see again. We took a break at the river and reloaded on water for the hike out.

The sun was upon us now, and the canyon was growing quite warm. South we headed on the New Hance Trail, up the gravelly floor of aptly named Red Canyon. Shady spots were few but welcome for breaks along the way. After a sweat inducing climb we surmounted the Redwall, where the air was noticeably cooler. We traversed the Supai's trademark, trail-destroying, landslide boulder-disaster for awhile, with a lunch break along the way. John Hance's old route finally took us out of Red Canyon and into the Coconino Sandstone, where we began the final challenge of the day, climbing up to the South Rim.

Our exhausted group of six reassembled along the highway at the New Hance trailhead, and piled into the Wally-Wagon, which took on the appearance of a clown car with all of us and our gear crammed inside somehow. We made the comical ride back to Lipan Point, where the mystery of the missing chicken sandwich was solved when Dave popped open his trunk. We split up and left the Canyon at this point to head back to Phoenix. Wally, Denny and I stopped at La Fonda in Flagstaff for a delicious Mexican dinner along the way.

I reached my parent's house in Tempe later that night, where my dad and I showed each other photos and swapped stories of our Escalante trips, mine now, and his 26 years earlier. It was great to follow in his footsteps and see the places he had told me about over the years. :)

Dave, Bruce, Wally, Denny and Bob: I had a blast with you guys, let's do it again! :y:

Thanks for organizing this one Dave, it was an outstanding adventure and I can't thank you enough! :worthy:
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"As soon as I can I’m sneaking back in them mountains..." -Johnny Paycheck
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