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30 by photographer avatarJohn9L
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Escalante RouteNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Nov 01 2014
Backpack26.20 Miles 8,072 AEG
Backpack26.20 Miles2 Days         
8,072 ft AEG
1st trip
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Escalante Route has been on my radar for a couple of years. Finally everything came together and we got it done. I applied for the permit eight days before and it arrived in the mail two days before our departure. These last minute trips are some of my favorites and this one didn’t disappoint!

Lee and I left Phoenix at 5:30am on Saturday. I had a horrible time sleeping the night before and it wore on me all day. We met Niko at Lipan Point at 9:15am and he helped us set up a shuttle as we dropped my jeep near the New Hance Trailhead. The three of us starting hiking down the Tanner Trail around 9:45am. We proceeded down the steep upper portion and started the traverse. Niko said goodbye around the 2.5 mile mark and returned to the rim. Thanks again Niko for the help with the shuttle and it was good hiking with you!

FOTG and I continued hiking and enjoyed the view at the top of the Redwall. From there we made the descent and cruised all the way to the river. We talked to a group of guys from Montana that were spending five days in the Canyon. They were taking their time and loved the Canyon. They commented how “fresh” we looked and were surprised when we told them we were going all the way to Escalante Creek. We said our goodbye and started on the Escalante Route.

The first few miles are relatively easy as you head down river. We took a break at Cardenas Creek where I filtered water out of the Colorado River which was flowing clear. This was a pleasant surprise as it was flowing chocolate brown just two weeks earlier. After our break we hiked up to the hilltop ruins and what a sight it is! The 360 degrees views are fantastic and both of us enjoyed the ruins. After that we continued as the winds picked up. The gusts were extremely strong and it was hard walking in a straight line. It blew us back and forth and you could feel sand and dirt pelting us! The last few miles to Escalante Creek were draining and time consuming. We both wanted to be done for the day! We also wanted to get to camp before dark.

We arrived at Escalante Creek around 5pm and both of us were spent! We had about an hour of daylight so we filtered water and got camp set up. I busted out the party lights and we enjoyed dinner and relaxed as darkness set in. Both of us saw a shooting star streak across the sky. It was quite a sight! We were exhausted and turned in around 8:30pm. Later in the evening I woke to my tent getting pounded by wind! I was worried my tent was going to tear open but it was fine.

We woke around 6:30am and FOTG said it was raining out earlier and wanted to get an early start. I agreed with him. There was rain in the forecast and a threat of snow on the rim. Luckily we had relatively clear skies as we packed up and started my favorite portion of the hike. The first section took us along the top of Seventyfive Mile Creek. I was blown away at this canyon the first time I saw pics of it and felt like a kid on Christmas morning as we dropped down into it! It’s relatively short but oh so sweet! It’s easy going and just breathtaking! We found a dead bobcat about half way down. I wonder what happened to the poor fella.

From there we continued the traverse down river and saw a group of rafters breaking camp. We waved to each other from a distance as we passed. Shortly after we descended back to the river and had to climb the Papago Wall. This is another obstacle I looked forward to. I was concerned we were going to have to climb it in the rain but we had clear skies. The climb up is very straightforward and there are plenty of good hand holds. I don’t think it would be an issue in a moderate rain. We topped out and then descended the Papago Slide. We both took our time and were very careful not to knock any rocks down on top of each other. We both got down fine and headed for Hance Rapid. The Escalante Route portion of our trek was complete.

We took a break at Hance Rapid and topped off our water and had breakfast. From there we started the hike up spectacular Red Canyon. This is another favorite of mine! Red Canyon features the red Hakatai Shale and is such a treat in person. The soft morning sun really brought out the colors and both of us were in heaven! We continued on and started gaining elevation as we neared the Redwall Break. We made decent time and took short breaks as we climbed up the break. We passed a couple at the top and continued south along the Supai traverse. Before long we were in the drainage that leads towards the summit. Again we took numerous short breaks and grinded up the trail.

The temps dropped as we neared the rim and I took a sitting break in the Coconino Break. I had to eat something and put on my fleece and beanie. I felt much better after this and we continued the last few hundred vertical feet back to the rim. Both of us were spent as we topped out around 1:40pm. The jeep was a welcome sight parked a short walk to the east. From there we packed up and drove back to Phoenix without stopping.

This was one hell of a trip and was a lot for an overnighter. I would want an extra day if I ever do this hike again. There are too many sights to have to rush through and the terrain is unforgiving and very taxing. The Canyon never disappoints and never gets old. I’m ready for the next trip! Thanks to FOTG for going with me on this. Good times!
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