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WT School Escalante 08
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Peter Sustr
(czechxpress) - F - M

Locale: Boulder
WT School Escalante 08 on 10/27/2008 16:11:21 MDT Print View

Hey Everybody,

I wanted to post some info and pics of my recent trip with Wilderness Trekking school 1 in Escalante. It was a great trip that not only taught me, told me and reconfirmed alot of the thoughts and ideas I had about lightweight backpacking but, showed me as well.

I was really excited to go on this trip but for some reason I didn't plan my gear alot. I read alot of books and looked at maps but, not alot of time with my gear. I thought it was strange to have a whole gear plan setup before going there, I wanted to be educated on what was the best of what I had already or had convinced myself was the best by websites and forums.

On my way there leaving from Denver, making the 9 hr drive to Escalante was a exciting trip in itself. My plan was to drive straight to Escalante and hit up a trail I had read about in the guide book but, then I ended up driving into Capitol Reef National Park; that split second I had just changed my plans.
Capitol Reef Entrance

I got a permit at the ranger station for Chimney rock trail and headed straight there. I had a challenge packing my overnight pack since I had a huge vomit pile of gear all over my car that I had planned to 'sort out' once I got there. So I dug around and found enough of the gear I needed and headed out. I slept under an overhang in a wash that was near the trail. It was a great night which i spent hoping that 50 million years of geology wasn't going to crush me in my sleep.
camp under overhang in Captiol Reef

I got to Escalante and met up with some of my other classmates. At about Noon we went to the Escalante-Grandstair Case Visitor Center where we did introductions and started talking about lightweight philosphies and techniques as well as what BPL wanted us to learn and experience. We then decided to go back to Escalante Outfitters (EO) and setup some tarps and shelters.

Tarps at EO

The next day we went back to the visitors center to talk about nutrition, seeing what Andy Skurka and Don Wilson, our instructors, were going to carry with them and ideas on what gear was going to be needed. I had been cold the last couple of nights but, the forcast was for warmer temperatures as the week progressed. I decided on a couple of major changes to my gear and food. 1. I cut out the hydration sleeve and back padding on my Jam2, to have it as Andy has his (Savings 3 oz)

2. I couldn't take my beloved pop-tarts on the trip. Not a good weight/oz ratio and they are just sugar i'm told. I love these things for breakfast, lunch or dinner but, when we were only allowed to bring 26 oz of lunch and snack with us for the next 3 days, it changed my way of looking at food. I thought that this was one of those famous Ryan Jordan tricks you hear rumors about, like missing sections on a map.....

Here is what my 26.2 oz looked like:

26.2 oz food

Officially it was:
1 King Size Snickers
1 ziplock of O.G Pringles
6 Balance Bars (various varities)
2 Clif Bars (Crunchy Peanut Butter!)
1 Sweet & Salty Bar

Here's our groups final pack weights:

Everyones Pack weights

Here is a future shot of why Matt had a higher pack weight; he would not be denied his double ridgerest padding :)

:Double RidgeRests!

We hit the trail on Tuesday afternoon and started our hike in Glen Canyon National Recreational Area at the Coyote Gulch trailhead, going down to the Escalante River and then back out Hurricane wash. Lets just say it was good times!

Glen Canyon

I took about 300 pictures so I obviously won't post them all here but, here are some pics of spots we stayed and the amazing place that it was.

Camp site #1

Above campsite #1

Looking east above campsite:

Looking East above campsite #1

Huge Canyon walls:

Huge Canyon Walls

Canyon Creek

Passed a total of 4 arches/bridges:



Don Wilson showing us unexpectedly how to fight your way out of qucksand (Thanks Don!!); see the video at

Don getting out of quicksand

Walking in water and sandy water to drink, sounds like a good vacation to me!

walking in water

The Escalante River:

Escalante River

Camp # 2

Camp site #2

Andy making us Muffins:

Andy making us muffins:

The last dinner, man were we hungry!

last dinner

and finally, this is what happens when you unleash 12 hungry and thirsty hikers on civilization after a trip!!!

pizza and beer!

Thats about all i got for now, I will try and post more later. I had a great time and want to thank Don Wilson and Andrew Skurka for their wonderful leadership and sharing with us all of there knowledge and ideas. I also want to thank everyone that was on the trip with me, you guys made it soo much fun!!!!

If you have any specific questions let me know.

Thanks for checking this out.

Edited by czechxpress on 10/28/2008 09:55:24 MDT.

Don Wilson
(don) - MLife

Locale: Koyukuk River, Alaska
Re: WT School Escalante 08 on 10/27/2008 20:07:03 MDT Print View

Hey Peter -

Good looking photos! Man that quicksand was pretty thick.


Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
"WT School Escalante 08" on 10/27/2008 20:51:48 MDT Print View

Very nice report and pictures, thanks for sharing on BPL.

Douglas Prosser
(daprosser) - MLife

Locale: Camarillo, California (SCAL)
Great Job on 10/27/2008 23:17:30 MDT Print View

Great pics & comments. I enjoyed hiking with you.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
! on 10/28/2008 08:44:35 MDT Print View

Taking a big, commercial group into the most traveled riparian area in the Escalante drainage?

Not very low-impact.

Peter Sustr
(czechxpress) - F - M

Locale: Boulder
LNT on 10/28/2008 09:58:29 MDT Print View

All of us used LNT principles in all aspects of our trip and was discussed extensively during the course. We saw plenty of examples of people not following LNT but, I can say 100% that we did.

Sean Thompson
(Questtrek) - F

Locale: Michigan
Very cool on 11/02/2008 18:06:11 MST Print View

Very cool, enjoyed the pictures and the report. I bet those muffins were good!

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Very cool on 11/02/2008 18:12:55 MST Print View

Great pictures!! The last one with the beer. Was that the whole groups? That would have been just my amount after a hike!!!!

Seriously though, nice pictures!!

Peter Sustr
(czechxpress) - F - M

Locale: Boulder
WT School Escalante on 11/12/2008 13:44:28 MST Print View

Thanks for the comments on the pics, I did my best Ansel Adams I could :)

We had a good time and yes that was the entire group but, that was only 1 hr after getting there. As you can see we were holding up our laptop with 3 large pizza boxes as well.

It was a good time!

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
WT School Escalante 08 on 11/12/2008 15:43:34 MST Print View

Andy made muffing? THat makes me feel so good, I might start crying tears of joy.

And - Right on for you for cutting some excess stuff off yer pack - and for ditchin' yer pop-tarts!

Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
New Muffin King? on 11/13/2008 09:53:03 MST Print View

Hey Mike,
Is it possible Andy is staging a coup to become the new muffin king?
Watch you back :)

Ryan Hutchins
(ryan_hutchins) - F

Locale: Somewhere out there
Re: New Muffin King? on 11/20/2008 12:00:48 MST Print View

Ha, I thought the same thing as Mike! Andy can be the muffin king, but I still want to teach him how to bake a calzone in the backcounty, mmmmmm.

I love the escalante area, it's been too long since I have gotten in there. Beautiful pics thanks for sharing. I'm glad Don made it out of the quick sand!

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
UL calzone baking on 11/24/2008 09:11:13 MST Print View

Ryan - do you have a good way to make a UL calzone??? If so, let the world know!

Peter Sustr
(czechxpress) - F - M

Locale: Boulder
UL Calzone on 11/24/2008 13:33:56 MST Print View


That sounds good if we can learn how to make a calzone UL, I enjoyed making the muffins this weekend, which worked out better then i thought!!

Also, here is a link to my gear list for the Escalante trip.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Craig Burton

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: WT School Escalante 08 on 11/27/2008 11:31:49 MST Print View

Escalante, Capitol Reef, and the rest of the Colorado Plateu in South-Central Utah must be one of the most spectacular place on earth. I could spend a lifetime just driving back and forth along Highways 12 and 24 through there. Great pictures; and it's good to hear you had an enjoyable and provoking trip. That is a very special place.

Aaron Zuniga
(gliden2) - F

Locale: Northwest
Wt Escalante 08 on 12/13/2008 23:33:33 MST Print View

Great pics and write up. I've been waiting to here more insight and reflections on the WT courses. How many miles were you hiking daily? Way to go with those pack weights, that's seems like a great place to test the limits of ultralite. I'm looking forward for the info on WT 2 TBA! All I know for sure is Spring 09, anybody else know or planning on attending?

Peter Sustr
(czechxpress) - F - M

Locale: Boulder
WT Escalante 08 on 12/16/2008 14:25:24 MST Print View

We didn't do very many miles a day, I would say that we only did about 5 miles a day. The WTS 1 is more about learning the basic techniques of lightweight backpacking then putting in alot of miles. I wished we had hiked more but, that wasn't in the agenda.

I am looking forward to WTS II. I doubt I will be able to attend but from what I heard from our instructors, it will be the same thing as WTS III but, not in the snow; thats the only difference I'm told.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: WT Escalante 08 on 12/16/2008 14:58:51 MST Print View

I believe Ryan is working on the WTS stuff for 09 right now.