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Zion Traverse and 2 Nights in Escalante
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Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Zion Traverse and 2 Nights in Escalante on 04/30/2013 12:18:14 MDT Print View

As the subject says, I'm traversing Zion NP from May 9-11 and doing an as yet undetermined trip in the Canyons of Escalante May 6-8, but most likely the Egypt TH-Twentyfivemile Wash loop.

Looks like the temps are going to vary between 65-90 during the day and 30-40 at night.

Gear list

Couple questions; should I pack my quilt, synthetic puffy etc in my S2S dry compressions sacks. I always forgo the dry sacks, but this is my first time in the desert with stream crossings in 12 years. I always just pack that stuff is the trash compactor bag to keep dry, which works with rain just fine, but with wading perhaps I should pack the extra weight and be more cautious. I also have recourse to a BPL Cocoon quilt as well.

Tim Drescher
(timdcy) - M

Locale: Gore Range
Re: Zion Traverse and 2 Nights in Escalante on 04/30/2013 16:51:55 MDT Print View

Unless your doing the Narrows, I wouldn't worry about the stuff sack for your quilt and puffy. The water you'll be crossing shouldn't be that high. I also always always bring a water filter instead of my chemical treatment in the desert.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Zion Traverse and 2 Nights in Escalante on 04/30/2013 17:06:36 MDT Print View

Very little water in Zions as of last week. Highs of 85F at higher elevations and lows of 31F. Quite the swing.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Filter vs chemicals on 05/01/2013 12:32:10 MDT Print View

I assume that's because the water is more silty? I only have a Frontier Pro filter, I'm not sure how well that would handle silty water. I suppose I'd filter it through a bandana filter.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Filter vs chemicals on 05/01/2013 12:52:59 MDT Print View

The Virgin River in Kolob isn't bad. But the springs later down the trail are more like trickles. Some standing water. Definitely some silt but not as much as I was expecting. I think the Frontier Pro would work just fine but you may want to do as you suggested - pre-filter. I might take some back up chemicals just in case the filter plugs....

I just got back and want to go again. Loved the trip. And that crazy grouse.

Tim Drescher
(timdcy) - M

Locale: Gore Range
Re: Re: Filter vs chemicals on 05/01/2013 17:48:33 MDT Print View

We're all waiting to hear if a certain grouse whose mad at life is still staking out Potato Hollow. Let us know.

La Verkin Creek is downstream of a supposed cattle grazing area and carries a lot of silt. Like Dave said though, good looking water coming out of Kolob Canyon. Even though the water looks nice and tasty in Hop Valley there's also open cattle grazing there as well. Didn't see the cows, but saw the pies. The water you encounter near Wildcat Canyon looked very clean to me (Blue Creek). I only saw one small spring/still pond in Potato Hollow but it was right by our campsite so there was no need to explore.

Have a good trip!

Anton Solovyev
(solovam) - M

Locale: Colorado, Utah
Re: Zion Traverse and 2 Nights in Escalante on 05/01/2013 22:42:38 MDT Print View

It seems southern Utah is pretty dry this year. The pictures I saw from last weekend did not show Escalante being high at all. That said, two years ago in the first week of June Escalante was so high, we were being swept at some crossings (6 feet plus). Another time we were hiking up lower Escalante in October and some of the crossings were thigh deep. With some quick sand we were wet up to waists.

Bottom line, if I am going into wet canyons, I am carrying dry bags. I prefer these:

http://www.backcountry.com/sea-to-summit-lightweight-dry-sack

I typically use one or two 35L ones which fits all of my gear.

Everything I don't want wet goes into dry bags. Then I don't care about falling into water, stepping into an invisible deep hole or having to swim. Dry bags also give flotation. Make sure the pack belt is on and tight, roll on back and swim. The upper body being out of the water makes it warmer. Not sure about your route, perhaps you won't encounter any pools in canyons where you must swim to get through, but this would be another case when dry bags are essential.

You can find USGS river gauges for Escalante and most other rivers on the Internet. That will give an idea of what to expect. If it rains you might get a lot more water all of sudden.

P.S. If I had to choose one route in Escalante it would be Coyote Gulch. Probably lots of people this time of year, but absolutely best desert backpack ever. No need for dry bags there.

Edited by solovam on 05/02/2013 00:23:26 MDT.

Anton Solovyev
(solovam) - M

Locale: Colorado, Utah
Re: Filter vs chemicals on 05/01/2013 23:05:47 MDT Print View

I think in Zion you ought to be able to find good (not mineralized or salty) and clear water everywhere.

Water in Escalante is muddy. Fence canyon has small clear flow. Twentyfive Mile? haven't been there. Coyote has perennial flow and has some gorgeous springs. Runs muddy after rains.

Cows are pretty much everywhere, so treating water is probably a requirement (unless it's a spring where water flows directly out of sandstone).

Edited by solovam on 05/02/2013 00:38:10 MDT.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Filter vs chemicals on 05/02/2013 00:27:53 MDT Print View

"I think in Zion you ought to be able to find good (not mineralized or salty) and clear water everywhere."

True, but apparently the snow pack was minimal this year.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Filter vs chemicals on 05/02/2013 06:45:25 MDT Print View

So is the point of a filter vs chemicals that you can pump out of shallow seeps? Because my Frontier Pro doesn't work like that, I wonder if it's worth bringing? My trip plans involve flowing water sources(Coyoto Gulch, thanks to all the recommendations here) and Zion(staying both night near enough to springs (Wildcat Canyon, West Rim #2) that maybe filter through a bandada plus aqua mira might be fine? I have 5L water carrying capacity and since I'm using narrow mouth platys I should add my 2oz collapsible funnel to my list.

This is my first time away from clear flowing Sierra Nevada streams and lakes, so I'll be living and learning.

Anton Solovyev
(solovam) - M

Locale: Colorado, Utah
Re: Re: Re: Re: Filter vs chemicals on 05/02/2013 10:05:10 MDT Print View

My use of chemical treatment is just something I am used to. My experience in Zion has been that water is plentiful, good and flowing. Many canyons on the west side of Escalante also have water. You probably would not have to deal with seeps, but rather with flowing water or at worst some standing pools.

Water carrying requirements obviously depend on your consumption. For me carrying more than 4 liters is not practical (too heavy). Of course it depends on the outside temperatures, but normally I assume that 4 liters covers my needs for one day (and some).

If you need more information on the routes, then Michael Kelsey's non-technical canyoneering book and Steve Allen's Canyoneering 3 are great sources. For Zion, Tom Jones' guide is standard. On the Internet I would check http://climb-utah.com/, "Average Joe Road Trips" and "Todd's Desert Hiking Guide". For questions on the current conditions check forums on http://bogley.com/ and http://canyoncollective.com, you can ask for current info there.

***

If you somehow can fit it on the way between Zion and Escalante, Buckskin Gulch is a great destination. It would give a taste of a slot canyon. If you are fast, you can hike down Buckskin and up Paraia in a day easily. Or camp at the confluence. Do check conditions for a possibility of mud or mandatory swims. It is likely dry however. Be very mindful of thunderstorms (flash flooding).

In Escalante area (although not normally backpacks) the flowing creeks like Calf Creek, Boulder Creek, Deer Creek are all awesome hikes. The more water, the better the route. If nothing else, just hike to lower Calf Creek falls from bottom and top on the last day.

***

Looking at your gear list, you seem to be really minimalistic. So, perhaps a light silnylon 35L dry bag might work well. If it does not last long, no big deal.

If the forecast is completely dry, you could leave rain gear at the trailhead. Coyote Gulch has some massive alcoves and overhangs in the upper part (like 100 yards deep) and some small overhangs lower. Potentially you could just use a bivvy.

***

In the late May or June (depending on the year) high and open areas in Utah start getting tiny gnats (Escalante). Any wind or any movement will eliminate them. They are not active at night. But if you are parked and no wind and gnats are swarming, it's really hard. Long sleeves and a small head net will make a huge difference. DEET does not work.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Filter vs chemicals on 05/04/2013 13:21:31 MDT Print View

I completed the Trans Zions Trek a week ago and can confirm that past Kolob, there is very little water. Only smallish trickles with some minimal standing water. Very dry this year.