Looking for some brains to pick.
We are heading to Grand Staircase-Escalante NM (Utah) in August. I would like to do an overnight or 2 day backpack into the monument.
I am looking for someone that might have some intel on areas to go to, things to see, what to stay away from etc. Also, any one with helpful tips for traveling in these dry areas would be welcome. All my experience is in the lush boreal forests of the northeast! Whole family is going, 3 kids ranging from 12-17.
Any advice, send it our way!!
There are a few ways to go about it - out and back from the end (usually a four+ day trip) or a loop from the end (we did it in two days). You park at the end of the "hole in the rock" road - It can get very sandy, so if you don't have high clearance with AWD or 4x4, you might have to park at the second to last parking area (red wash watering tank, or something of the sort?)
The trail starts across some rolling sandstone - follow the cairns. Then you drop down the "Crack in the Wall" - one of the sketchier parts of the trip. Consider a small rope to lower your packs down (I had 20 ft of 4mm cording that worked fine). This trail takes you down a basin towards the confluence of Coyote and Escalante rivers. When you get to the bottom, you head up Coyote Gulch towards the Jacob Hamlin Arch. There are a few waterfalls you have to navigate around but nothing too crazy. There were lots of older couples out there doing it. There is a trail that goes up the whole thing, but we opted to walk up the river most of the way.
There is a lot of dispersed camping and some clean, freshwater springs near the arch.
The next sketchier spot is coming up "Jacob's Ladder" a climbing up a sandstone wall that's probably 35+°, This is the only way out of the gulch without going all the way to the end. Follow the cairns from the top to the road and head back toward your car.
As a bonus, Spooky, Peek-a-boo, and Brimstone slot canyons are on the road into Coyote. We went up Peek-a-boo, and down Spooky (there is one scramble that you have to do a bit of a jump down, that wouldn't work so well coming up). That loop only took us an hour and a half or so. I'll post some pics in a bit. From what I remember, Brimstone is more on the techy/scary side.
Somewhere in the middle of this post is the Coyote Gulch / Spooky / Peek-a-boo TR.
I'm totally unfamiliar with that area unfortunately but I can throw out a couple of back packing tips for the southwest. Maybe this is stuff is super obvious for you but you would be surprised how little people know or understand about traveling in the desert.
For one thing, August can be gnarly! Think 115 in the sun by noon and then drenching/flooding monsoon storms at any moment. If there are clouds building and even if they look like they are 50 miles away be careful of deep washes and slot canyons. Flash floods are seriously deadly.
Have a bitchen full brimmed sun hat, I even take a bandana, fold it over and drape it over my head so both sides and the back of my head are completely covered and then pull the hat down over the bandana. Keep everything covered, wear cotton long sleeved shirts and pants. It really will help keep your body temperature down. Skin exposed to the sun here fries the heck out of you. I sort of create my own little cave, if you do this you ha e shade every where you go. Those folks in Saudi Arabia know a thing or two about desert survival!
Carry more water than you think you need to unless you have a reliable water source along your route. Water weight sucks but you will need more than any trip that you are used to. The dry air down here and the sun will literally suck the life out of you.
Get your hiking for the day done by 11. When I'm in the GC and its hot I wake up a little before the sun starts to rise. I'll make coffee and have an energy bar, skip the big breakfast and get moving. I'll keep some jerky and those juicy energy bites in my pocket to keep me going. Save the big meals for dinner when it starts to cool down. Eating a lot in the south west heat and walking all day don't really go together so well.
For just two days you can go pretty light on gear obviously but I would have light weight rain gear, I like a tent too. I have done the tarp thing but if the winds come in it kind of sucks. If the weather looks right you can get away with just a sheet instead of a sleeping bag.
Have a bitchen full brimmed sun hat, I even take a bandana,
Si gringo. I have a sombrero left over from halloween one year. Works awesome and funny thing is, chicks dig it. I wear it on the boat. When moored at Sandy Bay, girls renting SUPs from Patties often comment on it as they paddle by.
As they're generally young and nice looking my own "chica " gets mad.