24 Hours on the Escalante River

En route from Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon National Park, stopping at the visitor center in Escalante, Utah (population 797) to meet a friend who by coincidence is traveling in the reverse direction, wondering how to spend the afternoon, and the Ranger here has a suggestion:  hike in along the Escalante River.  It’s not one of the trails marketed to the tourist crowd, in fact it’s not an official trail at all, not shown on maps, and remarkably not even listed in the popular apps.  Just be mindful of flash flooding.

My friend arrives, we spend a hour catching up, compare notes on the best hikes in the area, and then resume our separate journeys.  I stare at the map on the wall and ponder a place called Death Hollow, whose creek flows into the Escalante about seven miles in.

I find two maps to download on my phone and a vintage topographic map to buy (it’s paper and needs to be folded to fit in a pocket — how quaint!), fill out the necessary back-country permit, lay out gear and pack it up, charge my phone while eating a hamburger and baked beans, and head off to the trailhead, one eye on the clouds massing in the west….

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24 Hours on the Escalante River