Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hance-Escalante-Tanner Trip - Day 2

Day 2, the Escalante Route, was the heart of the trip for me, the reason I planned the adventure. On the second day we experienced the Papago slide, the Papago wall, Seventy-file Mile Canyon, Escalante Creek and the beach at Cardenas Creek. Plus, the day ended with an unexpected treat!

Cliffs drop into deep water on the down river side of Papago Creek making it impossible to walk along the river for about fifty feet. To bypass this spot it's necessary to climb up the Papago slide, hike up river about 100 yards and then climb down the Papago wall. The break in the cliff and the slide seem unreal, almost Hollywood-ish. The slide and the wall were two of the spots I enjoyed anticipating.

Escalante Route
Todd climbing the Papago slide.

Escalante Route
Todd leaving the Papago wall that we down climbed to return to river level.

One mile up river of Papago Creek is Seventy-five Mile Canyon and another section of impassable cliffs. We went up the narrow canyon to a spot where it was possible to climb out and turn back north toward the river and Escalante Creek.

Escalante Route
Climbing around a choke stone in Seventy-file Mile Canyon.

Escalante Route
Returning to the Colorado River above Seventy-five Mile Canyon.

At Escalante Creek the long part of the day began. We left the river and began a 1,300 feet climb to bypass another section of cliffs. This detour took us almost six miles across a route that at one point was almost two miles from the river.

One we started back toward the river at Cardenas Creek we had basically a long gradual pleasant downhill. Here's part of the description from the literature that made this trip attractive to me.

Escalante Route
We stopped for lunch in the small area of shade in the center of this photo.

Escalante Route
Our destination is a beach behind the ridge in the top of this photo.

The trail crosses the unnamed drainage and traverses west toward the crest of the ridge north of Escalante Creek. Caution is indicated throughout this area, as there are may places where you will want to avoid a misstep at all cost. Some sections offer a walking surface about a boot-sole wide while traversing slopes that fall steeply away for hundreds of feet. Take your time and walk with care. The exposure may appear dramatic but truly is comfortable hiking. The trail seems to traverse west forever...

When we reached the crest of the last ridge before the beach we saw several rafts at the beach. It turned out the rafts were a training trip for river guides and several commercial companies were represented. The training was being conducted by the park service. Present were geologists from the University of New Mexico, National Park Service employees, botanists, ecologists and others. In addition to training, the group was removing invasive species and sampling travertine.

Escalante Route
Todd in the lead in an area of easy hiking.

Escalante Route
Campsite on the beach at Cardenas.

The treat at the end of the day was an invitation to supper! Rafts carry lots of food, ice and drinks. Rather than eat a dehydrated meal, Todd and I had grilled chicken, fresh green beans, pasta salad and a garden salad with tomatoes, carrots and other vegetables. Dessert was cheese cake. I haven't eaten cheese cake in years but on this occasion I indulged.

The first day was tiring. The second day was almost as long but was varied and exhilarating. I'd like to do this section of the trip again

Escalante Route
The rafting party packing up for another day on the river.


Blogger Unknown said...

That looks like a great trip! How difficult is the climb down the papago wall? It seems like most people hike it in the other direction.

7/27/2012 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger Paul said...


I think most people do hike the opposite direction but I couldn't get a permit for the days needed so reversed the trip.

The wall was much easier than the slide. I took off my pack and moved it from ledge to ledge but my partner climbed down the wall wearing his pack.

7/27/2012 03:46:00 PM  

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