Escalante Trip Report

It’s only been a couple of weeks, and I will need a lot more time to digest this latest trek thru the Utah canyonlands and high desert. Depending on your perspective, it was either an epic adventure or a foolhardy foray – I personally haven’t decided which yet…

Anyway, I spent 12 days solo in the Utah backcountry. The first 3 were a “warm-up” 40 mile RT backpack/bike ride through the upper Escalante River canyons. It was a great way to get a feel for the land and the river, which I definitely needed later…

The biggest part of the trip was an 8-day, 95 mile backpack, bike, and packraft trip thru the heart of the Escalante Canyons. Day 1 I ran all my rafting equipment down to the river, then returned to the canyon rim at Egypt trailhead and camped there in a wind storm. The next day I drove my car to the Redwell trailhead, and pedaled the 26 miles back to Egypt, donned my full pack, and headed down Fence Canyon to where I stowed my rafting gear. Morning began four days on the Escalante River, running the rapids in my one-man packraft – a truly challenging, terrifying adventure, much harder than I thought it would be (mostly because I had never packrafted before! Next time I’ll do more homework before embarking on a new adventure!) On day 7 I exited the river at Coyote Gulch, loaded all my equipment onto my back, and took two days to hike out Coyote Gulch, by far one of the most stunning places on Earth. The car was still at the trailhead after 8 days, and the beer was even semi-cold!!!

It was definitely a challenging adventure, mostly because I did it solo and self-supported and had no room for error - it pushed me to my mental, physical and spiritual limits; but it was 100% without a doubt where I was supposed to be, it was what I was supposed to do. I take with me not only enduring images of beauty and a sense of accomplishment, but also a deep peace, a clarity of vision, and a much clearer understanding of life’s priorities and simple beauty.

Some pictures from the trip (best viewed on full screen slideshow mode)…

Congrats on knocking it out solo! I was about to ask here if anyone went there in the end.
Great pics - the ‘snakeskin’ reflections are cool. Like you say it’s great when you catch your breath and it dawns on you you’re not necessarily going to die and you won’t have to cut your arm off :wink:
I was there in early April with a new Yak, a bit too early I think so didn’t have the time or nerve to throw myself into it. Settled for a splash on Lake Powell and good recce of the ins and outs for next time. Otherwise I suspected it may have ended up as an epic.
The way you did it with a bike sounds like the textbook solo approach.

Chris S


You did an excellent job of capturing the essence of your wonderful adventure for us. Truly a beautiful area and an inspiring trip… thanks!