Death Hollow Backpacking Adventure: Day 1

grassy trail through sublime Death Hollow, Utah
Trail and Towers:  exploring Death Hollow is a wonderfully rich experience in adventure,
photography, nature, serenity.
Death Hollow is a fabulous adventure and a photographic destination.  The photographic potential for this scenic locale is off the charts because there are 21-miles of pristine wilderness that are rarely visited and even less-rarely photographed seriously.  Death Hollow has been on the top of my radar for years and this summer I hiked the wonderful loop.  

Starting the night before, my wife and I drove to the Boulder airstrip and the adjacent trailhead.  We arrived with rain imminent.  Through the night we had lightening to the north but slept well.  The mid-July forecast was for 10% chance of rain but no flash flood warnings.  

We woke to clearing skies and pleasant temperatures.  I could have worn shorts but I'd heard about the poison ivy and bushwhacking.  The trip to Death Hollow goes roughly southwest from the trailhead.  The trail is good with cairns along the way.  When we reached sandstone, those cairns kept leading us down to Sand Creek.  
Death Hollow hiking guide backpack
Cairns along the way over slickrock
Sand Creek has water year round, or so I've read.  The rain had recently fallen so we were not surprised to see many tanks filled with water and even some flowing water in the creek.  After only 2 miles hiking, we did not require a refill on our water so we kept hiking.  The hike up out of Sand Creek left me huffing and puffing but it was relatively short.
Death Hollow hiking guide backpack
Sand creek:  volcanic boulders and white sandstone with pine trees.
Death Hollow hiking guide backpack
Hikers at Sand Creek:  water runs here all year
Death Hollow hiking guide backpack
Hiking up from Sand Creek:  sun started feeling really hot now.
Death Hollow hiking guide backpack
Two Trees:  these lovely trees contrasted in so many ways.
With the beautiful skies, I had to stop for a photoshoot.
A cool historical piece of information is that the telegraph line from Escalante to Boulder followed this route.  The telegraph wire runs along this trail in many places, even suspended in the air as it runs from tree to tree.  Seeing this assured me we were on the correct path.
Death Hollow hiking guide backpack
Telegraph line and Author:  the trail follows the old
telegraph line from bygone days.  
Correct path?  Did I say correct path?  We came out at the dropoff over Death Hollow and I had to reconnoitre some.  The cairns led off over this sandstone ledge that seemed to drop off into nowhere.  I worried we were in the wrong place but how could this be?  The big fin at the bottom of the canyon is easily recognized as the place we were supposed to be.  I just wasn't sure how to get there.
Death Hollow hiking guide backpack
Route down appears to disappear over this ridge.  Follow the cairns and
you'll discover this is the correct way.  I had my doubts at first.
We followed the cairns and as they went over the ridge, the safe path became obvious.  It just took a little travel down the path to become convinced it was correct.  Following are several photos of the trip down.  We had one member of our group afraid of heights.  She got quite nervous but made it down just fine.  Although you drop 700 vertical feet into the canyon, there is NO place where you are exposed to a huge dropoff.  If you have that on your trip, you are on the wrong path.
Death Hollow hiking guide backpack
On the trail
Death Hollow hiking guide backpack
Rough sketch of how the trail descends to the canyon floor.
Death Hollow hiking guide backpack
Loving the adventure!
Death Hollow hiking guide backpack

Death Hollow hiking guide backpack
2/3 down, here's a view looking back up with a sketch of how the trail goes down.  
Death Hollow hiking guide backpack
Nearing the bottom of Death Hollow
Once at the bottom, we ate a picnic along the creek under pleasant shade.  The uphill portion of our journey was all done.  We also would be near or in water the rest of the trip.  We began crossing the stream to find the trails which went from side to side.  No sense trying to stay dry.  We went around several curves in the canyon. 
Death Hollow hiking guide backpack
A pretty curve in the canyon we encountered on day 1. 
The water depth varied from a few inches to 3 feet.  
About 3 in the afternoon, clouds grew dark and it looked like rain.  We looked for an alcove for some type of shelter.  We found one with sand in a narrow strip for our beds.  
Death Hollow hiking guide backpack
The shallow alcove on the lower left of this butte was our home for the night.  
Our camp for the night was narrow but under some shelter.  It rained briefly but not hard a couple of times.  We stayed mostly dry.  I explored and found several better campsites near the river but they afforded no shelter from wind or rain so we stayed here.  We did not bring tents on this trip in an effort to travel lighter.
Death Hollow hiking guide backpack
Cooking dinner under a shallow alcove.  We slept on the sand.
Death Hollow hiking guide backpack
Gourmet dinner thanks to my wife:  chicken, veggies and couscous.
We ate wonderful food for dinner.  I did some photography downstream from our camp until sunset and then returned for a night of deep sleep.