Death Hollow Loop via Boulder Mail Trail: Trip Report

Death Hollow trail report
The big pool in the middle of a hike in Death Hollow is just one of the many highlights.  
Death Hollow is an equally challenging and rewarding backcountry experience.  I could say photographing Death Hollow is also challenging and rewarding.  Challenges include:
1.  The long miles of hiking
2.  The multi-day nature of this undertaking
3.  Coping with the ever-present water (dry bag for camera)
4.  Backcountry survival skills
5.  Trail finding on the first crucial day

But the beauty is there, mostly undiscovered and waiting for a man or woman with camera to come and record the wonders of this land and creek.  Because of the incredible things about hiking through Death Hollow, I dedicated a detailed post for each day in my previous posts.  Please see them for details.  

I would do it again.  My wife says she's glad to have done it but is not as sure she would repeat it, often using words like "hard" and "long" when explaining her verdict.  Her trip rating may be different than mine but I'm the judge on my blog so . . .

Gordon's Hike Rating
Hike Difficulty:              ★★★★★  Difficult and requires multi-day expedition
Trail Condition:              ★★  Good in many places, bushwhacking in others.  Cannot get lost if you
                                                  make it into the canyon.  The first day is critical.  
Trail Hazards:                 ★★★★  Steep descents, river crossings, slot canyon risk, poison ivy, car 
                                                  shuttle required, must purify water
Trailhead:                        Boulder Mail Trail at the Boulder Utah airstrip—backcountry sign-in box
Exit Point:                       Escalante Trailhead near Calf Creek and Kiva Koffeehouse
Time required:                Three whole days
Distance:                         21 miles for the whole loop
Off the Beaten Path:       ★★★★★ Yes, far off that path
Scenery:                          ★★★★★ all five stars for spectacular scenery
Photography Potential:   ★★★★★ five stars for amazing original location

Death Hollow Backpack adventure: Day 3

Three twisted cottonwood trees in Escalante Canyon.  This is just one of the cool
discoveries that remain on a trip through Death Hollow.
Day 3 in Death Hollow was all about getting moving.  We had 8 miles from the confluence to our car and a little extra just to reach the confluence.  After a nice breakfast of oatmeal I put on a clean pair of socks.  For a whole 5 minutes I walked without sand, water and grit between my toes.  It was a brief but divine luxury.  We broke camp and started walking.

The stream here is much more flat and shallow . . . so the temptation is to walk faster in the stream . . . which leads to falling down.  I had walked no more than 10 minutes before I slipped and fell hard on my left elbow.  Dang it hurt.  No sense stopping because that would do no good whatsoever.

We kept walking and quickly reached the confluence.  Here the clearer waters of Death Hollow mix with the Escalante River.  The Escalante water looks so thick with sand and sediment that it should support my full weight when walking.  The Escalante Canyon is also vastly wider than Death Hollow.  I'd say it was 10 times wider in most places.  We still had many crossings.
Death hollow backpacking guide blog
Sisters hiking at the confluence of Death Hollow and Escalante River
Death hollow backpacking guide blog
Climbing out of the river and onto the banks of Escalante River
Traveling east in an east-west wide canyon, I expected the sun to shine in my face all morning.  Happily those canyon cliff walls remained high enough to keep us in shade about 50% of the way.  This canyon is beautiful yet different from what we'd experienced in Death Hollow.  Much longer trails led away from the river and were faster foot travel.
Death hollow backpacking guide blog
Trail through Escalante Canyon.  The trails often separate from the river.
Death hollow backpacking guide blog
Escalante Arch
The landmarks on this section of the hike were Escalante Arch and some Anasazi granaries.  Our sore feet kept us from exploring these in close detail.  Both are on the south side of the canyon.  I know the arch could be more photogenic than what I captured but this was a lesser jewel after what we'd experienced the day before.

Here are some photos from the canyon itself and our journey through it.
Death hollow backpacking guide blog
Tall cliffs and wider canyon floor are typical of Escalante Canyon
Death hollow backpacking guide blog
A red monolith towards the end of our journey, where the canyon grows
even more wide and exposed to the sun.
We made it!  We celebrated by eating lunch at the Kiva Koffee House near the trailhead.  I drank water that wasn't from the river for the first time in days.  The lime-mint smoothie tasted better than anything drink I can remember in my whole life.  Yummy food and lots of hydration were a great way to end this amazing trip.