by Peggy DePersia, guest blogger
Did anyone ever suggest that you: “Just go; take a hike”?
There are certainly numerous ways that such a mandate might be interpreted but all kidding aside, have we got a hike for you!
Though my husband, Jerry, and I are interested in similar kinds of experiences, it is often a matter of degree. For this particular destination experience, I chose the ‘vicarious’ route; not that I wasn’t interested and not that I hadn’t experienced a couple of rigorous hikes myself, including the Grand Canyon.
This hike commanded a particular kind of ardor and a guide for sure.
The Escalante National Monument in south eastern Utah spans nearly 1.9 million acres of America’s Public Lands. It’s size, resources, and remote character provide extraordinary opportunities for scientific research, education and exploration if one is especially inclined. Think: geologists, paleontologists, archeologists, historians and biologists alike. Even regular folk can experience the thrill and wonder of the natural explorer in such a place. You get the gist I’m sure.
In addition to the cliffs and terraces that comprise the “Grand Staircase’ across the Kalparowits Plateau are the wondrous canyons of the Escalante River Basin. And thus our story begins.
Described as a “pretty rugged area”, the final descent into a remote ‘slot canyon’ from the plain above was made without the 35 lb. pack needed for the 3 day hike and was facilitated by the guide, Shawn, advising the hikers where to place their feet as they slid to the sandy bottom of a side canyon; a steep descent.
The ‘descent’ accomplished, the hike truly begins. There is the Escalante River to be traversed, yes, 40 times; zig-zag. There are steep canyon walls to be weaseled through like elegant yet narrow and very steep open air passageways. There are campsites to be set up and taken down, dehydrated food to be brought to life (pretty yummy I heard), a beautiful night sky with stars and the magical “La Luna’ to be admired from one’s mummy style sleeping bag and air mattress, uniques flora and fauna to be appreciated, pictographs and petroglyphs peppering the way and, if that weren’t enough, there is even a bit of ‘quick sand’ to be negotiated. My husband determined that quick sand means move quickly, NO LINGERING, as the sand if very soft. Thank ones’ lucky stars for close canyon walls with protruding tree branches; in this case, certainly not an obstacle, the tree branches that is.
So, there you have it. The ascent out of the canyon was the culmination of the 3 day hike. The guide, about 20 years the hikers junior congratulated the guys on their sturdy achievement with the comment that fewer than 100 hikers made this particular trek in the past year. And did I mention? The weather was perfect. Late September, early October is apparently a wonderful time to pursue such an adventure.
Guides in these parts are very protective of their territory and this guide was, in the hikers’ opinion, very knowledgeable and well prepared in the art of guiding. For anyone who might appreciate the rigors of such an experience, contact:
Shawn Miller, Escape Goats, PO Box 532, Escalante, UT., 84726
Peggy recently retired as a high school art teacher and now devotes her time to teaching at Kendall College of Art and Design and living creatively.
They both enjoy travel on or near water and time with their darling grand son Oliver.