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Old 02-19-2008   #31
Chip's Avatar
SE, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,098
River Goddesses

Here they are.

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Deb, my very own river goddess, on a Pack Cat, and Mel, all bundled up in drysuit, with her duckie, under some really ugly rocks.

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Here they are, Deb foreground, Martha on rock trying to point out the right way to her stuck (and severely overloaded) boat), then Mel. This was right below the wee falls shown in the next photo.

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This is the first portage, a five-foot drag over the boulder river right. But after all the mellow scenic shit, Mel and I had to run it. This is her about to flip. I tried it slower, and flipped at the entrance, in the corkscrew hydraulic. My cheap plastic Cabelas ammo cans leaked. (hint- unload before trying). Good place to stop and play, trying to run the little beast. Obviously not a bad swim.

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Here lies the super-mandatory portage, where the river is completely blocked, and squirts through foot-wide slots. For warning, there are usually things hanging on the willows: cracked helmets, panties, etc. Deb and I took out upstream left on a bar and did a longer (scratchy) portage. Mel tried to paddle right up to it, flipped in an overhang, and scared herself. Not a good place to fall out of your boat. You can see the tips of Martha's tubes poking out. I think she got out upstream and lined it around the boulder.

The interesting thing about this river, is that these rockfalls take place fairly often, so you might come around a bend andó whoa!


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Old 03-27-2008   #32
Vancouver, BC
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 14
I'm also looking at early May. Anyone have an idea about how far down the canyon the current extends now? Thinking about paddling to the Hole in the Rock and doing a shuttle from there.

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Old 03-27-2008   #33
Chip's Avatar
SE, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,098
the 4-step program

1. Check the SNOTEL data (the snow water equivalent graph) for WIDTSOE #3 via NRCS National Water and Climate Center | Home

2. Keep an eye on the USGS gage for Escalante. 40 cfs seems to be the crux for a good trip.

3. Check the Bu Rec site for the Lake Powell elevation (assuming it'll go up a bit before you launch).

4. Find that elevation on a good detail map.

Generally, there'll be a few miles of quicksand, mudflats, and shallows between there and the actual point that a powerboat can reach. The last morning we had a battle with an upstream wind and breaking waves, making 1 mile-per-hour tops, so don't judge the distance as if you'll be paddling with current.

Good luckó It's a beautiful tripó
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Old 03-27-2008   #34
Vancouver, BC
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 14
OK, from Explorer Canyon at just below 3600' it looks like a 14 mile paddle to Hole in the Rock.
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Old 03-27-2008   #35
Chip's Avatar
SE, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,098
Protein powder

If you've got upstream winds, and waves, the flatwater part could be a workout.

In 2005 I think we got boat-shuttled from Willow Canyon, a couple miles downstream from Explorer Canyon, which strikes me as odd. I wouldn't think the water would have risen since then, to reach Explorer Canyon.

Anyhow, the weird thing about paddling the drowned part of the Escalante is that you might have deep water under your boat, rollers, slickrock walls on both sides and not many places to land or camp for considerable distances. The sandstone that's been submerged and re-exposed is manky & rotten. Take care when scrambling.

I wish I could recall the stretch between Willow Canyon and Hole in the Rock, but I was pretty disoriented by the powerboat shuttle banga-wanga speed run.

General take: after seven or so days of paddling a river, to paddle the Sump, with its hideous bathtub rings and tumbleweed holocaust shorelines, is a serious down. I'd elect to be shuttled from as far up as the powerboat could reach.
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Old 04-04-2008   #36
Escalante, Utah
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 3
Don't count on the Escalante offering more than 1 to 3 weeks of runnable flows. Smowpack for Escalante basin is < 100% (in fact, ~85%). Runoff typically peaks early to mid May. Each year is different folks. It's a matter of keeping an eye on the flows, remaining flexible, and driving straight to the put-in when conditions are optimal.

Chip offers good advice above.

FYI, the Boulder Creek gaging station is offline this season. Boulder Creek (~6 miles downstream from put-in) typically doubles flow of the Escalante.

I run it twice in 2005: in May when Escalante gage read ~ 70 cfs and again in late June when Escalante gage read ~ 150 cfs! We will be lucky if the Escalante reaches comparable 2005 flows in the next decade or so.

Pray or dance perhaps.

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