I ran the escalante last year in an IK. It was a super fast trip by most standards but it was fun and all the work I could get off.
5/12/10 Day zero:Left Idaho in the evening after work. Drove all night and picked up a permit in the morning at the field office around 9am.
Day 1: Drove to the bridge, rigged and launched around 11am. paddled most of the day. The flow was just enough to make it possible. Had to get out and pull the boats over shallows about every 30 minutes. camped when the shadows got long, we were super tired. could have pushed a few more hours because dusk lasts forever.
I thought there were plenty of good campsites, but I was on a 2 man 2 boat trip. Maybe we were lucky and always pulled out in a good spot.
Day 2: we got up early and paddled all day to get to fence canyon. On the water for 10 hours, maybe 2 hours of decent light left when we had camp setup. we camped a bit below fence and got there in time to do a bit of hiking in the area and rest, still a bit tired from the drive I think.
Day 3: we got up early and got out the technical gear and did the neon cayon canyoneering thing. It took several hours but was well worth it. Spent 8 hours on the river, 4 hiking.
Day 4: up early to cover 30 miles. Got to jacob hamblin arch at sunset. Paddled for 12 full hours. pulled boats up coyote gulch in fading light/dark. We were knackered and the pull was pretty challenging becuase there was very little flow in coyote.
Day 5: up early, stowed gear and headed to the top of crack in the wall. I took my boat (tomcat solo), paddle and misc gear. The load was maybe 65-70lbs. I left assorted bulky gear for the second trip. the walk is not very easy. the first trip was OK in relative cool but by the second haul it was blazing hot and fairly miserable. My partner was using a bill's bag and I had to loan him my backpack for his second trip to get his boat out. We were headed back to Idaho by about 1pm.
My gear: tomcat solo, nrs paddle, nrs drysuit, PFD, helmet, pogies, base layer, 2 fleece layers, tarp, sleeping bag, canyoneering gear (real rope, harness, biners, webbing, belay device, anchor material, pothole escape kit) backpacking food, stoke and cook kit, 4 nalgene bottles, filter, pills, first aid, small OR drybags, full backpacking pack and assorted personal items.
I decided to forgo a tent, sleeping pad and any amenities to try to make the climb out in 1 trip. Had we not gone canyoneering it would have worked but the wet rope and gear made it just a bit too much for one trip. I'm not a big dude and the pack would have pushed 85lbs.
Escalante river | Facebook
here are a few pics on facebook, not many good river pics I will have to add more some day.
Overall it is an awesome trip, not much (any) whitewater, just good floating with some rock dodging. I wish I had more time to do more canyoneering and a bit more exploring- but don't believe anyone who says you can't do it in less than 10 days. We could have possibly pushed harder on day 1 and 2 and skipped the canyons to do the river in 3 days. Most of the groups we passed were spending 7-12 days on the water and I was envious, but at least I got to go. One guy in a canoe looked pretty miserable and was spending something like 21 days including 5 days to hike gear out!
Another pair hiked in fence canyon with packrafts and was headed out crack in the wall after 4 dyas on the water. this seems like a sweet option if you have a packraft.
Duckies/packrafts are definitely the tool for the job. I wish I had a 15lb bandit.
Plastic kayaks would be a beast to get in and out of all day in the shallows. a raft would be ridiculous at all but epic flows.
We both wore drypants every day because there is so much wading.
Hey, I only missed 3 days of work though not a bad trip.
If anyone has questions or wants pics feel free to email.