Trip Report: Escalante Area Canyoneering

Escalante Area Canyoneering
By John* Veranth
CANYONEER 05/08/2015 MOD+

I fully respect the choices everyone made regarding the trip even if nearly everyone cancelled. The weather forecast was certainly discouraging, especially for those whose goal was to descend into long narrow slot canyons. As Rick correctly points out canyoneering is a fair weather sport, and the drive to Boulder is long.

So, what happened?

As I had expected based on years of local experience, the "60% chance of rain" forecast resulted in storms up on Boulder Mountain, but only scattered light rain in the desert. This is a very typical pattern for the area. The weather models are "correct" in that there is a possibility of rain, but do not quantify how much. The problem is that there is a lot of climate difference between the Boulder Mountain foothills and the lower elevation canyons, but weather models are for regional patterns, not local effects. Over the weekend the actual storms in Boulder lasted less than an hour, and were enough to wet the sand with no real runoff. Out by Harris Wash the precipitation was even less, and the sand was dry even in canyon bottoms.

Marcia Hansen showed up on Thursday, and then for Saturday and Sunday we merged the listed WMC trip with two WMC members, Steve Krueger, and Mary Ann, plus four of their friends for a fine weekend. On Friday Marcia and I explored a system of small but interesting slot canyons that had been on my list for a long time. We went through crotch-deep potholes and narrow squeezes, and did a lot of fun stemming and bridging, but were not at risk since the watershed was small and there were plenty of escape routes. Saturday was overcast with some storms in the distance. The expanded group did a morning hike, went to my place for lunch, and then did a longer afternoon hike, and never got rained on. Sunday was fine weather and we did my "hiker variation" of Drill Hole canyon, which can also be done with three rappels for those who insist on hanging from a rope.

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