Day 3: 11 miles; class II
Camp 3: mile 32.4; RL below Choprock Canyon
Hikes: SideCanyon 23.6 (B); South and North Choprock (A+)
It was difficult to find good information on the best places to explore from the Escalante River. There were no trip reports on the web, and most of the hiking guidebooks had descriptions of descents from the road. Only the Lambrechtse book described hiking down the river canyon, and even then, he didn't describe most of the side canyons (other than the major ones with easy hikes where he has separate descriptions). Also, none of us had done the river before. Of the few others we knew that had done the trip in the past, all did it at much lower levels and in IKs, at times when simply progressing downstream was the biggest ordeal of each day, having to hop out and drag or portage innumerable times. On those trips there is not as much time for hiking. Besides, most people don't like to hike as far, long, or in as technical places that we do. Thus we were left with limited information on the side hike possibilities. I had gleaned some info off the web on the more popular side canyons to canyoneer down, but it sounded like most of those described required rappel gear and wetsuits/drysuits for lengthy swims. Thus for the most part we were left to explore on our own and figure out which of the side canyons were excellent side excursions and which were duds. Some would say nothing in this region is a dud, and all is certainly beautiful. However, with limited time on a trip like this, I generally want to see most of the highlights. I didn't know when, if ever, I'd come back to float the river again. It probably would be 5-10 years before consistent high flows would be encountered again. To help figure out more interesting side canyons to explore, topo maps are quite useful. A couple weeks prior to this I bought the Topo series for Utah, specifically for this and the former trip Alex and I did down the Dolores through Cataract Canyon. From those topos I could see where side canyons were located, and which ones might have interesting features such as narrows.
Armed with some topo knowledge, I suggested that we explore one of the side canyons a few miles down from our camp on RL that looked medium-sized and perhaps quite interesting. We stopped here and started hiking up. It was a pleasant enough hike, but without any particularly stand-out features. We continued up over a mile and eventually were walled out at a dryfall of several hundred feet, in something of a huge punchbowl. Yes, a good hike, but certainly not one of the nicer ones on this trip. I decided to start giving a rating to the hikes we did. This was a "B" – pleasant and beautiful, but typical of the area and not necessarily awe-inspiring. We passed two other side canyons that might – or might not – be similar. However, I thought we should concentrate efforts in our next excursion that surely would be more interesting.
Choprock Canyon comes in 32 miles down from the put-in on RL and has a typical water inlet you can paddle into. At the time of our trip, this side canyon was filled with lore. Up it were some of the best slot canyons in the region. About a month and a half before our trip, two Brigham Young students in their twenties were canyoneering down South Choprock and perished in one of the deep dark pools that they needed to swim through and climb out of. These guys were quite experienced in canyoneering the region, but apparently made the fatal error of continuing down the canyon too late in the day and only having shorty wetsuits to stay warm. The speculation is that they got to the 10ft-deep, 100m-long pool in a 2 ft wide narrows late in the day, already cold and exhausted, and didn't manage to have the strength to climb out at the lower logjam, probably numbed from the 40-degree air and water. They eventually succumbed to hypothermia and drowned. It is a pity to loose compatriots that enjoy the outdoors as we do, and we mourn them. On our trip, I figured we would hike up the side canyon as far as possible, perhaps getting a glimpse of what sort of obstacles these two were encountering.
As we hiked up Choprock, the deerflies were particularly bothersome. These are flies about the size of a housefly, but with a grayish-yellowish color on part of their back or abdomen. They bite hard and almost always die from a swat when noticed, being dumb in that sense. The bite hurts initially and then itches like a mosquito bite. They usually landed on the backsides of our legs when walking. I noted that when we stopped, they generally wouldn't land on you. I surmised that they must use motion to locate and track their blood-filled targets. Thus we had no problems with them when we sat down to eat lunch. But as soon as we started hiking up the canyon again, they were swarming around us en force. I decided to run to prevent them from latching on. Preston had the clever idea of breaking off a cottonwood branch and using it like a tail to wag back and forth across the legs and prevent them from attacking. At one point it looked quite amusing seeing my four buddies all with their tails moving back and forth behind them. For more info on these flies see http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2115.html
Going up Choprock after about a half-mile we came to an overhanging camp area with something like a clothesline (possibly for drying out clothes?). Past here and about a mile from the mouth we reached a fork where North and South Choprock Canyons come together. We went up South Choprock first (to the right), and soon came to another beautiful chamber-type area with pool, ferns, and 60+ft dryfall that would require a rappel to descend. We noted a bolt up at the top. This ended our excursion up South Choprock, so we headed back and hoped for better luck getting up North Choprock. To our delight, we could easily hike up this one. This was one of the highlights of the trip, as for nearly two miles we hiked through gorgeous narrows, sometime overhanging and 20 ft wide, other times only 3 ft wide. There was virtually no scrambling or wading on this hike, and the flies were absent. About a half mile from where the narrows end, we came to another split, which I assumed was North Choprock (to the left) and Middle Choprock (to the right). Middle Choprock appeared to be the larger drainage, so we continued up it another half mile. Mike and Preston had already mentioned turning around before, and I agreed it was a good time to head back. I decided to relax and let them get ahead so I could run back (for me, running is often easier than walking since I commonly run 5 miles several days a week, but don't hike a ton). Tomster went up to explore North Choprock farther. We all met at the downstream area of the narrows or at the boats. This was an extremely rewarding, awe-inspiring side hike not requiring aid, and one of the best we did: A+. With aid, descending South Choprock would be A+ as well, but cold!!!
After such a long hike (total of about 10 miles), it was late and we were tired. The flies were a concern for us at the sandy camp areas near the mouth, so we continued downstream and Preston found a great spot half a km downstream on RL, free of bugs.
Day 4: 13 miles; class II
Camp 4: mile 45.3: RL Moody Canyon; 13 miles
Hikes: Neon, Ringtail, Baker
On the map the rangers gave out they denote the river and the major side canyons. There are only two places where other features are noted. One of these is Cathedral in the Desert, the oft-spoke-of Glen Canyon attraction much farther downstream recently revealed again by the receding lake waters, and the other is Golden Cathedral, another spot, just up Neon Canyon. We passed up Fence Canyon and floated down to Neon, only a couple miles downstream of our camp. I knew Neon was another of the great side canyons in the region containing slots and requiring rappels and perhaps swims. We proceeded up, and within a mile reached an awesome chamber with large pool, ferns, and sandstone on three sides. It was over 100 ft high and 200 ft wide. There were two large holes in the sandstone, one of which water tumbles down during flash floods. These create something like "skylights" in the chamber. A rope dangled from the first hole about halfway down to the pool. "Who would trust that rope?" Preston asked. We enjoyed the immensity and grandeur for over an hour, seeing it from all angles, skipping stones, conversing, and relaxing. I was sitting on the left edge of the pool watching the sunlight spot from the skylights slowly move over me toward the water. It appeared that in another half-hour or hour it would be directly on the water. I imagined an amazing light show in the chamber with the light reflecting off the rippled water. However, it was 11 am and we already lingered there over an hour, and the other guys wanted to move on, so we walked back. I purified some water in along the way. At the boats I told the guys to move on down to Ringtail while I ran back to up to witness the light show. Unfortunately, although noontime with the light coming down the skylight onto the water, the wind had kicked up and the light show wasn't as impressive as I had imagined, so I quickly returned to the boats and paddled downstream.
Ringtail Canyon was a little over a mile downstream. I told the guys this was another one I had read a little blurb about on the web and definitely should be explored. Although some of them were skeptical, I was glad to see that they did stop. This side-canyon started with a bang, as not far from the river the slot canyon began in almost a full-on cave. Entering, it was very dark and got narrower and narrower. I felt a much colder breeze of air coming from farther in, obviously from cold pools just ahead. I could make out the water in a pool below that seemed to require wading. Wet shoe prints confirmed that my friends had passed this way. Although I stemmed above it at first, I eventually had to plunge my legs in. The shock of the icy cold water was tough, but the ensuing numbness eventually made me feel more accustomed and comfortable. I came to a spot where a pfd and bag were left. Just past here the slot got much narrower, requiring me to proceed sideways (and I'm 5'11", 145 lbs) barely making it through. Looking up, it was a hundred feet high and only a couple feet wide. As I awkwardly squirmed my way farther in, I came to a pothole with pool of unknown depth. A narrow ray of sunlight made it down to this spot here at midday, giving a small spectacular light show on the sandstone wall. How far up could you go? I thought it would end in some difficult maneuver or dryfall, but didn't, and I still couldn't hear anyone, so knew the other guys had continued on quite a bit further. It was spooky. If water came rushing down this place, we'd all be goners. There was NOWHERE to go but down and I suppose underwater and drowned. It seemed impossible to get up higher. Did my friends take the plunge to get through this pool? I decided I had to persevere, and took the plunge. Fortunately, it was only mid-thigh deep, and my shorts got only a little wet. Farther on through more narrows and pools, awkwardly moving, the spooky slot seemed to go on forever. After another pothole or two I heard voices and soon was up with the rest of our group. They had reached a pothole with light coming in, and said it would be impossible to get out of that one alone. Just past it was another place that seemed to defy further progress, with an eerie cluster of 100+ huge spiders huddled together. Preston said the spiders were worth a look at. I hopped into the pothole and climbed up to the spiders. I was not disappointed – an amazingly creepy spot. It seemed someone had chiseled a couple steps into the sandstone to help get up past here, but I decided to turn around, not wanting to disturb our arachnid friends. I tried getting out of the pothole myself, (>5 ft high) and made a few attempts to jump up and put all my weight above my elbow to prop myself up. While everyone was quite skeptical I could pull it off, after about seven tries I eventually made it, demonstrating that indeed it was possible to get out of that spot alone. This mystical eerie spooky place was probably the coolest spot we were in on the trip: A++.
Awe-inspired and looking for more, though not expecting anything to top what we had recently experienced, I suggested we also check out Baker Canyon, the next one down. I had also read a blurb on this one as a great descent. We stopped and hiked up through verdant growth, and soon came to another chamber with dryfall, with obvious bolt and sling for rappel. "Would be nice to come down this one" Tom said as we lingered around the ferns at the base. Later we learned that you actually can experience the narrows above this spot (known as Redrock Cathedral) by hiking up and around from a point by the river just upstream of the mouth, then descending into Baker Narrows.
Full of delight, we continued downriver, passing up the hiking opportunities at 25-mile Wash and getting down to Moody Canyon, where there was a fine campsite a short drag up from the inlet. We all reveled in the day's explorations and bundled up for another cold night.
Day 5: 9 miles; class II-III with one III+/IV- (Scorpion Rapid)
Camp 5: mile 54.2: RL Georgie's Camp
Hikes/Features: Moody Canyon, Scorpion Gulch, Scorpion Rapid, Georgie's Camp
We started our next day with a hike up Moody. We found water in the wash a half-mile up and I left my filter and bottles there to purify water on the way down. The skies were cloudy and threatening to rain, and indeed it did sprinkle on us, but not so much that we got soaked. Moody Canyon was large with typical vertical red sandstone walls on either side. It was similar to the main Escalante Canyon, though narrower and without as much vegetation in the bottom. Hiking was easy. We went up perhaps 2 miles without seeing any outstanding features and judging from the Lambrechtse description and topo maps, it didn't appear there were any fun side canyons off it for several more miles, so we turned around. This canyon got a "B".
We packed up and launched. Floating downstream we continued to pass Russian olive trees along the river. These non-indigenous invasive trees lined the banks along much of the upper stretch, their pale green leaves imparting a lovely aspect to the canyon. Like the tamarisk, which also lines the banks in the upper parts, the trees were not there a century ago. Tom had mentioned several times earlier how he and his girlfriend had to remove one of these trees from their front yard, and also how it was non-endemic to the region. He was quite elated to share this knowledge with us. Since Tom was not known for his botanical knowledge, I kept a running joke going, asking Tom several times each day "Tomster – what IS that tree over there?", "Is it native?", "Do they yield edible olives?", "Did you ever have to pull one out?", and got the others to also ask him. He took it in good stride, repeating answers innumerable times. At some point as we progressed downstream that day, the alien tree became notably absent, especially in places where the canyon became more visible and open. However, we did still occasionally observe dead Russian olives near the banks, often with a ring cored around the trunk to suffocate the tree from lack of food and water flow up the xylem and phloem. This was obviously the work of an eradication program. In other places smaller ones were pulled directly out, along with tamarisks. While I agree we all want to see the native flora and fauna, I think it's more of an eyesore to see dead trees along the banks. They should be removed, or at least allowed to be burned by people like us.
Our next stop was Scorpion Gulch, 7 miles downstream on RR. With a name like that, who could resist a hike up. It was a route described in the Lambrechtse guide, so we knew it would be easy. The lower route was tough in a different way, though, as we had to bushwack through brush some of the way, and take circuitous paths around the trail as poison ivy had overgrown in places. This vile weed was found along many of the side canyon bottoms with more verdant growth, particularly in Baker, Neon, and South Choprock Canyons. Here in Scorpion Gulch it was even denser. Although none of us suffered that irresistible itch, it was still something to point out, especially to those in the group not so adept at its identification ("leaves of three, let them be"). We hiked up about a mile and a half, enjoying the slickrock wash and pretty canyon scenery (rating: A-).
Below Scorpion Gulch the gradient picks up a little and there are more riffles in the river. About a mile below the Gulch is the biggest drop on the entire river, known as "Scorpion Rapid". This drop, like any, is easily recognized from above. There are nice places to stop on RR before it, and even if proceeding to the lip of the falls, you can still stop in an eddy there. A brief scout revealed routes on both left and right, the right having a more photogenic 4 ft falls. It looked as though you could just paddle hard and make it over the 4 ft drop. We had probed beneath and couldn't feel bottom, so were confident there would be no pitoning. Most of the current was going next to the boulder in the middle of the river, though, which was a little sketchier, since it seemed to push you center. When I tried going over the right I was stopped cold halfway over the lip by the gradually rising rock. I hadn't realized it was less than one inch deep where I had tried to boof over. The others laughed at me as I descried the drop from this different perspective. I backed up, turned around, peeled-out and went over closer to the center where the current made a deep channel, and had a clean run. Preston tried the same line, but ended up too far center and was twisted to the side, scraping, as he plunged over. Alex mentioned this to Mike, who ended up taking something more like my first line, but actually making it over - with about zero speed. He nosed in, fully submersing in the silty water. Seeing all these problems, Tom and Alex knew exactly where to go and had pretty good runs. This class III-IV rapid was a pretty fun whitewater feature of the trip.
We continued less than a mile downstream to an excellent elevated sandy area known as "Georgie's Camp". Georgie White Clark along with Harry Aleson were the first to descend the Escalante in 1948 (when flows at the gauge were about 30 cfs!), taking seven days to reach the Colorado and another two to get to Lees Ferry. Although it would be fitting, this camp was not named for her, but rather for a stockman in the area, Georgie Davis. The camp is pleasant, with a clear running stream flowing by, no bugs, and nice views of the canyon. We hiked up the canyon, only to find the going difficult due to brush and boulder-hopping. There is a nice loop hike four of us did though, cutting to the right in another drainage-type area after about half a mile, and making our way back to the camp. As we cut right, we tried to get through an oak forest that reminded Mike of being back on the east coast, but eventually had to take a trail around and above it to the right. The interesting topography of this loop is likely due to a "rincon", or abandoned meander of the river. Long ago, the river channel actually went up and around the loop that we hiked. At some point the saddle separating the looping water was eroded away enough that flood flows could break through and eventually the riverbed took the shorter course. As the river continued to carve downward in the bedrock, the rincon elevated higher and higher above the current streambed level. One can estimate how long ago the breach occurred by how high the rincon bottom is. Such rincons are numerous in this region of Utah, with nearly a dozen along the Escalante itself, and many more times that along the Colorado, Green, San Juan, and other rivers in the area. Although the hike ended up being much shorter than we expected, we decided to camp here anyway since it was such a nice spot and we had already dragged our boats all the way up to the camp area. We bathed with the clear water down by the river, feeling refreshed for the evening's conversation. Hike rating: B+.
Day 6: 17 miles; class II-III with one tougher class III-IV passage
Camp 6: mile 71.2: RL below Steven's Canyon
Hikes/Features: Saddle, Rapid/Portage, Fool's Canyon, Steven's Canyon
I thought that some of the small to medium side canyons on RL might be interesting to explore, so about 5 miles down from our camp we stopped at the most interesting-looking one, Shofar. I hopped out and took a peek up it, seeing that it was similar to Georgie's in that it would involve a lot of boulder scrambling to get up to the spot that might have some narrows. It didn't look worth the time and effort, so we pressed on.
We didn't know exactly where it was located, but everyone told us that there was a mandatory portage somewhere down past Scorpion Rapid. The rumor was that someone had put tape along the river just upstream of the rapid, and one group we heard from immediately took out upon seeing the tape, only having to portage about 10X farther than necessary. Experienced kayakers such as us weren't looking for anything announcing a rapid – we could easily spot the last possible stopping point before a horizon and take out there. As we came down around a right bend, about a mile past Shofar, I noticed a fun-looking red saddle that the river was obviously meandering around, so went up to have a look. The others soon followed. It was a nice short hike with expansive views, and allowed us to glimpse (on the other side) the rapid that most people portaged. We saw a group down there doing the portage shuffle on RL. Up on the saddle, Alex looked back down to the boats and saw that Tom's was going downstream all alone! Quickly, I ran down to my boat in hot pursuit, intercepting the renegade kayak in the bend and bringing it over to the side, where I emptied the water and the towed it down. Nice way to do the saddle hike, Tomster! I must say, though, thanks to Pesto for pulling my boat up higher, since I'd have been in the same predicament.
At the rapid we all got out to scout. There were two tricky spots, the first a narrow slot about 2 ft wide that a hardshell kayak could pass through, with a 2 ft drop and some squirrely water below pushing a little into an undercut. It didn't look too bad. The next spot was a boulder jumble with the middle and right passages sieves or close to being sieves. The left channel appeared doable after I removed a 3 inch diameter log that was blocking the way. However, it was complicated since it required a tight turn to the right –too tight for most of our boats. There was an eddy one could move forward into, and then go backward down the main drop, or better, it seemed you could back into the eddy, and then go forward down the main drop and punch a small hole. The point we took out to scout was at the upper drop, and it was just as easy to plop back into the water below it as it was above, so we all portaged this upper slot, though it was no more difficult than the lower. We all ran the lower part back-first, then forward around the corner, Preston leading the way. He and the others all were pushed hard into the boulder on the right as they came around the corner, while I leveraged myself away and had a cleaner line (i.e. hearing no scraping paddle, and not tilting my boat).
Another mile downstream and we were at the mouth of Fool's Canyon on RR where we stopped for lunch. Two other groups had pulled in here, all in IKs. One was a pair of older fellows from Las Vegas and St. George, and the other was a group of five from Salt Lake City, several of whom Tom knew (Bruce ?? and Bill ?? in particular). Bill was a veteran of this river and an Everett Reuss of sorts, in love with this region. He had floated down the river eight time in the past, and had canyoneered all of the slot side canyons. Being starved of knowledge of this fascinating area, I was intrigued hearing Bill's descriptions of the area and such stories as how he had been caught in a flash flood at the rappel above Golden Cathedral in Neon Canyon. His opinion was that Baker was the premier slot canyon to go down, and one of the finest side hikes you could do from the river was to get up on the slickrock mesa to the east in the region between Baker and Icabod just downstream. On this trip they had climbed to the mesa upstream of Shofar. They were planning on camping at or up Coyote Gulch and hiking out the next day.
We asked them what this side canyon (Fool's) was like. Bruce replied that it was great, with a deep pool at one point you couldn't see or feel the bottom of. Thus we hiked up a couple miles, finding a pretty canyon, in some ways similar to Scorpion Gulch, but easy to get around the vegetation in most parts. Just above the deep pool was a skate-park like spot where the bedrock was carved smoothly sloping gradually up on both sides. Up farther, Alex perched on a mushroom rock precariously balanced on some less-resistant strata. All in all, another fine side hike.
A mile or two down near Icabod Canyon I viewed, high up on the left, a sitting Buddah!! It was too late for the others to see it when I mentioned it to them, but did manage to snap a photo of him. He looks like this from several perspectives. Four miles down from Fool's we stopped to hike up another cool saddle where we could climb to the base of a large phallic spire. Another few miles and we saw Steven's Arch, a magnificent hole in the sandstone wall probably 100 ft high and wide. Steven's Canyon has a long inlet and one of the nicest camps along the river. The camp was occupied by Todd and Dave, a couple guys from Colorado whom we had bumped into several times previously. We chatted with them a while, then Alex and I hiked up the side canyon, finding immense undercut caverns, belittling us as we made our way up. Since the others weren't coming, we cut the hike short at only about a mile up. However, we still enjoyed the grandeur of Stevens. The guys had found one of the nicest camps of our entire trip just downstream on RL, up the bank through some trees, at another huge beach with overhang protection. A highwater ring was apparent on the wall about 15 ft up, perhaps from the high water of Lake Powell. When full, I read that the reservoir extends all the way up to Coyote Gulch, which was only a couple miles downstream, thus it wasn't unreasonable to assume this was a bathtub ring from 1983-84 when the reservoir was at capacity (3708 ft elevation).
Day 7: 11 miles; class II with one tougher class III narrow awkward passage
Camp 7: mile 82.1: Island across from Explorer Canyon Inlet
Hikes/Features: Coyote Gulch, Silty Rapid, Explorer Canyon
We had toyed with the idea of doing a layover day at Coyote Gulch, since we had so much time on the trip, and this side canyon was apparently the most popular hike in the region and as long as you wished. I was originally keen on this plan, particularly since I thought we might be able to make it all the way up to see Spooky, Brimstone, and Peekaboo Gulches, some of the most spectacular narrows in the region, akin to Ringtail. However I didn't know exactly how far up they were from the river, and the two guidebooks I brought didn't give precise details, but it did seem they would be a pretty far way to go. I later realized that it would indeed have been a long day, since they were located about 20 miles up. As it was, we still did a long hike up Coyote Gulch, passing Cliff Arch and settling for lunch after getting tired of the walking. It thought the next "natural feature" would be pretty close, Coyote Natural Bridge. A couple backpacking groups passed us going down and I inquired of them how much farther up the other arches were. They both said, more or less, "well, there's one right here and another a couple miles back". None of us realized what they meant by the one "right here" since as we looked upstream, we didn't see anything that spectacular, but perhaps there was a small one off to the side. After lunch we decided to walk up a bit further, and literally just two steps farther Coyote Natural Bridge was in full view! Duh! Now it was clear to all of us! They hadn't elaborated or implied at all how spectacular it was, a huge chunk of sandstone overhanging the wash about 40 ft, and one of the most photogenic spots in the entire Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument. This, like most natural bridges, also was a "rincon" where a meander in the wash had been abandoned when the water had broken through the sandstone below some harder layers that remained intact. At this point we hiked back, taking a shortcut just before Cliff Arch by hiking up and over a saddle. Tomster made his way almost to the base of the cliff, to the chagrin of Preston, who was more conservative.
After our long hike, the clouds built, the temperature plummeted, wind gusts kicked up, and it started raining. The weather made the going miserable in some ways, but intriguing in others, as we saw dust clouds spiral into the air when silt banks toppled into the river. These erosion events can be quite dramatic, and a group descending a couple weeks earlier apparently had a large one occur across the river from their camp, creating a tsunami that swept their IKs downstream. They went in pursuit the next morning, catching up with them a few miles downriver! A few miles below Coyote Gulch is an undercut wall on RR which is mentioned in the ranger's guide, but was nothing more than a simple move to one side of the river. Soon after this, however, was a spot blocked by a boulder and logs. Preston arrived here first and got out to scout in the howling cold. He thought it should be portaged, but that I'd probably run it. It turned out not to be all that bad, with a left-right move by a log to get through. A bit dicey, but none of us had problems. In an IK, it would be much more of an issue.
The current continued all the way down to Cow/Fence Canyons on our trip before stalling out. Logs and some debris clogged the rising lake and we paddled on the warmer clearing water a few more miles down to Explorer Canyon, and unassuming slit on the left that hid a large canyon with a small stream in it. This one sounded like one of the better shorter canyons to explore down in the lake area. We made our way up, cold all the while, finding a trail on the left and scrambling a few times. Oaks, grass, and some shrubs predominated, and made going difficult except on trails. We found a panel of pictographs on the north wall with figures in strange postures that Tomster and Pesto imitated for the camera. Pressing on, we were looking for Zane Grey Arch, supposedly about a mile and a half up from our starting point, but were befuddled by not spotting it anywhere nearby. Suddenly, Alex and Tom found the correct perspective and said, "there's something like an arch up here" and we all made our way over to see it. It didn't disappoint us, being another huge structure with a dicey top that Tom carefully climbed across. Up and behind it was a Fremont granary that seemed to be more modern than many of the Anasazi ones in other parts. We also tried to find some springs supposedly in the canyon, to no avail, so I purified the clear water in the stream near the mouth. We paddled back out on the lake and over to an island to camp. We made a large fire with the abundant driftwood around, and had a pleasant evening, sheltering ourselves from the occasional shower.
Day 8: ~6 miles; flat lakewater paddling
Trip end: boat shuttle out from Willow Creek Inlet
Hikes: Bishop Canyon
Enjoying some sunshine in the morning, we packed up for our last day of exploring and paddled down to Bishop Canyon, the first side canyon north off of the large Willow Creek arm of the reservoir. According to the Kelsey guide, this one had an overhanging chamber, the "largest of its kind the author has ever seen". While some made fun of "the author" for his third person writing style, the guide was pretty useful. We made our way up Bishop, seeing thousands of tadpoles and dozens of crawdads in the pellucid stream flowing. Bedrock was sculpted delightfully making an ideal walking path, although most of the way wading through the water was the easiest way to progress. Tom realized the same thing as "the author" did when he slipped and fell numerous times walking on the slippery bedrock. One particularly fun spot was where we had to stem up a narrows section above a pool of water. Past here a ways, and a couple miles up we reached the end. The overhanging area was underwhelming, since we were expecting something more like Cathedral in the Desert. It was still a nice place to get to and hang out briefly. We didn't linger long since we wanted to make our way back to meet our boat shuttle that was due to arrive at 1 pm. We made it there on time, but our shuttle driver ended up being almost two hours late. We ate what little food we had remaining and swam in the warm lake water to clean off a bit. On the boat ride out, our driver (Leonard Iverson) took us a couple miles up the Clear Creek arm of the Escalante to see Cathedral in the Desert. What an amazing place to behold! Although not as nice as it would have been without the motors and the lake, it was still an amazing spot. Within a couple hours we were out at Bullfrog Marina, loading up our vehicles for the drives home. Thus we finished another of the most amazing trips in the Southwest, getting a taste of what Glen Canyon was like before it's drowning.