Looking Forward to Summer and the Escalante,Green and Kokopelli Trail

14 December 2008

It is December already, nearing the new year.  And as the new year comes  closer, so do my plans for the fairer months and the summer of 2009.  I have put off writing about  them for a while now, trying not to think too much about summer during the snow and cold and darkness of winter, which only adds to the agony of the wait.  But finally, after discussions last week about summer plans, it feels like time to post the ideas for the next season.

A short list of summer trips includes: a family float on the lower Green River, from Green River town to Mineral Bottom, with camping and backpacking before and after; a long walk through the Escalante- starting with a hitchhike from town to the bridge on Highway 12, downriver to Coyote Gulch, up Coyote Gulch as far as  possible, then off through the bush back to the town; some short backpack trips with Nicolai, along with hiking and offroad exploration for 2 or 3 weeks; a week-long guiding job in the Moab area ending the day before entering my first 50 mile race; and a possible ride of the Kokopelli Trail, solo and unsupported.

The Escalante trip is the most exciting and will require the most planning.  I will give myself about 14 days for the trip, maybe 16, and will cover about 125 miles, not including getting from town to the bridge over the river on Highway 12.  There is a chance for meeting someone on Hole in the Rock road on the way out, and getting a ride, thus cutting a few more miles off the trek.  The fun part will be the walk down the river canyon.  I have contemplated floating the Escalante for quite a few years now.  But the window of opportunity is not very large for that float, and I typically don’t have the flexibility of schedule that early in the season.  After visiting the area last summer for a few days and hiking in and along the river for a day, I decided on the compromise of a backpack trip down the river.  My blog post from August 2008 tells a little about that trip.

Logistically the trek will be straightforward- I will start out in town, leave my truck at the ranger station (not confirmed yet), hitchhike to the bridge, and start walking back to the truck.  I’ll have two weeks worth of food with me, on my back, and so will have to spend time refining the meals and gear in order to keep the weight down.  Of course water won’t be an issue until I get up Coyote Gulch at least ten miles or so; this will keep water weight off my back for much of the walk.  The big question will be how much walking will be in the river and how much along it- and based on this answer, what will be on my feet?  Most likely I’ll be wearing Chaco’s for the entirety of the river and Coyote Gulch, but then carrying other shoes for the trek back to town, unfortunately undesirable extra weight.

An unsupported ride of the Kokopelli Trail will likely require caching water at a couple of points along the way.  The trailer full of food and gear will need to be walked through some of the technical sections. The only logistical question is transport to the trailhead, which can easily be arranged in Moab.

The family float on the Green River is an easy one- see the Desert Explorer website for more on the Green River. The only issue will be getting back to Green River town after leaving the truck at Mineral Bottom.  We will likely take about 7 days for this float, maybe longer, with plenty of downtime and hiking  along the way.

I will update the information about these trips as summer draws nearer, and as my planning progresses.  For more information on previous desert exploration and related topics visit the Desert Explorer website.