An airplane is great for getting somewhere where it is hard to drive to. Shelter Cove California is one example, and Escalante, Utah is another. Escalante is a fantastic place with many majestic and uncrowded canyons to explore, yet it is a five hour drive from the closest big cities of Las Vegas and Salt Lake City so it doesn’t get a lot of visitors. With the airplane it is about a three hour flight, although the return flight was a bit longer – more on that later.
We went on Memorial day, and although we ran into some other parties, it was generally a wonderful hiking experience in a beautiful, deep canyon with lots of solitude. If you are used to alpine backpacking in California or Colorado, you really need to visit Utah for a muti-day canyon trip. Hiking through the canyon and under the massive alcoves is awe inspiring.
Much of the hiking is in the stream bed, and our dogs, Bodie and Ande, loved it. (You should bring dog booties for dry hot, sandy sections – although we didn’t need them this time). We hiked down Harris Wash, made a base camp, then took a long day hike the rest of the way down Harris Wash, up the Escalante River a ways, then up Silver Creek Falls canyon to visit some Mormon wall carvings. Actually, the guidebook said to go up to see the carvings, but the real treat was the canyon – it was massively walled with purple and red water streaks.
After two nights we hiked out and stayed at a B&B in Escalante. We also paid them to run our shuttles to and from the trailhead. We had hoped they would take pity on us and drive us to the airport in the morning, but it was too early for them, so we used our folding bikes to ride down Utah highway 12 at 4:00 am to get to our plane. We left so early because my wife Betsy, a veterinarian, had appointments in California at 9:00 am. Unfortunately there was weather to dodge and we ended up going WAY south below Mt. Whitney, down into the San Joaquin valley and then up valley under the clouds. Betsy missed her first few appointments, which she never does so that was a frustrating end to a great trip.