Escalante River and Side Canyons

March, 2001

Part 4: Shofar and Hydra

Day 6, 3/27/01

Head Shofar, drop into Hydra.

From our small side canyon we walk along some more "deceptively narrow" Kayenta ledges then cross over in to Shofar Canyon.





Shofar is a beautiful canyon and I regret not having more time to explore it. There are two main canyons. We have to head up each far enough to be find a crossing. The first one is easy. Finding a route in to the south fork is harder. The easy walking is on the bench up high, but that is too far away to see routes into the canyon. But the terrain near the rim is a morass of holes, ridges, and steep walls making progress very difficult.

Looking down the inner slot of Shofar.

Walking slickrock benches in the middle of Shofar, looking for a route into the south fork.

Pumping water in the south fork.

After pumping water we walk the south bench back down to the Escalante and look for a route into Hydra. It way forward is not at all obvious. We have to climb up onto the Navajo somehow and nothing is looking easy. We end up going into a small side canyon, up several Kayenta benches, backtracking, then belaying up a short slab. This brings us to the top of the Kayenta. We follow that for a short ways to an easy ramp up onto the Navajo. We are soon in a maze of dome tops. We pick our way through this well and come at the head of a short steep gully which takes us back down through the Navajo into Hydra.

Short slabs.

Last ramp up to the Navajo. The small side canyon below us

Crossing the Navajo domes.

Once down in Hydra we are presented with the most difficult route finding of the trip. Our guide book says to find a north trending side canyon and "follow it's east rim until you find a 4th class route into Hydra." Our exit is on rubble just across from where we drop into Hydra. Well, the north trending side canyon is obvious. We are staying on the west side looking at the east rim and no 4th class route is obvious. There are several possibilities in sight, but nothing looks strictly 4th class or obvious. Maybe it will be more obvious as we walk along the rim...

We turn to head the canyon and find that we have to go all the way to the head, with several short side side canyons to head. We were hoping to get across Hydra today with these new difficulties it is looking unlikely.

Still, it is very beautiful terrain and the real shame is that we don't have whole days to explore each canyon. We head the side canyon and make a camp in a beautiful little side side canyon with some small water potholes.

Day 7, 3/28/01

We cross Hydra Canyon and almost make it to Ichabod.

In the morning Marie and I get up early to scout a route. "Follow it's east rum until you find a 4th class route into Hydra." So we walk the east rim. There's a ramp going part way into the side canyon, but getting from there into Hydra is uncertain. We walk to the rim of Hydra's inner gorge. There are some possible routes but nothing that we could walk down. We split. I go back to scout the ramp and Marie heads up canyon. The ramp, exposed in a few places, is walkable. It brings me to a long bench which I follow down toward Hydra. There I walk down 100 ft of steep slabs, traverse a thin ledge and I'm in Hydra. Class 4+.

I hear Marie calling from above. She's found a small slot and thinks it may go. From below it looks pretty steep. She drops into the top, comes down a little ways, then finds another tricky spot. We decide to go with my ramp route. Only now she can't climb back out! I retrace my route in and find the top of Marie's slot. It is just a move or two that's thwarting her. She throws up her Puff Ball jacket and I lower down the arm for a handline.

Back in camp Steve and Gina have pancakes ready to go.

Both the ramp and the slabs are steep enough that we belay them with packs. The slabs are so long that the belayer has to sit part way down, wedged in a small alcove.

View down the slabs.

The whole route.

We find ourselves in the bottom of another beautiful canyon. I'd like to explore up the inner gorge a ways, but the morning has taken longer than expected and we still have to get out.

The first part required climbing a steep but easy corner.

Then we walked up these "rubble" blocks to the bench.

Again, we walk down the Wingate bench to the Escalante escarpment and look for a route into the next canyon.

Another amazing balanced rock.

Scouting for a way around the cliffs.

We went into this crack and out the top. There were loose rocks at the top so I threw down a sling and I'm acting as the ancor.

This lead us back to the high country.

From the high country we dropped back down into a small 3 headed canyon. The canyon didn't look big on the map and we were hoping that we would cross it quickly. Unfortunately, it turned out that we had to walk to the head of each fork in order to cross it's inner gorge. With constant obstacles like this there is no chance that we are going to catch back up to our original schedule.

Half way through we gathered together and I proposed that we could either press really hard and might still have time to hike upper Coyote gulch. OR, we could cut that out by going down Jacob Hamblin arch, making the last days of the trip more relaxed and enjoyable. We all agree that this is a good idea. Except Marie, who's reluctant to give up on upper Coyote Gulch and also does not want to repeat The Arch.

We finally finish heading all the arms of this hydra and cross into Ichabod. Ichabod is built on the same plan as the last two canyons: Navajo domes in the distance. Kayenta benches fringing. Large Wingate benches around a Wingate walled inner gorge. Sublime. But also another obstacle. We have to get ourselves down the Kayenta then find a 5.8 route (we'll rappel) into the inner gorge. While we are contemplating this I notice how nice the camp sites are right around where we are standing and how spectacular the view is from up here. At this point even Marie aqueses and we decide to camp right where we are.

Looking for the best spot.

Cooking dinner.

We had a beautiful, extended sunset.


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Page last modified:  Aug 20 03:23 2008  by  Tom Unger