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Shofar, Hydra, Ichabod, Beryl Canyons

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by mildandgreen, Jan 24, 2021.

  1. mildandgreen

    mildandgreen

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    I've been always curious about Shofar, Hydra, Ichabod, Beryl Canyons, but I can't find a lot of information about them. For me I'm interested in traveling along the Escalante river and exploring up these canyons as far as I can go (or as far as is interesting) without technical climbing.

    So my question is, are these canyons actually worth exploring - or are these canyons just not as interesting compared to the other options in Escalante? Does anyone have experiences they can share?

    Thanks!
    stefan likes this.
  2. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    There are a lot of very good, hard, technical, dangerous, beautiful canyons along the Escalante between Highway 12 and the Colorado. I have done a fair number of them. However, I've never heard of the four you mention. I'm sure you've seen this:

    https://www.tumtum.com/climbing/trips/Escalante01_part4.shtml

    and this:

    http://stanwagon.com/wagon/utah/htmllinks/utah_45.html

    They don't sound particularly technical to me, more like something backpackers do. So I would guess you can go up and down any of them. It sounds like they were interesting to these backpackers, but they don't sound particularly interesting to me, especially since I know about the "other options in Escalante", which are very, very good (but technical, of course.)
  3. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    Overall they are nice wilderness canyons, but some aren't as spectacular as some of the other canyons in the Escalante. There are some shorter canyons in the area that are technical and look really interesting though.

    You didn't mention Fold Canyon, but it is north of Shofar and probably the most interesting of the major non-technical canyons in the area, especially the upper half and upper forks.

    The two canyons between Fold and Georges Camp look really interesting and are definitely technical. We had a good look at them last May, but weren't equipped for technical canyons and didn't have time to do them. In the northern one, some of our group went up to the spring and blocking fall from the bottom. We got a look at the lower parts of both canyons from the opposite rim. They look really promising. I could dig up some photos if you want.

    Shofar doesn't seem to be very interesting and is hard to get into from the bottom end. Of course there is the arch in the upper end, but the rest of the canyon is below average, at least by Escalante standards.

    Hydra might be more interesting than Shofar, but doesn't seem that interesting by Escalante standards.

    Ichabod has some short narrows. I don't how hard it is to get all the way through. The upper end might be technical.

    Beryl is technical, but there might be a route around the technical section. There are some big potholes in there and narrows, but I haven't been through. It is probably the most interesting of the canyons you mention.

    Stevens is interesting in the lower end, but I wasn't impressed with it after you are above the Grotto section. The section below and just above the Grotto section is nice, but above that it opens up into a wide dry canyon. Others disagree and were more impressed than I was, or so I've heard.

    Keep in mind that in the above critique I'm using Escalante standards. It doesn't mean the canyons mentioned as below average aren't pretty in their own way, but that there are better ones in the area.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2021
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  4. mildandgreen

    mildandgreen

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    Thanks Scott! That's definitely helpful!! I'll certainly welcome anyone else's experience as well!
  5. JTMiller

    JTMiller

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    Steve Allen's Canyoneering 3 Loop Hike in Utah's Escalante has some information on these canyons that might be helpful.
  6. mildandgreen

    mildandgreen

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    Thanks - i have this book but I don't see much in there about these canyons except that they are there - and he loops all the way around them on the Stevens-Fold loop
  7. Ram

    Ram

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    From Harvey Halpern, King of the Canyoneers, who was with Mr. Allen, exploring these canyons...And I quote....."Just that it’s unbearably beautiful and has the opportunity for solitude. Nothing besides beauty and solitude. What else do you need?."
    Oh I will add that Beryl was named for Harvey's dad (his Hebrew name).
    Ram
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  8. mildandgreen

    mildandgreen

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    Ah thanks - I could never find it - but now I see it in the Overland route section
  9. stefan

    stefan wandering utahn

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    mildandgreen, i know you're looking for other information but i'll add on to ram's post some information from the canyon name database for more on the names of canyons in this region (if interested) with a map below it for reference


    database. map.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
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  10. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    To me the thing that makes some of these "low-tier canyons by Escalante standards" is that they have no water and in some there are no slots/narrows or just very short ones. In my opinion, it's the water, lushness, slots, and narrows that make the Escalante area so scenic and special.

    Hydra and Shofar are mostly wide and dry canyons similar to a lot of other average canyons on the Colorado Plateau. It would make a good place to explore in winter if you come in from the east.

    Of the major canyons in the Escalante system Shofar, Hydra, Moody, and Middle Moody are the least interesting. Next would probably be Horse Canyon. They still aren't ugly; just not as good as some of the other ones in the region.

    None of these canyons mentioned in the previous paragraph compare (or even come close to comparing) to canyons such as Calf Creek, Death Hollow, Boulder Creek, Coyote Gulch, Fortymile, Willow, Neon, Choprock, Little Death Hollow, Llewellyn, Davis, etc.

    You will find solitude though. The first two times I was in the area were on Easter weekends and we saw no one (other than at Coyote Gulch which was part of our route on the first trip). The third time I was in the area was last Memorial Day Weekend when Hole in the Rock Road and the area around Escalante itself was more crowded than I ever have seen it. We explored different canyons in the area (since I had already been to the other ones in the area), but we didn't see anyone except for one lost couple near the Early Weed trailhead.

    If you do want to visit though, of the canyons in the original post, Beryl is your best bet followed by Ichabod. I would mind taking a closer look at these ones, especially Beryl.

    If you want something technical, I still think the ones between Georges Camp and Fold Canyons would be far more interesting. They appear to have long wingate slots and huge alcoves. They would also offer solitude, almost surely even more so than the canyons mentioned in the original post since they are visited even less often.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
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  11. 3d3vart

    3d3vart

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    Those canyons are known as Prima and Donna canyon according to Bill Wolverton.
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  12. winchestertonfield

    winchestertonfield

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    I've wanted to know the name of those two canyon's (Prima/ Donna) for years. Great info, thanks. I will be visiting them (revisiting them with a rope this time) this Spring. Since I'm here... does Scott or any others have any info on the canyons south of Stevens on the eastside of the Escalante? Specifically the upper sections of Rose, Fence, Steven's 1st side canyon and the little guy near the confluence with Coyote Gulch, Explorer's neighbor...? I'm not sure what is kosher, as far as sharing beta. There appear to be some promising adventures up in that neighborhood. I plane on doing the better part of a week up there on the mesa in about a month. I currently have no info on those canyons and any trip reports would be greatly appreciated (or maybe it will just spoil the surprise). Thanks in advance- Josh G
  13. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    Cow Canyon has a moki step route in the East Fork (which I haven't done), but most will want a rope. You could get into Fence from Cow. There isn't much of a canyon above the headwalls, so it's better to just visit from the bottom. Steve Allen once told me there's a 400 foot high set of Moki steps somwhere in Cow that would be worth seeing. I don't know where it is.

    In the past, it would be a lot easier to visit by boat, but Kelsey says the channel above Exporer isn't really boatable anymore.

    Explorer is considered interesting, but it's really only practical to visit by boat and there doesn't seem to be anything above the headwall. The sat photos look like there are some shallow slots in the canyon north of there.

    That whole are is problematic to access since the lake levels have dropped. It's hard to access by boat since the lake only extends to Exporer Canyon and it's hard to access by land because the Esclante is basically a channel of deep mud for miles and miles above that. Other than perhaps the access in the East Fork of Cow it doesn't seem to be practical to visit those canyons overland from the top either since they have big headwalls and the canyons are below the headwalls.

    If you wanted to look into those canyons from the top or maybe access Cow and Fence from the top you can come in via the old Black/Bowns Trail from either Lake Powell at Bowns Canyon or from near the head of Stevens Canyon (or by boat from Halls Creek). It seems such a trip would be about exploring the slickrock above the canyons rather than about the canyons (most of which are deep and wide) themselves.

    The Black/Bowns Trail is an old Cattle Trail going all the way from Bowns Canyon, across the heads of those canyons and into Halls Creek. It was built around 1896 and hasn't seen any "official" cattle use in many decades, but there used to be wild cows there until the late 1980's. I believe they only used the trail in winter because there is no water. Going after a rainstorm or in winter seems like the only practical way to explore that area.

    Of note, mammoths and other megafauna used to inhabit Bowns Canyon and hang out in the alcoves:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bechan_Cave

    I'm sure you already know, but Steve Allen's Canyoneering 3 and Kelsey's Lake Powell book mention a little about the area, but after that you're on your own.

    Unless you hit it right after or even during a rainstorm, I'd go now. Even in late March that would be a lot of water to try and carry in there.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2021
  14. winchestertonfield

    winchestertonfield

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    I just wanted to clarify something Scott.

    You said "Cow Canyon has a moki step route in the East Fork, but most will want a rope. You could get into Fence from Cow. There isn't much of a canyon above the headwalls, so it's better to just visit from the bottom. Steve Allen once told me there's a 400 foot high set of Moki steps somwhere in Cow that would be worth seeing. I don't know where it is."

    Have you done said moki sets in the east fork of Cow, and do they access the rim? If Yes, it would seem those would be the moki steps SA was referring to No? LUC in the east fork at USGS marker 4626T seems to be the most reasonable e/e. Looks closer to 500' feet though... butterflies in my stomach just writing it.
  15. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    No. Steve Allen told me that somewhere in Cow Canyon is a set of moki steps going 400 feet straight up a cliff. The moki step entrance in the east fork is only 10-15 feet. See page 220 in Canyoneering 3 on pg. 220. The entrance is in this area:

    moki.JPG

    PS, to clarify I haven't done the route into Cow Canyon or seen the 400' wall of moki steps; the information was given to me. I have explored a bit in the area, but have not done the route into Cow. Just so we're all clear on that.

    While in Moki Canyon (which I hiked with Steve Allen), we got on the subject of moki steps and he told me the story of the 400' cliff with moki steps in Cow Canyon. I don't know where they are, but it wouldn't be the route I mention above or in Steve Allen's book.

    I wasn't suggesting that the 400' of moki steps would make a viable route, but would be cool to see.

    Actually there are a lot of crazy looking moki step routes that can be seen in the lower Escalante. The most impressive I have seen are in David Gulch, but Steve Allen said the most impressive he has seen were in Cow Canyon, so they must be really something if they are more impressive than the ones in Davis Gulch.

    Now concerning the route into Cow, looking at the info, SA rates it at 5.9. You had better not rely on using the route for water unless you have good climbers with you. Even if you are a good climber, SA says the route is not soloable.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2021
  16. winchestertonfield

    winchestertonfield

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    I agree with you that those moki steps in Davis Gulch are pretty wild.

    Thanks for clarifying, I wasn't sure if you actually meant 400' of exposure with a moki section or a full 400' of moki steps. Regardless, I'm not gonna do anything stupid. And agree, I want to see that. I wouldn't cliff myself out without water trying to find my way into a remote canyon with only one entrance, been there done that. Thanks for looking out, sincerely. Thanks for the pointing out that SA section and for the map detail that's right where I was looking.

    Right now its just me and 1 friend, but trying to recruit 1 other. Neither of us are "climbers", but not afraid of heights either. The theme of this trip is more exploratory, so taking time with route finding and having contingency plans is all part of it. I did SA's 5.2 rated climb (from the Scorpion sand dune to Ezra Bench on the Escalante) solo some years ago. I found myself doing a full off-width fist jam in that crack trying to mantle about 30' off the deck. Did I mention that I'm not a climber. So if that was rated 5.2, I'm not going to attempt a 5.9. I was surprised on that crack route, because I think he is normally conservative with his climbing ratings. I would call that at least a 5.4, but what do I know. I suppose it would have felt a lot easier with a partner however.

    I was momentarily considering taking an inflatable dinghy down to Cow/Fence not sure if that would work, or be worth it. I'm sure hiking that section is pretty wretched.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2021
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