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Retreat from Buckskin Gulch
Sunday, March 9
Dawning clear and bright, today was pretty straightforward. We had decided we were going to turn around and head back the way we came, ensuring an early exit and lots of time to drive to our next destination: the Escalante region.
courtesy PChen
Chilly Willy
Very Cavern-like
Heading Back
We got started at 8am, and took more time to enjoy the wondrous beauty of the Gulch. Our speedy and rushed walk yesterday didn't need to be duplicated today: the weather was good, we had lots of time, and not a lot of distance. We knew where the long sections of pools were, too, so we could more intelligently switch between sandals and boots. Life was better today.
courtesy PChen
Ochre and Blues
Heading upstream
Jenn wades a cold one
When passing through a notably bouldery section in the Gulch, Brian had a most unfortunate mishap. He slipped while stepping up past a muddy pool and flipped back, head-over-heels right into the pool. As it turned out, it was a few feet deep, and he was completely submerged. When I heard the yelp and splash, I initially thought it was Scott that had fallen in.
courtesy PChen
Andrew hikes thru mud (BAD TS)
Bedraggled Brian
Not lookin' so good...
I ran back, thinking there might be some serious injury, but Brian had already pulled himself out and was standing, dripping and bedraggled-looking, holding a muddy and dripping camera from its strap.

Feeling sorry for Brian, but glad that he'd only lost his sunglasses, we moved away from the pool and took a good long break. Poor guy.
Hiking beneath Ochre Walls
Reaching a sunny spot
Brian's Nirvana
The rest of the way out of Buckskin Gulch was a pleasant stroll interrupted by a few stretches of icy wading. The water still had that residual sting of extreme coldness to it, and I think I now have a good handle on what it would feel like to do a Polar Bear swim. We arrived back at the junction of Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch around noon, and we spent a wonderful half hour or so basking in the warm mid-day sun. No more icy pools!
View from below
Artful Mud
More freezing pools
courtesy PTruong
Back at the junction
Back up the wash
Still lookin' bedraggled
The walk back up Wire pass was uneventful, and by the time we arrived back at the trailhead an hour or so later, we were all quite hot. I resolved to come back and do this fabulous route when conditions were just a wee bit warmer! I'm quite curious as to how far we were from the infamous "cesspool", and to explore the rest of this amazingly long slot. I shall return!
courtesy SRector
courtesy SRector
courtesy PTruong
Back at the trailhead
Still buddies
Interested in seeing more images from our Buckskin Gulch Backpack? Click here to go to a special "focus on" page that contains 38 additional Bucksin Gulch backpack pictures.
Interactive Trackmap & Photo Points - Bucksin Gulch Backpack - Click map to expand
Elevation over Distance
Elevation over Time Day 1
Elevation over Time Day 2
Buckskin Day 1
Start Time: 11:13a.m.
End Time: 5:33p.m.
Duration: 6h20m
Distance: 11.95 km (7.43 mi)
Average Speed: 1.9 km/hr (1.2 mph)
Start Elevation: 4890ft (1490m) *
Max Elevation: 4890ft (1490m) *
Min Elevation: 4396ft (1340m) *
End Elevation: 4414ft (1345m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 12ft (4m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 482ft (147m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph
Buckskin Day 2
Start Time: 8:53a.m.
End Time: 3:02p.m.
Duration: 6h9m
Distance: 11.46 km (7.12 mi)
Average Speed: 1.9 km/hr (1.2 mph)
Start Elevation: 4322ft (1317m) *
Max Elevation: 4915ft (1498m) *
Min Elevation: 4318ft (1316m) *
End Elevation: 4915ft (1498m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 596ft (182m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 6ft (2m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph
All piling into the Suburban, we shuttled around to the Whitehouse trailhead (this is where we were supposed to come out at the end of the day, originally), then re-arranged ourselves back into two vehicles. With our Buckskin adventure over, it was time to head to a perennial favourite: the Escalante!
Originally I had planned to take a more interesting route : the Smokey Mountain Road. Word was that there were still unpassable sections in the high country of the Kaparowits Plateau, so we decided to take Cottonwood canyon road instead, which would cut us up directly to highway 12. That wasn't to be either, since we discovered that the road was closed for repairs. That meant a long paved drive all the way back to Kanab, up to Panguitch, over Bryce Canyon and finally to Escalante. A 2+ hour detour! (Scenic, though)
courtesy PTruong
courtesy PTruong
Red Canyon
A night at the Cafe
We all were keen for a nice bed and a shower, so we decided to hole up at the Prospector Inn (a modern two-story motel that we've stayed at several times before). Much flatter than our cramped, slanted spot in Buckskin!
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