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Gloomy Slot Section
There's a brief respite during the middle of all of the watery sections, where there is a very nice flat-bottomed stretch of tight three-foot wide slot canyon. This section is probably the nicest bit of slot in the entire descent of Death Hollow (down in the lower parts of Death Hollow, things are of a much bigger scale and there are no tight slot canyon sections).
courtesy JInnes
Nice slot section
Observing the pretty architecture
Fine Slot Canyon
courtesy BConnell
courtesy BConnell
courtesy BConnell
Small pools in the pretty section
Scenic slot section
Andrew and Gino
After the nice (and easy) slot section, we encounter more chockstone-and-pool stretches, including one which seems to be "the signature", i.e. most difficult one (I recognized it from trip report pictures). Fortunately today this stretch (which you can't see the end of because it is long and has twists and turns) does not require swimming, instead being only chest deep at most. But it could easily have been. Anyway, because it's only chest-deep, we ferry packs overhead rather than getting out the floaties or the dry bags.
Deepest and longest of upper pools
Deepest and longest of upper pools
Wide stretch after slot
We get past the big long watery slot. The canyon opens up here, and we get to walk in the warm sun for a while.

After rounding a few more corners, we start to smell something... I don't know, like vinyl, oily. Then we see another watery stretch. A chockstone is wedged a few feet above the start of the water. We can't tell how deep it is because it is once again opaque, but this time the water is an unhealthy-looking black color. Like, jet black. And the oily smell is coming from it. The drop into it looks like it might be hard, too, because it seems like it might be a swim right from the drop-in, and we haven't done anything like that yet. Especially not into an oily, stinky mess. I christen this stretch of water: The Black Pool (tm).
courtesy BConnell
Nearing the Black Pool
The Black Pool
Black Pool Bypass
I do a little scouting, hoping to find an alternative. And I do. On the left, up a bit and mostly on the level, is a traversing little side path. I quickly check it out, and it leads completely past The Black Pool (tm). I run back and call for the others to come up. We're all glad we don't have to tackle The Black Pool (tm).
End of Black Pool
Bypassing the Black Pool
The moment of Truth
Below the Black Pool (tm), we start to notice a very faint trickle in the bed of the creek. Perennial water has started! We also begin to notice beaver dam activity, which is why some of the pools around here even exist (We can see that The Black Pool is partially formed from a beaver dam).

Maybe 200 yards beyond the Black Pool (tm), we come to another stretch of water - this time not stinky nor black. It's completely still, and I take a very nice shot as I'm exploring the ledges above it to see if we can climb around it. Turns out that unfortunately, no - we can't climb around this one. Gino drops in to check it out and discovers that it's got over-the-head sections of depth. Looks like swim time has finally arrived.
Floaty time
We find ourselves a warm ledge in the sun to prepare. We get out all of our water protection - dry bags, big garbage bags, and we get out the $9.99 floaties we've brought along. We get them filled up (with air), then carefully pack everying sensitive into the dry bags and the entire pack itself into the big trash compactor garbage bags. Pu and a few others find out that their floaties have some factory defects and spend some time patching them (test gear at home before leaving, folks!).
courtesy JInnes
courtesy JInnes
courtesy JInnes
Wrong way, Sophie
Guiding through the murk
Shuttle Swim
The entire length of the pool is perhaps a couple of hundred feet (80-ish metres). We discover that with careful routefinding, only a few tens of feet require actual swimming.

A few at a time, we carefully place our packs on the floaties and wade into the water. It's slow going once again, and there's a lot of back-and-forth by Gino and Brian and I to help out with the operation. It takes us... an hour and twenty minutes before everyone is down the length of the pool. Yikes!
courtesy JInnes
Shuttle Swim
Waiting his turn
Alana's swim
courtesy JInnes
Big swim complete
Once again, the foe of time (as in, it running out) began to haunt us. It was after 4pm again, and it wasn't at all clear if we were through all of the tough water sections and/or when the next suitable camping areas would be found. Certainly there were no suitable campsites around here - it was all water and brushy streambanks.

I think our group was a little more used to the uncertainty today. We simply put our heads down and continued on, knowing that the best response to our situation was to make best possible time down-canyon. The flow of water was more pronounced now, and riverside vegetation started to crowd the banks. There weren't really any footpaths through this vegetation, so often we had to bushwhack through it. Still, it was often preferable to swimming - and there were definitely stretches where more would have been required if we had stayed in the watercourse.
courtesy JInnes
courtesy JInnes
Floaties at the ready
Brush and Water
Floaties at the ready
On we pushed. We kept the floaties at the ready to quickly be able to traverse any swims we might encounter. And although we did encounter a few, they were short and we were through them in a few moments.

We kept scanning for good campsites but finding none. The canyon was still too narrow here - wide flat benches or ledges were simply not in evidence. The next known campsites - at a spot called Moonshadow canyon - were still 2 kilometres away **in a straight line** (which meant probably at least 3 or more kilometres via the windings of the canyon). It began to dawn on us (funnily enough, as sunset fast approached) that we weren't going to make that location before dark.
Pu is back there....
Weary of Wading
Negotiating the pools after dark was not an option - it would be too difficult, cold, and sketchy in general. Just as I started to contemplate how we might need to start thinking about holing up without a proper campsite for the night -- a very unpleasant prospect -- Sophie thought she heard some voices off to the right, and we stopped to listen. There they were again, yes. Then we spotted a couple of people high up on the slickrock to our right. They said hello to us, and said they too had been rushing to find camp and had just found a spot high up on the slickrock in a cozy little alcove - but that unfortunately, there was no space for us. They did suggest, however, that there were a couple of slickrock benches closer down to the watercourse that could work for us.
Marginal Campsite
We scrambled up onto the slickrock to the right to have a look around. There was indeed a rounded, sloping bench, maybe about 10 feet wide and 30 feet long. It probably could hold a couple of tents, maybe 3 if they were squeezed really tightly together. A bit more scrambling farther up and we found another 10x10 spot. Good for a third tent.

It wasn't great. Certainly less good than even last night's campsite. But the next better camp location downstream was God knows how far along, and would we even spot it without splashing past, half in the dark? No, this would do (and in fact, Pu has decided he will camp out in the open on his mat, making a bit more space available to the others).

Grateful for the remaining light of dusk (the sun had already set), we quickly set up the tents, then got about with dinner, which we had mostly in the dark. Again, now with certainty about our overnight accommodations, we could relax a bit. Overhead it was another crystal clear sky, and with no moon, we could clearly see the lane of the milky way cutting across between the canyon's walls above us. We had survived another day in Death Hollow, although it had been long, hard, and tiring. A full ten hours-and-a-half on the go, and we had managed not much more than six measly kilometres of distance.
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