Death Hollow, Day 3 - The Hollow Relents
Thursday, October 3
We "slept in" today, deciding to ease off on the attempt at an early morning departure on this, day 3 of our backpack. Given the long day and late arrival at camp the night before, and the need for a good rest and a bit of peace, this seemed like a good idea.
All of our gear is laid out on the sloping slickrock of our campsite, in an attempt at drying things out from yesterday's watery adventures. With the very low humidity and dry weather, much of the gear is indeed partially dried out. We gather for breakfast and consider the day ahead of us.
The objective for today is to make enough progress downcanyon such that we are well-positioned to complete the final distance to the jeep on the fourth and final day. That meant completing the journey down Upper Death Hollow to where the Boulder Mail Trail crosses the canyon (generally that's considered the dividing line between upper and lower). There are good campsites at the BMT crossing, and we would be comfortable there. As a stretch goal, it would be nice to continue a bit farther downcanyon in order to further ensure the ability to easily complete the backpack on the fourth day.
We think we're past the hard stuff, although we're not entirely sure, especially since we didn't cover nearly as much distance as we'd hoped the previous day. One good sign: a full flow of water had now developed in Death Hollow's creek bed. Clear, clean, flowing water. That meant that stagnant pools and chockstone downclimbs were likely a thing of the past. And the canyon had already become wider, no longer a slot, with brushy benches above the riverbanks - and that likely meant that even if we encountered deep water, there was a decent chance we could hike around it.
Preparing to head off, day 3
We were ready to depart around 10 a.m., just as the morning sun finally was beginning to illuminate our little sloping shelf of a campsite. We started off wearing all the neoprene we had, and with many of our floaties already inflated. We were ready to quickly tackle (and dispatch) any swim section we encountered.
For the most part, we didn't have to swim. Generally the creekbed was wider and shallower, and often we could simply wade directly down the watercourse. There were indeed some deeper pools, and some were definite swimmers - but as predicted, we were mostly able to (sometimes very delicately) skirt around the edges of these pools. We manage to proceed forward without a lot of effort or wasted time standing around.
There are usually vegetated benches adjacent to the creek now - but not yet much in the way of paths. It continues to be clear that there's not much human travel in the upper portion of Death Hollow. In those times where we desire to detour around a deep section or cut a corner, we need to be wary of brambles, cactus and other thorny things. Sophie especially seems to have a penchant for getting into the nasty, spikey stuff. Soon she is all cut up with scratches and nicks from head to toe.
Death Hollow continued to morph. The walls soared higher. The streambed began to meander back and forth, cutting into the big walls and starting to create overhanging alcoves. Groundwater seeps and hanging gardens on the lower walls also became common. And with the wider, meandering creek - open benches with big trees and open fields of more arid vegetation.
Ripples under the clear water
What's Brian doing back there?
Any anxiety about progress and the lack thereof due to obstacles gradually fades as we cover more and more trouble-free ground. On top of that, It's another beautiful day of calm air, clear skies, moderate temperatures, and bright sunshine. Lunch today is a relaxed and happy affair, rather than just a rushed refuelling stop.
Reduced depth, increased scenery
Post-lunch continues the theme of trouble-free walking and wading and good progress. We've not encountered any deep pools or swimming sections in quite some time now, so we deflate the floaties and store them away. We look forward to our next milestone, the arrival at the upper Boulder Mail Trail entrance.