Death Hollow, Day 4 - Lower Canyon and Exit to Big Flat
Friday, October 4
Sleeping out in the open is a wonderful experience. Usually when a modern human sleeps, they are removed from nature - in a house, in a hut, in a plane, even in a tent. When they open their eyes, the see constructed walls around them - there are layers, physical barriers, to the natural environment. But sleeping in the open means that it only takes a flick of the eyelids to suddenly be in nature. And when that nature includes soaring canyon walls and an inky black sky studded with stars, well... it becomes nearly a spiritual experience.
By about 6:00 a.m., I've had enough of sleep (we went to bed before 9pm, so really I've had quite a lot of sleep). It's still pitch black out, but a little sliver of early morning twilight is already visible. I take out the tripod and try to capture the starry pre-dawn scene.
The rest of the group gets up with the arrival of the light. Since we've only got about 5 and a half kilometres (3 miles) of actual distance from our campsite to the Escalante River, I'm not feeling like we need to rush. And as far as I can tell, we've only got one or maybe two sections of possible swimmyness, including the final narrows in Death Hollow.
Now on our fourth day, we're in the rhythm of the canyon. We know what to expect - stream crossings, look for the now-obvious footpath, feel with the poles and watch your step in the deeper water. Footpaths and shallow water means we make good initial progress downcanyon. In one short hour, we make it a third of the way from our campsite to the Escalante.
Once again there's continuing and subtle transformation as we hike downcanyon. The watercourse gets wider and wider and shallower and shallower. It's like walking at the beach now, with long sections of sandy, rippled riverbottom. Scenically we start to encounter beautiful little cascades and mini waterfalls, and overhead, the soaring cliffs are taller than ever.