I took three co-workers down the Escalante River at the end of April/beginning of May. We had planned for a Mid-May trip, but the snow was melting off so fast that we decided to move it up a couple weeks. The river flow was looking awesome, but then it got cold and snowy the week before we left, and hte flow dropped to just a couple CFS for our trip ... just barely enough to squeak through.
River Flow: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?cb_00 ... 2014-05-15
Snow-pack: http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/nwcc/site? ... 5&state=ut http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/nwcc/site? ... 3&state=ut and http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/nwcc/site? ... 2&state=ut
This was my third trip down the Escalante. The first two trips we ran Egypt/Fence canyon down to Crack-in-the-wall. This year we added technical canyoneering into the mix (hey, if you're already carrying rafts and backpacking gear, why not also throw in climbing gear). Since we spent time on the canyons, we decided not to run the full river. We took out at Scorpion Gulch, climbed to the rim, and cut cross-country back to Early Weed Bench road. This exit ends up being about 10-11 miles of rough hiking. I don't think I woudl really recommend it to anyone. Also, early-weed bench road is in rough shape. You need high-clearance 4x4 (narrow deep washes). We were in a Toyota Tacoma, and it was ok, but my Ford Expedition would have been too long. This was my second time using 'Escape Goats' shuttle service. http://www.escalantecanyonguides.com/ These guys are great, and having them shuttle for us simplified logistics (~$200 for a shuttle from early-weed bench to Egpyt).
The trip itself was spectacular. Perfect weather, (other than the low water). The nice campsite was taken at Neon (as always), and a small day-hiking group reached the golden cathedral just as we dropped our ropes and rappelled in, but we didn't see another soul after Neon Canyon.
You can view my summary video here:
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