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Canyoneering Adventure: Escalante Day Three

Peekaboo | Spooky Canyons
19 May 2021

On lands of the Southern Paiute, Pueblos and Ute Peoples designated as BLM/Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Southern Utah

Written by Angela Hawse, Eddie Bauer Guide

We woke up pre-dawn at 5:00 a.m. to get a jump on cool temperatures and beat the crowds into these famous slot canyons. After quickly breaking down camp, tossing some coffee back and jumping into the adventure mobile we jammed down the washboard, historic Hole in the Rock Road. Ambling along Pinyon-Juniper, wide open forests at first light, the road dropped into sagebrush and classic desert landscape different in character than the northern side of the Escalante River. We arrive first at the Dry Fork of Coyote Gulch trailhead, reveling in the morning light as we shouldered our light packs for the adventure ahead.

With desert flowers, plants and blooming cacti dotting the landscape, a cool breeze combined made for an amazing start to the day. We were greeted with a pleasant surprise only a mile into our hike, finding that the Dry Fork of Coyote Gulch itself had a spectacular narrow slot section which was relatively easy and a great warm-up for what was to come.

After winding our way through the Dry Fork in awe, the canyon opened up briefly to spit us out right at the entrance to Peekaboo Canyon, guarded by a 15-foot vertical section. We took a quick break, and let a party of two pass us so Jules could capture some layering shots with the sandstone walls as a backdrop.

The 15-foot step was challenging but had secure footing and good holds. I would have used a rope for Nailah and Jules if I had one, or knew one could come in handy but careful coaching and a helpful hand for the last move was adequate. What followed was one of the most magical days and experiences any of us have experienced in the desert and to share it together was fabulous!

Peekaboo narrowed, winded and twisted into passages that revealed something new around each bend. Little steps and squeeze sections required us to un-shoulder our packs and pass them before or behind and up and over. Truly incredible! We paused in the shade for water and a snack before coming out at the top and traversing up and over to drop into Spooky Canyon.

Even more spectacular, going down Spooky lead us into sections narrower than we thought we’d actually fit and a drop or two that required 15 feet of careful, spotted and coached down climbing. It’s hard to express in words how spectacular this canyon was and how it took a team effort to navigate it. I’ll let my photographs capture the essence and I can’t wait to see the ones that Jules took!

In all, my GAIA GPS track captured a round trip of 7.61 miles with an elevation gain and loss of 435 feet. The hike back out the Dry Fork slot was fortunately shaded and spectacular with a welcome breeze greeting us for the last mile of open desert back to the trailhead.

After high-fives with big smiles we hopped our tired little doggies back into the adventure mobile for showers, a good meal and last evening together in Escalante. What a fabulous shared adventure with Nailah and Jules! Those gals have some grit! We’re already talking about Escalante 202 next year! Thanks for the support and promoting adventures that are accessible for all! Super proud to be on the EB Team! ~ AH

NAILAH BLADES

Eddie Bauer One Outside Guide

A marketing consultant and leadership coach, Nailah never thought of herself as an outdoorsy person. But when she found herself dealing with the stresses of building a new business, being a new mother, and living in a new state away from all her family and friends, she and her husband started exploring local trails. It was an epiphany. The outdoors helped her slow down, listen to her heart, and reconnect with her passion.

ANGELA HAWSE

Eddie Bauer Alpine Climbing Guide (AMGA/IFMGA)

Angela has been climbing, skiing and working full-time as a mountain guide for well over three decades. She’s one of the most experienced women guides in the industry, and one of only 11 female guides in the country to have achieved certification in all three AMGA disciplines of alpine, rock, and ski guiding.

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