Tanner Rapids to Escalante Creek Mouth
Total Mileage- 8.6 miles
Total Elevation Gain- 1200 feet
Total Elevation Loss- 1200 feet
The morning at Tanner Beach was cool in the low 50’s… which was perfect. The skies were promising- already a clear and beautiful blue. I could tell the pictures for this day were going to be epic. The morning views at the river were dramatically different than even the evening prior. Our plan for the day included an 8.6 mile hike with 1200 feet of ascent taking us away from the Colorado, and then 1200 feet of descent back to the river. Our camping destination would be just short of the most talked about landmark that we would encounter- Papago Wall.
For the next day and a half we would be on the Escalante Route. As you can see from the picture above there is a clear pathway heading west from Tanner Beach that delineates where the route begins. Our permit had us camping in Cardenas at the end of this day, which could be reached after just three miles of hiking but would leave us almost fifteen miles from our destination of Hance Creek at the end of day three. After some conversations with the Backcountry Office several months earlier, they advised that we hike to the far western edge of Cardenas and camp east of Papago Wall. That would even up our hikes for both days. Their advice was invaluable and really helped us on both days. I would highly recommend, when working on an Escalante itinerary, to check in with the Backcountry Office. They can give you a realistic perspective on the distances between points. But, they also told me that our proposed and accepted itinerary of four nights, five days may be too difficult for us (and we ended up doing it in four days). Take their advice and then be realistic with the condition and expertise of your group.
Around lunch time we detoured to the river and spent some time cooling off at Cardenas Beach. It was a beautiful spot to relax and swim and I would highly recommend it. I am not sure what the temperature of the water is in the summer months, but in mid-April it was ice cold. I stayed in it for about 10-15 minutes and checked the temperature on my watch, which had it around mid-50F, but it was still going down when I got out. Nonetheless, this blue/green water cooled us down before the 1200 foot ascent.
There were some absolutely AMAZING views throughout this hike and this portion of the Escalante had some of the most stunning. It didn’t hurt that we had clear skies, for the moment.
I am not much for naming all of the landmarks and geologic strata so if that is your thing… I am sorry that I can’t be of much help. However, one of the guys in our group spent a ton of time researching and knew the name of every single thing that we saw during our hike. I will have him write a guest post so that you will have some sort of idea what to look for during this hike.
During our ascent it began to cloud up quickly and hint of rain. When it began to sprinkle we were fortunate enough to have an area with some rock caves and carve outs, which we ducked into for about thirty minutes while it rained. I suppose this added to the excitement of the trip. If nothing else the sun, which had been baking us during our ascent, was now hidden. Even though it was April… it was still very hot. The remainder of the hike took us down Escalante Creek (which is dry) to the Colorado once again. The evening cleared up spectacularly with clear skies and an amazing opportunity for star gazing. I commented to the guys that this particular camping area (Escalante Creek Mouth) ranked as one of my favorites on any trip. Not as good as Elizabeth Lake and Fifty Mountain in Glacier or the Boulderfield going to Long’s Peak… but in my top five. And again, we took advantage of pumping directly from the Colorado without any problems. The water situation the next day at Hance Creek was interesting, to say the least. But more on that in the next post.
The next day would take us to Hance Creek, which ended up being the longest hiking day and the strangest location that we would encounter on this trip.