Hike Update: Death is the end, yet need not be Hollow

Title too serious?

How about… “It’s all fun and games until somebody loses a toe”?

So, Little Death Hollow will be the end of my hike. 🙁

Honestly, I haven’t been completely truthful with you. With the satellite phone it is extremely difficult to do updates. I usually give just the highlights of the day and the general “all’s well” for my loved ones. However, the truth is I’ve had a tough go this outing.

On Day 4 I began to develop several blisters. This is not highly unusual, as I normally treat them and they eventually callous over in a few days and my feet harden. However, this time one blister on my right foot must have gotten infected despite my best efforts to keep it clean. By Day 8 it became pus-filled and very swollen and the entire toe was red. This affected my walking speed (and comfort) and may have contributed to my next injury — a strained lower leg muscle on my opposite leg. This slowed me down even more as it was extremely painful to go downhill or across irregular surfaces (there are a lot of those in southern Utah!)

So… for the last few days I’ve basically been hobbling through the desert. I don’t think either injury is that serious, I just need rest and to be in a healing environment — and to continue to push forward 15+ miles a day through sand and water, across slickrock and boulders, is definitely NOT that environment. I mean I guess I could push on and self-amputate my toe if needed, but that doesn’t sound like a very good situation for me — or a very worthy sequel to the movie 127 Hours.

Thus… it’s with a very heavy heart that I decided to abandon my Bryce to Moab Hike on Day 11. I love being ‘out there’, but with my current situation I thought it was best to pull myself out while I was at the rendezvous with my parents, than to let the situation possibly get worse and find myself deeper in the wilderness with far fewer options.

I am never out to set speed records on my hikes — if you see the size of my pack you would know this to be the case. Instead I love to take lots of pics and videos and have as much fun as possible. In my current state, this hike began to be not fun. So, it is best I take the break, heal up… and do it all again later! 🙂

As I recoup I will post more details/pics/video on what from this point on will be called “The Bryce to Little Death Hollow Hike”.

Thanks for following along.

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  1. Sorry Jamal, I am a bit slow! I think I finally get your point: head north from the volcano, to your crossing point (Gulch/Escalante terminal), or any decent river entry point, then follow the river E to Horse. Have I got it? We would be doing this mid-June, so perhaps the water is a blessing.

  2. Hi Jamal,

    Thanks for your encouragement. Cool picture of the ladder(s), but I don’t know where the ‘ladders’ spot is. Perhaps you could email, or post a little map section (w way points?) of the route you would take if If you were heading from the Red Breaks slots/Volcano to Little Death Hollow with the easiest route in mind (rather than the route you took?). Not sure if such a “connector” route is mentioned in Allen’s Canyoneering 3 (on it’s way to me via my daughter). Thanks again for your advice; terrific pictures.

    • The Ladders route is detailed in Allen’s book and is just downstream from where the Gulch terminates at the Escalante. If you look at the map on that other trip report it shows the general route. Personally I’d prefer to go UP this route and then back down via the sand dune. Email me and I’m happy to provide more detailed information as best I can.

      • Ok, I think I get it. by UP you mean south (ie the route shown in green on your map)? and then after seeing Red Breaks etc, head ENE via the route you took to get to Horse/LDH? The link I sent you by email (not posted here) follows the bench between the 2nd & 3rd long slot (a little over half way between your camp 3 and the Escalante river), east to an old cattle route down Horse, then around the bend to LDH. How long do you think it would take from from the Gulch/Escalante confluence to the volcano?

  3. Very inspiring report. I am thinking of doing the LDH-Wolverine loop with my two adult sons next June. Your trip + photos makes me wonder if it would a feasible/good hike from LDH trailhead to the Volcano/West fork Red Breaks. Any advice is appreciated. We will be carrying less weight each than you, and it seems like water is reliable in Horse Canyon.

    • Thanks, David.

      You could definitely connect those two areas for a longer hike. If you wanted to make a loop out of it, you could return from the Red Breaks area via the ‘ladder’ route. See my other report: http://www.acrossutah.com/wordpress/?p=529. From here you could walk down the nice stretch of Escalante back to Horse Canyon. You could also visit the lower end of the Gulch if you wanted. I haven’t done it, but there is also an overland route connecting Lower Gulch to Horse Canyon if you wanted to return that way.

  4. I go as light as I can, but I’m far from ultralight. My pack usually tops out at about 45 pounds when fully loaded with 7-8 days of food and a gallon of water. This means that most of the time mid-trip when near water I’m running 35-40lbs. It could be even lower, but I refuse to give up my electronics, my sandals, my mini-pillow and my heavy/durable/pocketed pack! Congrats to you on getting that low in weight. I think it’s always a balance of getting as light as possible w/o sacrificing too much of what makes one comfortable.

  5. Jamal, What does your pack weigh when packed for a hike….top weight will get you how many days…just curious….once made a 35 lb pack go 10 days and hiked into Grand Canyon for 3 days with 22 lbs….seems like you need bigger shoes…another size up to give the toes room…love this sight…sets my mind to dreaming…best Allen Bealle

  6. Good stuff. I love Utah and you allow me to live it vicariously.

  7. Patty sutherland

    Jamal I am a friend of your mom’s. Too bad about having to stop earlly but better now than later and as you said your self getting far into the hike and more difficult to get help. You will do it again , we all know you will. I sure do enjoy reading your posts and glad to continue reading when you are gonna hike again. Glad you are with your parents and getting healed and I will bet some pampering. Sincerely , Pat Sutherland

  8. Was hiking Little Death Hollow the day you were suppose to rendezvous with your parents(great folks). I know it was hard for me healthy climbing over dead cows and massive rock piles. Glad you finally made it out

    • Heya Terri — thanks for visiting my site. Hope we didn’t disturb you guys with my late arrival that night.

  9. Glad you still have all your toes 🙂 Infections are not to be ignored, smart decision. Looking forward to seeing more of your wonderful pictures & video.

  10. Sorry dude for the toe, thanks for posting all you do, and I enjoyed your videos in the past. Much support from Salt Lake! Get better and get out there again!

    • Thanks, Brian. It’s a bummer to have to call it quits — but I’m glad I didn’t end up a search and rescue story!

  11. Better get your deal ready. Adam is preparing the script “127 Hours and 30 Minutes: My Missing Toe”, to star Daniel Day Lewis making his great comeback from My Left Foot.