Neon Neon Neon… braving the heat in Escalante, June 2012


Went down to Escalante for a little Neon action. It being June and all, and a hot year to boot, and knowing Neon was dry dry dry; for this trip Mike Schasch and I convinced our guests that running daytrips out of a car-camp would be a much better plan than backpacking down (and back up!) in this kinda heat. (Some pictures by ME, some pics by Mike Schasch.)

This was the third and final spring Neon trip for Zion Adventure Company Mike and I ran, and each trip was very, very different. Some were inspired by the Neon Trip Jonathan and I did with Greg Aiello and Motion TV. And some were just inspired by the beauty of the Golden Cathedral, and signed on up… like Gary, Al and Dennis from the Portland Area, who are experienced mountaineers (or, at least, golfers) and therefore used to suffering (or, in Dennis’s case, frustration).

First day, I reached 10 years into my past and remembered a delightful day in March I spent in upper Brimstone and upper Spooky with Larry Halford. It did not click with me that: A. I have a terrible memory; and B. March and June do not have the same weather. So we wandered around in the sun and it was very hot. Finally found a good section of Upper Brimstone that was quite narrow for a wonderfully long time. We enjoyed the cool of it, with some downclimbs, some squeezin’s and some snakes!  Then we wandered around in the hot sun again to get back to the car. It was… kinda like fun, only different.

Squeezing down Upper BrimstoneOne of the locals...

Back to camp for a glorious sunset, and vigorous attempts to refill the depleted reservoirs of precious bodily fluids. I had no problem convincing folks that an early start was a good idea for Neon. With light packs, it took us exactly 2 hours to get to the mouth of Neon, where we took a long break. Then back into the sun, up and along the rim to the “More Fun” entrance – one hour and 15 minutes in the sun was tolerated, barely. Another bit of lunch and a brief siesta in the cool of the canyon, and then we were off downcanyon with some downclimbs, the occasional rappel, and of course the keeper pothole that people find so intimidating – Mike almost climbed it without assistance. We were up and out fairly quickly, and the pool afterwards was wonderfully cool, if only waist deep. We lingered for a bit.

Ah, into the cool shade at the mouth of Neon

Then back into the sun, past the sport entrance, down the downclimb, another rappel, then to the main Keeper, now with the wishbone in place, and the BIG EVENT, big finish.

Dennis rapping down through the holes

We pumped water and lingered in the holy space of the Cathedral, but eventually, the sun had to be braved and we hiked out via Fence. A few clouds really helped with the exit hike, and we cleared the summit before dark. A long day, but very satisfying…  thanks to all for a great day out in the wilderness.


About Tom Jones

Tom is the progenitor of Tom's Utah Canyoneering Guide, Utah's premier canyoneering information resource, and Imlay Canyon Gear, America's #1 maker of canyoneering-specific gear. If he's not canyoneering, he's probably snuggled up with a good book.
Posted on Jun 3rd, 2012 Canyoneering, Escalante, Tom Jones, Trip Report, Zion Adventure Company  ,  ,


  1. avatar

    Thanks for your report and pictures, it helped us. I’d like to add an update. By June 16, (starting at the normal entrance) there was no wading at all in the slot portion of the canyon. There was a small, maybe 4-inch deep puddle in the pothole. So much sand had piled up in it by June 16 that two of us were tall enough to exit the hole unassisted–it was less of an obstacle than the first “window” early in the slot. The “wishbone” tree/log was in the pothole.

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