Davis Gulch from the Top, Escalante, UT
Time for a little more adventurous outing. We headed down the Hole in the Rock Road to check out Davis Gulch. Davis is notorious as the last known location of Everett Ruess. The lower part is now awash under Floyd Elgin Dominy Reservoir, but the rest is open for adventure. The middle is often visited by backpackers, but the upper is a very interesting slot.
Driving down Hole in the Rock Road, we pass the historic Dance Hall Rock.
We camped out on the slickrock, just past the head of Davis Gulch.
Found an easy place to climb down into the slot, and the fun begins…
Morning found us scouting out the top of the Davis Slot, looking for a reasonable way in.
An interesting slot, Davis requires a lot of strenuous downclimbs, including this one, where you crawl under a boulder.
After a slight respite, allowing the overwhelmed to exit, Davis really gets going. This is one of the longest unrelenting slots I have seen, with plenty of downclimbing, a few pools to avoid, a bit of wading and generally a lot of strenuous work.
Lots of sideways-dragging-the-pack-behind-you type narrows. A little bit of wading (sometimes swimming, I've heard). Dark, cold, wet. Long.
And finally, in a final dash of drops and pools, the canyon opens out into the sun. Warmth!
Greeness and open air suddenly seem incredible, after the claustrophobic black-and-whiteness of the actual slot.
The canyon opens out to an interesting sandy wash twisting between 300 foot tall sandstone walls. We find a few incredible sets of Moki steps up the canyon walls. Uh, 5.10? Escaping here would save us several hours of walking, but, uh, yeah, hey, you go first...
Davis opens out into a broad canyon with soaring walls, beautiful meadows and numerous Cottonwoods. Unfortunately, they had all been recently knocked down by a recent attack of beavers - 100s of trees whacked to the ground. This does not look like sustainable agriculture to me!
Amazed, we found 3 more places where moki steps had been cut boldly up buttresses out of the canyon. Some of these were 100's of feet off the canyon floor. One involved a long traverse across a slab high off the ground. Yes, in a little fresher condition, I can imagine using them to exit (maybe even enter) the canyon. But cutting them? Some ritual of manhood?
The canyon gets big and dramatic, the bottom filled with sand cut into a sharp channel, the upper being huge undercuts in impressive, orange sandstone.
Bement Arch. Big. Not all that picturesque, but very, very big.
Unfortunately, the pools of the beaver make trudging downcanyon difficult, the main channel choked with pools and brush. While very impressive, we soon tire of pushing through the prickers.
There was some concern about finding the exit, apparently unwarranted, as the cattle trail up to the rim was well marked by a fence and other remnants of the Era of the Holy Cow.
Climbing out of the canyon delivers you onto the slickrock plain. We were surprised that so early in the season, it would still be incredibly hot out. We bee-lined on the Hole in the Rock Arch, high up on Fifty Mile Mountain, and traipsed the several miles back to the Hole in the Rock Road.
And finally back to camp... Only a two mile walk along the Hole in the Rock Road and cold beers are awaiting us.