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Thread: Confessions of Stupidity: Little Death Hollow

  1. #1

    Confessions of Stupidity: Little Death Hollow

    I have spent most of my life in the outdoors, and I'm very comfortable in how to survive in an emergency situation. This weekend I was given a reminder of how un-nurturing "Mother Nature" can be, and given a good dosage of humility.


    So let me save you the trouble of calling me names, because I admit that I behaved stupidly and am lucky to be alive.

    Here is my confessional / trip report:

    My wife and kids were out of town and my usual Outdoors friends were all busy (or recently split up), so I decided to go hike Zebra Canyon by myself (I know going into the outdoors by yourself isn't recommended but I figured Zebra Canyon is fairly popular and I sent my weekend plans to my wife with instructions to send someone to look for me if she hasn't heard from me by Monday morning.

    Being by myself I was able to hike Zebra Canyon in less time than I expected. It was my first time hiking Zebra Canyon and I thought it was beautiful!

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    I finished by 8pm on Saturday, so I drove over to Little Death Hollow which was an alternate activity on my route if I finished up Zebra in time. I slept at the trail head of Little Death Hollow and started hiking around 7:30am in the morning.

    Here is a quick list of all the things I did wrong on my hike:




    • Did a hike I had never done before by myself which I did not thoroughly plan out.
    • Went to a remote area where nobody was around to help or report trouble
    • Did not thoroughly research the hike: I thought Little Death Hollow & Wolverine Canyon was a 7 mile loop and obviously connected)
    • Had the wrong GPS coordinates format and continued with the hike with the assumption "I'd figure it out"
    • Did not review my location and tracks sufficiently
    • Due to believing it was only a 7 mile hike, I did not ration my water
    • More than anything I was over confident and under prepared.




    When I showed up, I wasn't sure where the trail was, so I used my drone to scout around to ensure I was going the right direction. I left with about a gallon and a half of water, a sandwich, and a bag of "Trolli Sour Watermelon Sharks" with the expectation that I would return within about 3 hours.


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    I hiked in and it was a beautiful hike. It took a couple of miles before the hike became great, but it did become awesome! Having confessed how irresponsible I was go there unprepared and alone, I will also confess that I loved being the only person in the world doing that hike that day. In my enjoyment, I didn't realize that every step I took that day was a step against myself. After about 3 hours of hiking, I was getting nervous but I hoped that my GPS (Garmin 64st) was just not getting a signal because of the canyon (and I was having so much fun that I just wasn't checking my location like I should have) so I continued but after 6 hours, I was over 8 miles away from my van as the crow flies and I realized that something had to be really wrong.

    So I reviewed my map further and realized that I was in the wrong canyon. I was following the wash instead of the trail and hiked through a lot of Horse Canyon. After 10 minutes I decided that I needed to go back and follow my GPS tracks to get back to the van but at this point I only had 1 liter of water remaining and when I returned to hiking my body was more noticeably sore.

    So I hiked back the way I came. I knew there was a small stagnant pond within 3 miles of the trailhead, so as I hiked back I was careful to save at least 300ml of water until I reached the stagnant pond. As I became further dehydrated I literally saw a mirage that I thought was water and my body became very achy.

    When I reached the small pond I drank the rest of my water and filled up my life straw container with the water from the pond (which had cow feces floating in it), I recalled there being a deeper pond not far ahead (which I hoped to be cleaner) so I continued on. I didn't find the deeper pond, and I remember having read that you could filter urine through a LiifeStraw, it may have made it sanitary to drink it did NOTHING to help the flavor.

    So I plugged my nose and drank and then used the "Sour Watermelon Sharks" to mask the flavor.

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    Having flown the drone over the area previously, I knew that I was now within a mile and a half of the van, but my body was exhausted. I had considered resting and continuing later but I was concerned that if I stopped, I would not be able to continue later. So I pushed on until I got back to my van and hot water (which all of my water was by this point) had never tasted better.

    Reviewing my GPS tracks I discovered when I got home that hiked 27 miles. I limped for a couple of days and still have not felt like I can consume enough water since then, but I walked away healthy and with a renewed respect for nature.

    The first 2/3rds of my footage from that hike was happy and fun and the last 3rd was more of a "Man vs Wild" type video. I selectively edited the video to reflect the good times and trimmed out my panic and concern.



    P.S. I just got my drone, so I didn't know at the time how to adjust the camera angle and that is why the propellers are so visible in the video.

    "My heart shall cry out for Moab..." Isaiah 15:5

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  3. #2
    Bogley BigShot oldno7's Avatar
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    Did you bring a dull swiss army knife, to cut your arm off?

    No arm removal, no panic
    Boycotting imlay canyon gear because I value access

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  5. #3
    You are now one up one me. I have yet to drink pee or eat human flesh. Those are two survival strategies I'm hoping to avoid in life.

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  7. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by oldno7 View Post
    Did you bring a dull swiss army knife, to cut your arm off?

    No arm removal, no panic
    "My heart shall cry out for Moab..." Isaiah 15:5

  8. #5
    This isn't criticism, but only some questions and comments.

    I know going into the outdoors by yourself isn't recommended but I figured Zebra Canyon is fairly popular and I sent my weekend plans to my wife with instructions to send someone to look for me if she hasn't heard from me by Monday morning.

    • Did a hike I had never done before by myself
    • Went to a remote area where nobody was around to help or report trouble
    As long as you told someone of your plans and where you are, I wouldn't consider this a mistake. Plenty of solo climbers are admired. I would always tell someone where you are and when you are expected to be back though (and it seems that you did). Personally, I wouldn't call this a mistake.

    • Did not thoroughly research the hike: I thought Little Death Hollow & Wolverine Canyon was a 7 mile loop and obviously connected)
    It might be 7 miles one way to Horse Canyon from Little Death Hollow, but not round trip. Maybe this is where the 7 miles comes into play?

    I was getting nervous but I hoped that my GPS (Garmin 64st) was just not getting a signal because of the canyon (and I was having so much fun that I just wasn't checking my location like I should have) so I continued but after 6 hours, I was over 8 miles away from my van as the crow flies and I realized that something had to be really wrong.

    So I reviewed my map further and realized that I was in the wrong canyon. I was following the wash instead of the trail and hiked through a lot of Horse Canyon.
    Hmmm. So did you just miss the Little Death Hollow/Horse Canyon junction and go down to the Escalante River, or did you go up Horse Canyon from the Little Death Hollow/Horse Canyon junction and miss Wolverine Canyon?

    After 10 minutes I decided that I needed to go back and follow my GPS tracks to get back to the van but at this point I only had 1 liter of water remaining and when I returned to hiking my body was more noticeably sore.

    So I hiked back the way I came. I knew there was a small stagnant pond within 3 miles of the trailhead, so as I hiked back I was careful to save at least 300ml of water until I reached the stagnant pond. As I became further dehydrated I literally saw a mirage that I thought was water and my body became very achy.
    OK, I'm confused. Horse Canyon has a crystal clear (though sometimes cattle polluted) stream through it starting at the line cabin north of the Little Death Hollow/Horse Canyon junction and flowing to the Escalante River. I have never heard of it drying up. There are also three crystal clear springs near the junction where you can drink the water straight out of the rock (no purification needed).

    Are you saying that the stream was dry below the line cabin? I assume that you missed the springs as well? I can see missing two of the springs, but if you were in Horse Canyon and backtracked to Little Death Hollow, there is no way to miss the flowing creek. If there was no flowing creek, is it possible that you were actually in Wolverine rather than Little Death Hollow?

    Reviewing my GPS tracks I discovered when I got home that hiked 37 miles.
    This is really confusing. Even if you missed either junction mentioned above, it wouldn't be possible to hike 37 miles without backtracking several times or wandering around. Did you backtrack more than once?

    Is there any way you can post you GPS track?

    Anyway, it is good that you are safe.
    Utah is a very special and unique place. There is no where else like it on earth. Please take care of it and keep the remaining wild areas in pristine condition. The world will be a better place if you do.

  9. Likes Glenn liked this post
  10. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott P View Post

    As long as you told someone of your plans and where you are, I wouldn't consider this a mistake. Plenty of solo climbers are admired. I would always tell someone where you are and when you are expected to be back though (and it seems that you did). Personally, I wouldn't call this a mistake.
    In general there is nothing innately wrong hiking by yourself in the middle of nowhere, but I believe that if you are going to do so (especially if you have small kids at home) you should be more prepared (better maps, coordinates, water rationing, etc.). But I appreciate your wanting to give me the benefit of the doubt :)


    Quote Originally Posted by Scott P View Post
    This is really confusing. Even if you missed either junction mentioned above, it wouldn't be possible to hike 37 miles without backtracking several times or wandering around. Did you backtrack more than once?
    The reason why I believe I was in Horse Canyon was my GPS tracks list me as being in a canyon that panoramio users labeled as Horse Canyon on Google Earth. On my way back I did explore multiple offshoots hoping to find either Wolverine Canyon, or a shortcut back. On my way down I walked through deeper water than I had found on my back up and missed the deeper water because of attempting to take one of those off shoots.

    When I arrived at the trailhead the night before I reset the odometer and trip and when I finished my GPS listed my mileage at 37 miles for the day and with the exception of minimal exploration before the hike, my whole day (14+ hours) was that hike.
    "My heart shall cry out for Moab..." Isaiah 15:5

  11. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott P View Post

    Is there any way you can post you GPS track?
    Yes. My GPS is at my office right now, but I will try and post it this week.
    "My heart shall cry out for Moab..." Isaiah 15:5

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  13. #8
    Moderator jman's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing DiscGo.
    What a total epic for you!

    It will be fun to see your GPS track.
    ●Canyoneering 'Canyon Conditions' @ www.candition.com
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    "There are two ways to die in the desert - dehydration and drowning." -overhearing a Park Ranger at Capitol Reef N.P.
    "He who walks on the edge, will eventually fall."

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  15. #9
    Are you sure this isn't a troll thread?

    Glad you made it out ok, and I think these discussions are very helpful to the community at large.

  16. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by DiscGo View Post
    Yes. My GPS is at my office right now, but I will try and post it this week.
    I just checked my GPS, and I'm disappointed to say that the only track that my GPS saved from Sunday is the trip home and not the hike itself.
    "My heart shall cry out for Moab..." Isaiah 15:5

  17. #11
    Moderator jman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscGo View Post
    I just checked my GPS, and I'm disappointed to say that the only track that my GPS saved from Sunday is the trip home and not the hike itself.
    Boo....

    You are banned foreverz from Bogley.

    :P


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    ●Canyoneering 'Canyon Conditions' @ www.candition.com
    ●Subscribe to my friend Jeff's Youtube Channel - you can watch our adventures there.
    ●Hiking Treks (my younger brother's website): hiking guides at www.thetrekplanner.com
    "There are two ways to die in the desert - dehydration and drowning." -overhearing a Park Ranger at Capitol Reef N.P.
    "He who walks on the edge, will eventually fall."

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  19. #12
    I second the boo.

    Is there anyway you could draw your route on the map? Don't leave us hangin'.
    Utah is a very special and unique place. There is no where else like it on earth. Please take care of it and keep the remaining wild areas in pristine condition. The world will be a better place if you do.

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  21. #13
    I'll wager that you got bogus GPS tracks that zig-zag all over the place. I've had freaky GPS errors just hiking along a cliff; it's almost certainly going to be worse in a canyon,

    For example, here is my unedited GPS track along the Weeping Rock/East Rim trail from April:
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    The East Rim trail (in purple) is about 0.9 miles from the base to the bend where it meets Echo Canyon. The GPS track to that point recorded 2.8 miles. When I realized how funky it was, I saved the track and restarted the unit (Garmin Oregon 550t). That was along a cliff wall and not completely blocked.

  22. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn View Post
    I'll wager that you got bogus GPS tracks that zig-zag all over the place. I've had freaky GPS errors just hiking along a cliff; it's almost certainly going to be worse in a canyon,.
    I just purchased the Garmin 64st this last month (finally replacing my old Rino 530) because its quad helix antenna is supposed to work in slot canyons but you are probably right.
    "My heart shall cry out for Moab..." Isaiah 15:5

  23. #15
    When was this trip and what was the weather that day? Specifically the temps? My only experience with heat exhaustion/dehydration happened a few years ago in Hard Day Harvey in July. We pretty much agreed to stick to Zion or the mountains in summer after that scary day.

    Sent from my SM-G900P using Tapatalk

  24. #16
    It is always good no matter what when/how you make it out. I have hiked/ backpacked solo for about 75 percent of my outdoor carrier. My last Utah trip was a solo car camp hike for about 6 days. I backpacked Wolverine Death Hollow years ago. Mainly to get the light for photos. Personally I don't use a GPS, take a Spot, not do I usually tell anyone specifically where I am. I once told my boyfriend I was in Wyoming in the Winds for week and he told everyone I was in Montana. Scratch that, still have the boyfriend. I am old school, take a map and know how to use it. I have a bunch of Nat Geo TOPO programs, and take that on a laptop with a portable printer into the field, and if I don't have the preprinted map and change plans can print one on the spot. Every few years I practice a solo trip with minimal equipment, no map and no knowledge of the area before hand. The purpose is to use my surroundings, sun moon position and lay of the land to navigate, and observation to locate shelter water etc. Like the old guys did. It's come in handy in a few situations in the past. Just my experience, right , wrong or indifferent.
    You can rest when you're dead

  25. #17
    I was reviewing my trip and I believe I must have forgotten to clear my tracks from Zebra Canyon the day before. So I believe I actually hiked 27 miles instead of 37.
    "My heart shall cry out for Moab..." Isaiah 15:5

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