SWH – Part 3 – Escalante to Tropic

Western Scrubjay

Distance:  98 miles (157.7 km)

Start:  Escalante, UT

Finish:  Tropic, UT

Time:  5 days (Mar.9-13, 2012……..including a rest day in Escalante)

Daily Average:  19.6 miles (31.5 km)

Total Distance:  484 miles (778.8 km)


  • Round Valley Narrows: An incredible 1.5 mile long slot canyon. Chock full of snow and ice, this stretch made for more than a few slippery/slidey moments.
  • Joe’s Burger Shack: The final eight miles into the tiny gateway town of Tropic were on a paved road. The saving grace of this otherwise unenjoyable stretch was Joe’s place. Hands down the best burger on the trail. Indeed, after devouring a double burger with the lot (each patty weights 0.5 lbs), I promptly ordered another. Two lbs of beef which I soon followed up with the obligatory litre of Breyer’s ice cream.
  • Paria River Hole-in-the-wall spring: A little bit of liquid heaven amidst a veritable sea of cow pattie infested, silty, chemical laden creeks and rivers. Favourite spring on the Hayduke Trail. A shout out to Ryan Choi (2008 Hayduke alumni) for bringing this gem to the awareness of future thru hikers.


  • Eight mile paved road walk into Tropic (Highway 12).
  • Multiple (approximately 15) pre-dawn fordings of the Paria river. Windy and temps just below freezing made for some very cold feet.

Notes & Musings:

  • Dinosaurs, Keystone Light & Breakfast Burritos: The second morning out of Escalante we were fortunate to run into a paleontology team from the Denver Museum of Natural History. In addition to filling in some of our many blanks on the history of the Colorado plateau, the guys were kind enough to share with us a hearty helping of bacon, eggs and tortillas.
  • What’s in a Name?: Not long after passing the impressive Grosvernor Arch, our water situation was fast becoming an issue. A couple of potential sources were bone dry and both Mike and I were running low. About this time a pickup truck driven by a local rancher by the name of Kelly Shakespeare happened by. After listening to our plight, Kelly was kind enough to offer us a gallon of water, which he apologetically explained may have a lingering orange flavour due to its former container. We smiled and said that wouldn’t be a problem. Indeed, if truth be told, I was that thirsty that he could have said that he had used the vessel as a piss bottle and it wouldn’t have made a difference (well, maybe a little). Before he drove off, I couldn’t resist asking Kelly whether he was any relation to his famous English namesake. With a straight face he replied that some generations back his family did actually make the move from Stratford-upon-Avon to Utah. He was such an ernest guy, I’m still not sure whether he was pulling my leg or not.

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