Trip Planning – Harris Wash to Neon Canyon – Escalante – Places To Go

Over the past few weeks as I have started school, I have been immersed into the education side of the outdoors. As an Outdoor Recreation Management Major at Utah Valley University, we spend a lot of time obviously talking about the backcountry, but more importantly, we spend a lot of time in class talking about outdoor education. There are so many aspects to education of the outdoors, but it’s amazing that it can be traced back to brilliant mind of Kurt Hahn, who is the founder of Outward Bound. I’ll let you do your own research on Kurt Hahn, and Outward Bound, cause it’s a neat story. 
Over the last two weeks I have had an assignment to plan a backpacking trip for this coming November. Of course my mind was attracted to the Utah desert. I have always wanted to return to Neon Canyon in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. When I was a teenager, I spent a lot of time in this area, and have great memories of hiking through Coyote Gulch and seeing Neon Canyon and the Golden Cathedral for the first time. I love the desert, and I love the canyons in this area of Utah. 
To be completely honest, I am amazed that over the years with the poor planning that I have done for some trips, nothing has happened that was of serious nature. Luck would be the reason behind that. My classes this semester however have really helped me understand how important it is to plan a trip properly so that when you head out into the backcountry you are able to disconnect and enjoy the solitude of being out. But, that solitude can be severely crippled if something arises that you haven’t prepared for. 
This is my planned route for the November trip. A lot has gone in to planning a route like this. So much has to be taken into consideration to ensure that safety in these canyons is first priority. November can pose really cold water temps and weather can be unpredictable. This loop runs about 22 miles, and is planned to be done over 3 days of total hiking. Thank goodness the Grand Staircase has really good rangers that are so willing to answer questions and inform about conditions to expect. The Backpackers Field Manual By Rick Curtis has been a great resource for helping in planning for a trip like this. 
I think sometimes we take for granted to process of properly planning a trip. I was told first hand about a bear attack that happened on a NOLS course the other day, and it really made an impression on me how important being ready is. Here are things to consider when planning a trip.
– What is your route?
– Who is your emergency contact?
– What is your method of contact in an emergency situation?
– What evacuation routes are there for your planned route?
– What are the emergency numbers for the local sheriff and EMS
– What is your water availability? Springs, filter availability?
– What kind of permits do you have to acquire before the trip?
– What is the size of your group, and the experience of the people in your group?
– What gear is absolutely necessary to have for your planned route?
I am really hoping that my trip plan for my class get voted on and we end up going to Harris Wash, and if not, you’ll know that I will be headed down here soon either way.
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