Escalante: Zebra and Tunnel Slot Canyons

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Today was an easier but no less magical day in Escalante canyon country. We camped overnight out on Hole-in-the-Rock road not far from the Zebra slot canyon trailhead, allowing us to get an early start and be two of the first 6 people in. This proved to be a good move as we saw no less than 30 people pass on the way back to the van. Zebra is an up-and-back slot canyon (for most of us), so I suspect it was getting very crowded with two-way traffic around mid day.

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From the trailhead we hiked towards Zebra, named for the stripy textures you find in the slot, especially towards the end of the hike. The water was about knee high in places, so we were glad we brought our cheapo water shoes. They have good-enough traction to make it through, and we like them better than going barefoot or using our regular hiking shoes.

There’s some maneuvering required to get through the narrow climbs, but the consequences were low as we were never far off the canyon base. We do worry about twisting or breaking ankles.

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The textures, colors, and lines in the last (highest) parts of the slot were stunning and worth the wading through water and narrow climbs.

We exited the slot the same way we came in, and took some time to dry our feet and put our hiking shoes back on. The water was very cold and it turned painful, but the refreshing dip was good for our feet.

The hike over to the entrance to Tunnel slot was a fun one, spanning slick rock with a huge collection of Moqui marbles. Many of them were just so perfectly round.

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Tunnel slot is short and sweet and is notable not for the beautiful lines, but for the tunnel-through-the-rock layout. Also: knee (thigh?) deep water. This one you enter at the top and exit at the bottom.

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We dried off again, then took the 3-mile hike back to the trailhead parking lot.


Our next three days will have us heading further out Hole-in-the-Rock road, including a two-day backpacking trip to Coyote Gulch.

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