FLEE THE VIRUS – A Journey to the Desert to Self Quarantine

In December, word was out about a new coronavirus, COVID-19. Most of us could care less, it’s in China, there have been a million other “coronavirus” scares; we are fine. But here we are. Quarantine. Stuck in our homes. National Parks are closed, group gatherings are null, restaurants are takeout only, schools are closed, and everyone is working from home.

What a year the last month has been.


What seems like a lifetime ago, before craziness happened and our lives changed forever, Me and Briana decided that it was time to head down to the desert to start backpacking season. We had a warm weekend (for the first of March), a Moose, and 2 nights planned out in Hackberry canyon, the southern tip of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument (GSENM).

The far reaches of the desert.

Our trip would be through the Hackberry narrows, up to Sam Pollock Arch, then further down canyon to Stone Donkey slot canyon. All in all, we had 24 miles planned out for 2 days and 2 nights.

Moose ready to hike

Saturday afternoon we got to the trailhead, got packs ready, and let a very energetic Moose lead us out to the arch. If any of you are familiar with Coyote Gulch, Hackberry Narrows is a very similar feel. Tall sandstone walls, a creek flowing down the middle to walk through, and lots of desert beauty to admire.

Hackberry narrows. about 3 miles from the trailhead till they open up.

After continuing through the narrows, the desert begins to open up into plains. This is where we split off and headed to our arch. The route up was rough. Lots of scrambling, a sketchy traverse, and no real signs of a trail.

Moose not following leave no trace. He had a hard time scrambling up the boulders.
A real sketchy traverse

Once past the traverse, the arch was fairly close. 7 miles in total from the trailhead to the arch.


WOW. Sam Polluck arch has to be the coolest arch I have ever seen. A cathedral dome with a hole, and an arch for the exit. Really a masterpiece by mother nature,

Laying on the rock looking straight up.
Our campsite for the night 11/10

We woke up ready to find what our hiking would bring for the day. We had planned for 12 miles today. A longer day, but nothing too over the top.

We backpacked out with our gear back to the main hackberry canyon, stashed out bags, then started our day hike. It quickly became apparent that today was not gonna be as easy or enjoyable as the last.

The upper Hackberry Canyon

The day was spent mostly in the river, trailblazing on shorelines, and battling bushes. We wanted to stay out of the water as it was only 50°. As we pushed further upriver, the more we wanted to call it and turn around. We decided we would make a decision at the the side canyon entrance.

The side canyon yielded no fruit. There was no trail, just cold shade, a creek, and lots of bushes to battle, not to mention another mile or so each way to the slot canyon that we didn’t have much beta on. We decided to turn back, give ourselves more time in the light, as well as put us closer for our exit the next day.

Heading back down the river

We found a spot near an old farming cabin, one of the oldest structures in GSENM. 10.5 miles today, most of which was in the cold water. Plus having to carry Briana cause she didn’t want to be in the cold water anymore…

Just scouting out for a camp spot
Views from camp
A nice clear night and a bright moon to light up the foreground

We woke up ready to head out, mostly due to the brisk 20-30° morning. Lots of layers on knowing it was water from here on out to the car.

Nice beautiful sky to wake up to
Moose wasn’t too fond of the neighbors we met.
DINOSAUR PRINTS! A big block next to the stream.
Briana basking in the sun.
Happy couple in the desert

We got back to the car, tired, but happy we got to adventure all weekend. The drive back was amazing as well. Lots of cool sights to see. We also learned daylight savings had happened while we were gone. Its funny how things like that don’t exist till you enter back into service and see.

Possibly the best road in Utah
Roadside desert texture

Overall a great journey. Quicksand, Longhorn Cows, an arch, weaving canyon walls, and isolation. All in all it was 22 miles hiked in Hackberry Canyon. A beautiful place, and I would recommend it if you haven’t been! Especially factoring in the arch and the road out!

With this trip out of the way, and returning to a reality that turned to 11 way too quick, we both realized that we needed to escape again. Society was becoming too much with coronavirus everywhere… Lucky for us, my seasonal job was ending, and Briana and taken a week off for a trip to San Diego that had fallen due to everything. The dates were planned, but where would we go?


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