Grand Canyon 1998
A nice relaxing day. Got up about 6:30 am MDT, and headed down creek to the narrows around 8:45 or so. I had been thru the narrows of Deer Creek on the GC float trip I took in October, 1988, but I had forgotten how narrow they are. I took my time photographing the head of the narrows, but the lighting was not quite right that early in the day. The narrows are very narrow over the course of a few feet, and not for the squimish. Unlike anything on the Bailey Range traverse (which was two years ago), if you make one mis-step at the wrong point, you really are dead. At the point where the narrows skinny on down, the shelf on which you are walking is sheer. If you go off the side, you are looking at probably 100 feet or so to the bottom of the gorge. If you were to somehow survive the fall, you would then be carried downstream by the roaring creek (at least it was roaring now: vastly more water in it than when I was here in the Fall of '88.) That ride, going over several cascades on the way, would end with being swept over a 150' waterfall. Not a very pleasant process to think about. Still, hundreds of folks go thru the narrows each year, and as far as I know, there have been no deaths. But it definitely gets your attention. I noticed that my palms were clammy as I approached, but I was careful, and of course, had no problems.
The trail from the lip of the formation into which the narrows is cut to the river is good in some places, rocky in others and downright tough in one spot as you drop thru a cleft in some boulders into some vegetation. I got a little off route and into some vegetation. I had to make some big steps coming off a big boulder, and came a half-step away from stepping on a small rattlesnake that was curled up in the foot path. He slithered out of the way, due to all the "Holy Shit!!! cries from me. He/she was about 2.5 feet long, and sorta yellow in color, with nice diamonds on him. I did get down to the creek/falls outlet, and took a little dip in the frosty water of the creek. The Colorado looked like chocolate milk. A&Sue got down about a half hour later, and together we watched a big party of kyakers and rafters land at the mouth of the creek. They were on a private trip, and I discussed the permit article I had just written for the Tennes-Sierran, the one about the 18 year waiting time for private permits. The leader offered us - quietly - a beer to sip. He seemed to not want to let the other folks know that we were getting some of their beer. The beer was especially appreciated, since I had not brought any lunch down with me to the falls. I was trying to keep it cool, wrapped in my sleeping bag with my water sack.
Andy poked around for awhile, looking for just the right angle to photograph the falls. Sue and I stood out near the river, chatting and cooling our blistered feet, and waiting for the sun to get on the falls. After we took some "properly lit" photos, we headed back to camp thru the narrows again. We got back to camp about 2 pm. The rest of our crew was vegging out in the shade of the Gatlinburger's camp. They had arrived about 11:30 am, and were relaxing thru the heat of the day. Will, naturally, had his tent site picked out about 200 yds from the rest of us. He was looking for shade and privacy. He values the latter more than company, which is fine. He's involved when he needs to be. Anyway, Barbara had a particularly difficult time yesterday. She got to the junction of the Surprise Valley cross-trail and the Thunder River trail at the same time I got to Deer Creek, 5:45 pm. She rested while Will and Lance hiked to Thunder River to get water and view the falls. It was surprising to me that Barbara was so fagged out, but maybe this blood pressure medicine she takes saps her energy. Lordy, on last years Wind River's trip, she seemed out in front all the time, with me dragging up the rear.
I munched till 3 pm, and then relaxed some more, trying to rest my feet, took a bath, and cooked dinner. OK, I heated up the water and poured it in Mountain House Sweet and Sour Pork. It was OK, but filling. I knew tomorrow would be tough, so I did not stay up late. I was not the only one.
© Roger A. Jenkins, 1998