Grand Canyon 1998
Scrambling through the boulders
Just another day in paradise. If you call miles and miles of boulders paradise. I left camp at 7:50 am, nice and early, but 45 min behind, A,S,L, & B. There is nothing particularly challenging about the trip to the mouth of Kanab Creek. It just takes constant "figurrin'." It is tough to go more than 20 yds without having to solve the problem of how to go thru or up and over the boulders. Nothing during the day presented a real problem, it just takes a lot of time. I had made a mile by 9:03 am, and was at the 1898T point on the quad by 11:03 am (of course, this includes brief rest stops). I had caught up to Barbara by then, and we walked/scrambled for a while together. We saw four guys walking together, going upstream. They waived, but they were higher up, and walking on a path! So Barbara and I scrambled up to the path. It was easy to follow, and had far fewer boulders. Note that the path is about 200 feet up slope from a point 100 m downstream of the 1898T point. (Ah,....GPS's). We could follow the path for a bit, but it finally came back down to the water. With all the frogging around, we still had not made much progress: at 12:38, we had only reached the river and about 356,300 E (UTM coordinates). Again, rest and lunch.
After lunch, I felt like I had to start moving a little faster, but Barbara needed to adjust her pack some more, so I went off and moved ahead. I recall that there was one major rock slide that took a long while to move through, because the boulders were huge and non-stop. As I continued along the water's edge to the extent possible, I came to a point where the cliffs block further progress, and you have to go up. At that same point (it was about 2:15 pm now, 6 hrs into this fun-filled day), I encountered a guided international group who had left the mouth of Kanab Creek just a short time ago, headed for Fishtail Canyon. They were moving very quickly, but I told them that it had taken me 6 hours to get to that point. Such did not seem to bother them, maybe because they seemed to be so skilled at rock travel. Anyway, they told me that from this point on, the going would be easy, that there was a strong path and not too many boulders. I assured them that what I had just come through was not that way. So I climbed up on to the path, maybe only 50 or 75 feet above the water level, and felt like I was on a virtual highway. It still took me an hour to get to the mouth of Kanab, but it was an easy hour. I did stop so I could set up a duck in the middle of the trail to warn Barbara and Will of the rattlesnake coiled up in the middle of the path, but by the time I had the duck established, the snake had slithered off. Sorry to have disturbed him, but I am part of the landscape too.
I made it to the mouth of Kanab by 3:30 pm. More than 7.5 hours to go less than 5 miles. A,S,&L were there by 1:30 pm, having cut 75 min off my travel time. So it can be done much faster, but not by me. We had been very lucky with the weather: It had rained for about 20 min (hailed for about 5) at 11:40 am, and had been cloudy and semi-cool for much of the day. Andy had measured the temperature when he arrived and it had been 66. I measured the temp right before dinner and it was 71. Unbelievable for the bottom of the Grand Canyon in the early part of May. It must have been freezing on the top of the North Rim. There is no water that I could find between Fishtail and Kanab. I had carried 3 qts of water, and had drunk all but a pint. What would it have been like at 95?
The sun was out now, and it afforded me the opportunity to bathe in the creek in the sunshine: terrific. There has been a major rock slide that has partially dammed the mouth of Kanab Creek. It is sort of a lake there. Better camping is on the western side of the mouth, but everyone seemed to want to stay on the east side, so that is where we camped. After our baths, we saw another one of these yellow rattlesnakes, coiled up in a bush at about head level on the wall that comprises part of the path through the trees to the creek mouth. The snake did not want to move, and we could not have him there, from a safety standpoint. We tossed a couple of stones his way, and he started to move, but unfortunately in the direction of A&S's tent. So we tossed a few more stones, and he got really mad, but he slithered off, not to be seen again.
Lance found some beers and he brought one back to camp, for everyone to have a sip. But it could not help my Richmoor Burgundy Beef dinner. It used to be a great dinner, now it is awful. Got to put that on the bottom of the list.
© Roger A. Jenkins, 1998