Grand Canyon 1998
Into lower Kanab
It rained, or rather showered briefly for three periods during the night: a couple around 1 am and another around 5:30 am. Enough to keep everyone in bed a little longer. I got up earlier than most. My 12-year old Clip Flashlight, that had been used the last time last year by my step-daughter Erin on a trip to the Pecos Wilderness had leaked, just like she said it would. Nothing serious, but I would not want to be out in a real rainstorm with it. Time to replace an old friend. It has been with me through a lot.
I got up around 7 am, tried to dry out some of my wet stuff that I had left outside overnight. I packed up and was out of camp by 9:12 am. I figured that this would be a long day, and I wanted to be on my way. I was really looking forward to the next two days: Lower Kanab was the real justification for this trip. I have been wanting to be here ever since I had read about Kelsey's description of Shower Bath Spring. Lower Kanab is great: just what I like in a canyon. High walls, flowing water, and lots of flowers. The inner canyon walls go up in some places more than 1200 feet in the lower part of the canyon. The bottom is 100 - 200 feet wide in places. And boy, the rocks are slippery. I have not been on such slippery stuff since I was at Big Pool in Raven Fork in the Smokies. First, the rocks under the water are covered with a fine layer of silt, which is in turn covered by algae. Slick as it gets. My water shoes, the One Sports that I got for the trip, did as well as can be expected, but going was slow, due to the slippery terrain. Very easy to slip and break a leg. The first spring I came to on the left side of the canyon was "contaminated" by run off from the rain. It was kinda cool to stand under this shower of water which was coming off the rim a 1000 feet above me. There were a few chokestones in the first 4 hours of hiking that required a little negotiation. Once I went in the water nearly up to my crotch. It was not easy, but it was my kind of canyon. I got to the mouth of Slide Canyon at 12:50 pm, and stopped for lunch. I did not go up to see the Slide of Surussus, mainly because I wanted to conserve my energy. I looked at the topo map, and knew I was only about half-way to Scotty's Hollow, our camp for tonight. A, S, & L caught up and passed me while I was there. I left the mouth of Slide canyon about 1:45 pm. I figured I had another 4 hours to go, and I was right.
Above Slide Canyon, it was more of the same. I caught up with the front group, and we stayed together for the rest of the day. As is marked on Kelsey's map, there are two sections of "Chokestone Alley." These are places where the canyon walls have collapsed in sections, and the creek bed is choked with room-sized boulders. The boulders disrupt the gentle flow of water downstream, forming big pools that are too deep to wade. So you either swim, or find a route through the chokestones. With four of us together, it was tiring but not pushing our abilities. There was more than one person to scout the best route, and you could always get help with your pack, lifting it up to the next level. Make no mistake about it. The floor of the canyon at Scotty's Hollow is several hundred feet higher (like 800 to 900 feet) than it was at it's mouth. There is no way to get that increase but to climb. Many times, you would crawl/climb up to the top of a boulder, thinking you were going to have to come down again, but you were just at the ground level at the top of your climb. About a quarter mile below the Hollow, the canyon eases a bit, and it is smooth sailing to a very disappointing campsite. It is tucked into the side of the canyon wall, on a little knoll, maybe 40 feet above the stream bed. There is clear water coming out of the Hollow, and nice places to bathe, but the site itself has room for five tents, as long as there are no occupants. But it would do for the night. If I were wanting to explore the Hollow, I would camp a mile or so upstream, and hike to here.
The four of us got to camp at 5:50 pm. Barbara and Will were 90 minutes behind us. She had been by herself most of the day, and she had a couple of things working against her. First, when there is just one of you, you have to do all your own route finding. That takes time. And because she has not been doing canyon hiking as long, she can't rely on as much experience. Secondly, remember that her left arm received that double guillotine break on the '96 Dolly Sods backpack, and she does not have the strength in her left arm that she might otherwise have. And on this trip, you really need all your arm strength. Because our compatriots were late getting into camp, we all stayed up a little later, seranaded by frogs. Dinner was Alpine-Air Chicken Primivera. It sucked. No flavor: just FD chicken in tomato soup with pasta and peas and corn.
© Roger A. Jenkins, 1998