Grand Canyon 1998
Up lower Kanab
What a delightful day. Easy, more or less, hiking, and got to our campsite at a decent hour. Our campsite is a beautiful grassy bench, immediately west of and across from the mouth of JumpUp canyon. This is probably the finest campsite I have ever had in cayon country. The grass is ungrazed, and because the canyon wall is directly to the south, parts of the site are shaded even in late afternoon. Andy measured the temperature to be 64 in the shade. We have been very lucky weather-wise. There are pockets of water in the streambed, and few signs of cows. The narrow slot of JumpUp yawns across from us, beckoning exploration. That will come tomorrow.
I left our modest site at the mouth of Scotty's Hollow at 9:12 am (yes, two days in a row), and headed upstream. Barbara was a couple hundred meters ahead of me, and I quickly caught up to her. We hiked together for most of the morning. The first obstacle we came to was up on a bench, less that a km upstream. We had taken the bench route, thinking it would be easier. I don't know if it was, but there were big boulders in the creek. We topped out on a bench, and came to a rock slide with boulders requiring that we take off our packs, hoist them up after scrambling up by jamming the slot crossways (feet on one rock, butt on the other). It was slow, but it worked. Before long, we came to famous Shower Bath Spring, named by John Wesley Powell on his second exploration trip of the Colorado, when he exited the Grand Canyon via Kanab Creek, fearing death at the hands of warring Indians if he continued on down the river. Shower Bath Spring is one of the more interesting springs I have ever seen. There is a lot of water running out of a seam in the rock, which overhangs the creek bed. All kinds of red Monkey Flowers grow all over the outcropping, and divert the water into hundreds of little paths, making the spring more like a shower. A hummingbird feasted on the nectar in the flowers. There is also a small but nice campsite right across from the ping. How come the trail guides never mention these? It was vastly better than the one at the mouth of the Hollow.
But first, we had to get through the pool to cross the stream bed. Barbara and I looked at the water depth, and decided the best move would be to wade on a ridge of sand to the left of the stream bed. The water was up above my crotch, and things got a little cool, but not too bad. We spent some time photographing the spring. The next incredible thing we saw, on a bench on the right side of the canyon, was the longest nice grassy bench I have ever seen in canyon country. It went 1/8 of a mile, and could have held 200 people. The grass was about 8 inches long, and green and lush. After some more walking, we came to another nice spring, Pencil Spring. A fine little jet of water flowing out a crack in the rock. I did not see the stream, but Barbara reported such.
About 20 minutes of hiking above Pencil Spring, the water stopped flowing in the streambed. The stoppage is very abrupt. Within about 100 meters, it goes from a good flow to nothing. Barbara filled her punctured water bag, and I put about a quart in mine and loaded both bottles from the last pool, afraid that we might have a semi-dry camp at the mouth of JumpUp. I seemed to have lost all my go-juice after lunch, and that I was moving in half-time steps. It was not the heat, for the canyon walls are still steep, and shaded me perhaps 50% of the time. The air was not as hot as it had been in the bottom near the Colorado River, and the canyon was lovely. My energy perked up, though, when I saw my first puddle on the canyon floor, a short half mile or above the point where it had stopped. It did not seem as though the water was moving in it, but it was clear after seeing 3 or 4 of these that there should not be a major problem with water for camp. The water was just moving down the creek bed under the surface. Of course, it was also clear that just a few days ago, there had been a lot more water flowing down this creek. (You could tell from the partially dried mud holes and the fact that the folks that I had run into in Surprise Valley had said that there was running water the length of lower Kanab Creek.)
I rounded a bend, and saw Sue walking on a grassy bench in the shade right across from the mouth of JumpUp Canyon, and I knew I was home. There was a good water pool about 150 meters downstream of the campsite, and a good bathing pond about 100 m downstream of that. So we were in good shape. It was a luxurious 2:50 pm MDT when I pulled into camp. We all lounged around in the shade. I set my tent up as close to the wall as practical, so it could stay shady as long as possible. Others just hung out. It was wonderful just to do nothing.
We wiled away the afternoon, had dinner at various times, and built a trash fire (outside the park boundary) to lighten our load even more. This was more like the typically canyon trip day, but everyone seemed so worn out from past days that no one took off exploring very far.
© Roger A. Jenkins, 1998