Grand Canyon 1998
Now this was a really luxurious day. Just a few hours of hiking, our original goal being the mouth of Kwagunt Hollow. I, unfortunately, was suffering from a touch of loose bowels. Like 3 trips to the john before leaving camp at 10 am. Thus, I was the last one out of camp. I quickly caught up to Will, and he and I hiked together a while. The bottom of JumpUp is easy going, but there are a lot of cobbles in the creek bed. You still have to watch where you step. JumpUp has great narrows, in some places it gets down to maybe 18 feet or so. The immediate walls don't go up very high, just a few hundred feet, but it is enough to make you realize that in a flash flood, there is no where to go. There a very few safe points. Even the canyons that come into JumpUp (with the exception of Indian Hollow) come in via a huge pour-off, usually 30 - 50 feet. No way you could scramble into them for a safe haven. But the narrowness is gorgeous, and worth seeing. There was a huge overhang that Will and I saw, where the creek undercuts the wall. It was impossible to capture with a 28 mm lens. 24 mm would be a minium.
A little before noon, I got to the mouth of Indian Hollow. According to Steck's book, it is only 15 minutes of hiking to the first "obstacle pool." Sure enough, there it was. There was no question about the correctness of our decision to go out Kwagunt Hollow. The first pool definitely requires a swim by one person, who also needs to climb up (presumably) behind a large boulder (we are assuming now, 'cause we could not see the actual route). This person swims with the rope, and then gets to walk the ledge back to the pack where packs can be hoisted up 25 or 30 feet. The rest of the folks just have to swim and climb. I am sure we could have handled this pool and chokestone, but who knows about the others. I got to thinking that maybe in future years, a required piece of hiking gear for each of us would be 2 sticks of dynamite and 50 feet of primer cord. Just to clear out some of these obstacles.
I left the mouth of Indian Hollow, and in about 15 minutes, started encountering small pools of water in the creek bed. Sure enough, by the time I got to Kuagunt Hollow, there was good running water in the canyon floor. Interestingly, the narrows abruptly end about 200 yds downstream of the mouth of Kwagunt Hollow. The canyon opens up considerably, and there are broad benches covered with cacti (beautiful blooms) and good running water. Amazing how quickly it (the water) stops and starts. Andy, Sue and Lance had left a note, indicating they were up Kwagunt Hollow, searching for a possible campsite. Barbara and I mosied around the confluence, looking for better places to set up tents. About 2:45 pm, the crew returned, and Sue was adamant that we start up Kwagunt right away, saying it was going to be slow and rough going. But they had found a pretty good campsite, albeit small, with nice water. More confirmation that Kelsey knows what he is talking about when he delineates flowing water. We (with the usual exception of Will) took off at 3pm like bats outta hell, trying to keep up with Sue. To bypass the first pour-off, one has to climb high to the right, and there is a tad of exposure. OK, for one step, there is a lot of exposure, if you take the low route. (There is an alternative route that goes even higher, but you have to come down even further to get to the campsite.) But we all did it, and in 39 minutes, we were at the site that Sue was afraid would have taken us 90 minutes to get to. (However, it should be noted it is always faster if you have just scouted the route. It would be more like 60 to 70 minutes for unscouted routefinding.)
The campsite itself was kinda neat, a small flat wedged between two 50 foot pour offs, with nice water, and lots of frogs to keep us serenaded. It was nice to get to camp at a decent hour. We all just relaxed, bathed, etc. Will showed up (high above the camp on the bypass trail), and announced that it was too early to quit hiking, and besides, he hated to get up early. So he decided to hike to where the water gave out, and afford himself the opportunity to sleep in the what would be our last morning. His do-it-his-way approach bothers Barbara sometimes, but I tried to explain to her that from Will's standpoint, he is being a team player, because he his willing to give up the company of the group for the evening, so he does not hold us up in the morning. Sorta convoluted logic, but it was the best I could do. Anyway, we all made preparations for a early morning departure, not having a good sense of how long would be required to get out. Andy and Sue had been given the car keys, being the fastest hikers over the type of territory we expected to cover. Their plan was to be on the trail by first light, somewhere around 6 am. The roar of the frogs was pretty intense, but it was not hard for me to sleep. Just wish I did not have to get up so early.
© Roger A. Jenkins, 1998