Grand Gulch 2001
Collins to Todie - Opus 2
Up canyon to Big Pour-off
Monday, April 16 We were up at 6:45 am, and rolling two hours later. The morning was cool, and there were plenty of shady spots along the canyon floor. Being a bit earlier than we usually do our canyon trip, the sun was also a tad lower. We stopped while Susie examined a small ruin, but the first big one of the day was Bannister Ruin, so called because of the large horizontal timbers in front of it. I don't think the Anasazi intended for them to act as railings, but they do look that way. The water was intermittant in the canyon bottom. You were never out of sight of it, but it was not continuously flowing. About 11:30, George, Susie and I got to the mouth of Deer Canyon, and since there were some wonderful big cottonwoods, and lots of grass, it seemed to be a great place to stop for a nice, extended lunch. I pulled out my Chair, and munched on pepperoni, jerky, and some of the "processed cheese food" everyone gives me a hard time about, until they taste it and decide it is pretty good. As more of our crew pulled up, they acknowledged our incredible ability to pick out a good lunch spot and joined us. We got some water out of the mouth of the side canyon, such that it was. (There was water flowing, but very little.) Just about that time, we heard some talk in the bushes, and a couple of guys popped out of the brush. They indicated that they were camped up in Deer Canyon - to stay out of the high traffic area - and were headed up canyon on a day hike. So there must be a pretty good campsite up Deer Canyon. It was so delightful just sitting in the shade chatting, knowing we did not have far to go today, as our goal was Big Pour Off Spring. A guy and his daughter moving down canyon with whom we had discussed the water situation yesterday, had indicated that the water ran out above Big Pour Off, and in fact, the pool there was nothing but a stagnant muddy pond. So I sorta felt that we did not need to be in a hurry to go sit by the stagnant pool.
But alas, camp wasn't getting any closer, so we hoisted, and headed on up canyon. George and John were ahead of us by a few minutes. About a third of a mile below Big Pour Off, we moved through a lovely rock layer, where the water had cut a circuitous path. Today, it was not more than a trickle. The two guys we had met near Deer Canyon were sunning themselves near here, like a couple of lizards on the rocks. I recall when I went through this spot on the last trip, the water was just pouring down through this. Just another example of the changing nature of the canyon. We got to the place where we were supposed to camp, and found George and John waiting in some bushes, looking for a bit of shade. What a difference an hour of so had made. The sun was now quite warm, to the point that shade seemed critical to our mental well being. And boy, there was not much to be had. Actually, the Big Pour Off area is a pretty interesting spot, in a bleak sort of way. There is a large rock shelf, over which, during times of flood, the water must just roar over. The area right below the pour off is littered with skeletons of trees and debris, some 10? 50? 100 years old? This place must literally be awesome during times of flash floods. The pool immediately below the pouroff pretty much looks like a bottomless pit. There was water running out of a seam in the rock, which, I guess, classifies as the "spring." There is an abandoned channel to the left of the pour off, and I climbed up and around, looking for some more pleasant spots to pitch tents than in the semi-shade of what seemed like burned over tamarisk. While there were a few trees shading a wealth of cacti, there was no water, so it seemed like the spot that John and George had picked would have to do. I did see a couple of ruins in the meander - right along the rock wall - and promised myself I would come back and take a better look. I recalled rushing by them in ‘82 in the interest of pressing on.
Susie and I picked out a spot that was flat and had a bit of shade to erect the tent, and then took off to look at the ruins. They were small but nice, and there was a lovely Claret Cup cactus blooming in front of one of them. We wandered all around the high bench, but saw nothing more of note, and so returned to the tamarisk. Actually, as the sun got lower, it was not a half bad spot. It had a nice central kitchen, and lots of flat, as long as you did not mind baking during mid-day. We headed back downstream to get cleaned up, and squandered another hour or so. Then it was back to camp, and sit around in the shade and the cool. Everyone gathered for dinner, and I noticed the wide disparity in the attire: As the evening cooled, I had thermal long johns on as tops, and my PolarTek pullover, with my Polartek hat on, and Patagonia fuzzy pile pants, and Andy was sitting out in shorts and a tee shirt. Boy, you could tell who the real wuss was in the crowd.
© Roger A. Jenkins, 2001