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Grand Gulch 2001
Collins to Todie - Opus 2

Bullet to Todie

Friday, April 20   A very windy night. The wind had moved down into the main canyon, and managed to rattle the tent and our nerves a good bit. Never any danger of the tent blowing away (not with us in it, anyway) but it made for fitful sleeping. We were packed and rolling by 8:50 am. I reflected that our buddy Will would not have liked this trip: there was not a day that everyone was not out of camp by 9 am or so. That is just the time that Will likes to get up. However, with the solar radiation heating up the air trapped in the vegetation late in the day, and making for a toasty walk, getting an early start just seemed to be the thing to do. The water started showing up in the main stream bed, very intermittently, about a mile above the mouth of Coyote Canyon. We made pretty good time, even though the benches were sandy. Within 90 minutes, I could see a huge overhang up ahead, and commented to Susie that there HAD to be a ruin in the overhang. It turns out that it housed the famous Split Level Ruin. ( I wonder what the Anasazi would think of our names for their houses.) We caught up to Cora, Lance and Andy, who had just finished looking the place over. We noted that they were all wearing some sort of jacket, and in fact, it was quite cold under the deep overhang. Split Level is quite a place. Several large ruins. But what impresses me the most is the survivability of the corn cobs that have been left. These are organic matter that one would think would decay fairly quickly, but to see these tiny, shrivelled up corn cobs that you know to be nearly a thousand years old, you can not help but marvel at the preservative influence of protection from the rain and direct sunlight and low humidity. Barbara and Ray had announced that they both had missed Green Mask spring (what we had stopped yesterday) so they were going to hike back to see it before coming up canyon. We did not expect to see them for some time.

Susie and I hiked on for a bit, but decided to stop for lunch. We knew we were making good time, and there was no point in rushing things. Neither one of us were interested in taking off our windshirts, indicative of an apparent change in the weather. After lunch, it was not much of a hike to the mouth of Todie Canyon. I did not remember that with which I was confronted: a skeleton grove of huge cottonwoods. It seemed as though a fire had swept through the area since I had been here last. What I had expected to see and did not was George. We had planned to camp at the mouth of Todie, since there was supposed to be water there (which there was). However, since - how do I put this delicately - there had been a previous history on this trip of missed canyon mouths and turns, I thought like the thing to do was to drop my pack and take off up canyon. As I hiked along, the evidence of a fire was still strong, even when I got to my arbitrary turn around point, about 2/3 of a mile above Todie. Still no George, so I figured that if he was not up in Todie, he would eventually find his way back to the right spot. (When I got home, I read in Rod Adkison's Hiking Grand Staircase-Escalante & the Glen Canyon Region where in May of 96, someone in the mouth of Todie Canyon had tried to burn up some toilet paper under inappropriate conditions. The fire got out of control, and burned over a mile of cottonwoods upstream. A very sad sight. This is identical to what happened a few years before our visit to Deer Creek in the Grand Canyon . We usually burn our toilet paper, and think that it can be done safely. But it requires vigilance and common sense. And a realization that it CAN happen to you. For example, driving down Hole-in-the-Rock Road in what has become the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 92, Susie had to make an "emergency pit stop." As she was burning her TP, a gust of wind came up, and set an entire bush on fire. Fortunately, the bush was pretty isolated. We still joke about Susie's "biblical" encounter with the burning bush. But it could have been no joking matter.

By the time I got back to the mouth of Todie, Susie reported that some of the crew had found George and John, camped in a nice flat area, just above the second Todie spring. The campsite is at 592,638 E, 4149,640 N, and is really the last/first place to camp as you head up/down canyon. While it was short on shade, George was making the most of the cool weather and relaxing view of a number of ruins right across from camp. After Susie and I got our tent set up, and gorged ourselves on snacks (No point conserving at this point. Real food was less than 24 hours away!), we took off to explore the lower and more easily accessible group of ruins. Lots of pottery shards and scenic views. There must have been 10 - 15 structures in various states of disrepair. We ran into a party who was day hiking down from the head of Todie, and they reported that except for a couple of tough spots, it would not be too bad getting out. We frittered away most of the remainder of the afternoon, relaxing and listening to the wind, and being still. We did not get down to the spring until nearly 4:30 pm for our bath. We wanted to insure that we had a bathing spot that was in the sun, because it was still breezy, and Andy had reported that the temperature had appeared to max out at 57 degrees. Truly a delightful day. Ray and Barbara showed up about 5 pm, reporting that they had spent this short day visiting all the ruins they could see.

Dinner was our remaining get-into-camp-late-and-pour-the-boiling-water-in-the-bag freeze dried dinner. I had Mountain House Lasagna, and Susie had a paltry serving of some dried soup mix. Give me the lasagna any day. We all were dressed pretty warmly, because the evening was cool. Tonight was official portrait night, when everyone takes portraits of everyone else on the trip. A lot of film gets burned in a hurry. No one seemed to want to go to bed, so we all stayed up pretty late - for us - just savoring our last night in the canyon. It had been decided that John and Ray would run the shuttle. That caused me some concern because I felt like it was important for folks to go up Todie in at least pairs, due to what I had heard about the rugged nature of some parts of the scramble. Ray is noted for saying he will leave camp on the last morning at 6:45 am, but because he has a hard time sleeping, will often be outta there before 6. I did not want anyone trying to do the scrambling alone.

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Roger A. Jenkins, 2001