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Slickhorn Canyon 1997

Down the canyon

Everyone seemed to be up a little earlier than normal. Will was up cause he had left his expensive Patagonia jacket about 1.5 miles back up canyon at the base of the perfect kiva. So we did not see much of him this day. We started hiking down canyon with Barb M., and Dolph. It started showering on us just enough for us to put our rain covers on our packs - guess you have to use these for something. It was smooth sailing for a while in the canyon bottom. The water becomes spotty, but then just before what's called Trail canyon, or Access #6, a spring starts flowing in the canyon bottom, and the water never disappears. Several of the crew decided to go up into trail canyon, but our little band decided to go on.

Then, interestingly, the canyon bottom roughened up quite a bit. Room sized boulders that required negotiating, and some brush which required climbing around. This canyon is much different than the serpentine Grand Gulch just a few miles to the west. GG seems to be relatively mature canyon, with a pretty flat bottom, and lots and lots sandy benches, Slickhorn is pretty rough in spots. No really difficult places, just some time consuming negotiation. The canyon is not losing that much elevation at this point, but rather the canyon is narrow, the walls are steep, and a lot of room sized boulders have come off the walls, making for some interesting negotiation. The four of us decided not to spend any time in side canyons. The day was a little warm, and it was unclear, given the roughness of the canyon, how much energy we would have to expend to get to our intended destination. We stopped for lunch around noon, and then a nice dip at our next rest stop. OK, maybe I was the only one that took a dip. But the others should have. The only sensible thing to do to perk up your weary body.

We were convinced that we were making good progress, so no one was in a hurry. We got to the confluence of the main fork and a side canyon that I refer to as East Canyon (cause it runs in a pretty straight line from west to east) about 2:45 pm. Right above and below the confluence there was a lot of rock jumble. However, immediately downstream of the confluence, there was a couple of acres on the left side of the main stream that were campable. Grassy, a few junipers, and water. Actually I found a nice spring fed pool about a hundred yds up into East canyon. And there was an exceptional bathing spot about 200 meters below camp. One of the other assets of the campsite was no-see-ums. They seemed to be worse here than at any other site on the trip. The day was warm, and that brought them out. Susie and I looked a several potential spots for our tent (that always seems to be the major decision of the day), and picked one right down by the stream bed. Lance was camped on a rock slab in the stream bed, praying for no flash floods. I took a nice leisurely bath , and Susie got in the tent to get away from the bugs.

Various bits of the crew got in at various times. Will, naturally got in the latest. Barbara got nauseous, maybe from the heat, maybe from having to wait so long to eat. Will wanted to do some exploring as he came down the canyon, so he was several hours behind the first party.

We all gathered up on the grassiest, most shady spot for dinner (except the belated Will and the ever patient (and somewhat nauseated) Barbara). We all used various approaches to keeping the no-see-ums off. I used my thermal barrier approach, soaking my bandana in water, and defeating the bugs thermal sensors, sort of. Susie used the brute force approach of a bug net, but I saw no one else with one on. After dinner, which was a chore due to our flying friends, we all sat up on top of this big boulder next to our cook site to get up into the breeze and out of the bugs. I can't remember any of the conversation, but it was good as usual, and not too taxing. Just perfect for canyon country. The sky was a little cloudy, so there was no chance to see the comet.

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Roger A. Jenkins, 1997, 2006