Often the most interesting stories of adventure are those that contain a little bit of misadventure. A tale of a true epic will really catch people’s attention. This post and the three that will proceed chronicling a four day backpacking and canyoneering journey through a remote section of the Grand Canyon is NOT one of those stories. Our team of five worked together like a well oiled machine, flawlessly tackling a wide array of challenges. I can’t think of a single mishap to report to add a little spice to the tale.
A week before the start it didn’t look like it was going to go so well. At one point the forecast said temperatures could reach triple digit highs in the bottom of the Grand Canyon. With 45- pound packs, tackling three thousand foot climbs, on rugged and uneven off trail terrain, exposed to the full fury of the desert sun, you could say we all had some serious concerns. The dozens of emails exchanged on a private thread would attest to this. Never-the-less, as we took the first steps away from our vehicles and into this massive expanse of wilderness we were filled with excitement and good spirits. Others who had been here before had said that some of the most magnificent side slots of the “Big Ditch” were in store for us. The forecast had improved somewhat. We were in shape. The utmost attention had been paid to packing efficiently. We had been well advised by those who knew this route better than anyone else. We were ready.
150-Mile Canyon, 3BVI
Grand Canyon National Park
Hiking the Grand Canyon is a lesson in geology. This geology is all about layers. Off trail hiking and canyoneering allows you to slowly descend through these layers en route to the Colorado River. The nature of canyoneering in particular forces you to become intimate with the rock; being surrounded by it, touching it, sliding on it, evaluating it and gazing at it. The more time you spend in these side canyons the more familiar you become with this geology.
The hike begins on the eastern terminus of the Tuckup Route which quickly takes us through the Kaibab Limestone, Toroweap formation and Coconino Sandstone to the canyon bottom of upper 150- Mile Canyon. Here is a link that shows and explains the layers of the Grand Canyon that can be used as a reference. It should also be noted that this canyon’s name comes from the distance in river miles to Lees Ferry, the starting point for rafters on their journey through the Grand Canyon. With so many side canyons cartographers did not get creative in the naming of all of them. Despite its clinical name, 150- Mile Canyon is anything but ordinary. After a few hours of wash walking through the Supai Formation we reach the Redwall Limestone where the canyon drops down into a narrow slot. Rapping in we are surrounded by beautifully polished white walls. Stained from the red Supai Sandstone above, much of the Redwall Limestone ranges in hue from light pink to amber to scarlet red. The sun filters through the bends of these narrow walls forcing the light to constantly shift in color and quality.
150-Mile Canyon is not just our route to the Colorado River but will also serve as our means to get out of the bottom of the Big Ditch. On the return trip some of the drops we will be able to bypass by hiking or climbing up shelves above the bottom of the slot, but others we will be forced to ascend rope. Instead of leaving a rope at each of these five drops, lighter parachute cord is left behind. We will then have the ability to fasten our heavier rope to the parachute cord which we will use to pull the rope in place so we can ascend the drops. Thanks to Todd Martin and Rich Rudow for sharing this technique..
150- Mile Canyon does not drop elevation quickly. Therefore it takes a long time get below the Redwall Limestone, thus the Redwall Limestone narrows are unusually long and sustained. Eventually we reach the Muav Limestone and its horizontal layering forming pronounced striations. Not as thick as the Redwall Limestone we quickly reach the Colorado River at Upset Rapid just as several rafters tackle the rapid rated at “8″ on the 1-10 Colorado River scale. We hoot and holler as they slam into the massive white waves.
The journey continues on the opposite side of the Colorado River where we will explore three more side canyons. First, we have to cross the mighty river. From Upset Rapid we beach walk, which really means clambering over boulders on sandy sloped terrain along the river to a point where we can cross the river in our pack rafts to a beach on the other side. This will in turn provide a break to a shelf above the river. From here a short, but strenuous walk along the off-camber shelf above a cliff that drops sheerly several hundred feet into the river, brings us to a break where we can climb down to a flat beach known as the “Matkat Hotel”. Aptly named, the beach serves as our camp for the night and staging area for the next day when we will head up the nearby side canyon of Matkatamiba.
Garden Creek Canyon, 4CIV
Grand Canyon National Park
It is a beautiful, crisp autumn day. The kind that is just perfect for hiking. We are only four of what could be close to a thousand people on the Bright Angel Trail, snaking down 4380 feet from Grand Canyon Village on top of the south rim to the Colorado River. Not far above the river and right off the trail, Garden Creek plunges into the Vishnu Schist layer, forming a magnificent technical canyon. “Garden Creek Canyon is a hidden gem located in close proximity to the most popular trail in the Grand Canyon National Park,” says Todd Martin, who included it in his guidebook, Grand Canyoneering. “It’s surprising that more people haven’t discovered it.”
As we munch on some snacks, throw on a few extra layers, pull up our harnesses and strap on our helmets before delving into this ‘hidden gem’ we are passed by maybe a dozen hikers on their way down to the river. For the next several hours our paths will deviate. The canyon begins with several fun down climbs. The flow is not overwhelming but enough to disrupt verbal communication which immediately adds an extra level of excitement. The big drops follow, including a two stage rappel down a sloping 400- foot waterfall into an open section before dropping into a narrow slot again. Several more rappels and spicy down climbs follow in the temperate water that never pools. The canyon ends the same way it started; right off the Bright Angel Trail, de-harnessing, snacking and hydrating as dozens of hikers pass by. Now all that is left is to join the parade for a seven mile plus, 4,000 foot plus climb back to the rim.
Cove Canyon, 3BVI
Grand Canyon National Park
10/15/11 – 10/16/11
Before we get started I have to make mention that this recent descent of Cove Canyon in a remote part of the Grand Canyon National Park would almost certainly not have occurred without the new guidebook, “Grand Canyoneering” by Todd Martin. The book takes a look at over 110 side canyons of the Colorado River between Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the majority of which are technical. To say that this book is merely impressive would be a gross understatement. The route descriptions, maps and other relevant information that gives the descents a geologic and technical context are thorough and detailed. The book is also chock full of beautifully printed, informative images. Perhaps even more impressive than the book itself, is the systematic exploration that Todd Martin, his primary partner, Rich Rudow and others involved, accomplished. It is highly probable that a considerable number of these canyon descents were the first time that human beings set foot on that ground.
Though not the deepest canyon in the world, the massive size and scope of the Grand is unparalleled. It is 15 miles at its widest point and 6,000 feet at its deepest. Just walking down from the rim to the river and back to the rim on a well groomed trail is a challenging physical test. Now imagine walking great distances from your car park over uneven and exposed terrain just to locate a side canyon. Once you have reached this canyon you must use a number of technical techniques and gear to reach the Colorado River. Once at the river you are challenged with task of traveling to a place where you have the ability to climb out from the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back to the rim. Armed with complete information from “Grand Canyoneering” or even nuggets of information as I have done on several previous descents of technical side canyons of the Grand Canyon are adventures that require an intense physical commitment and acceptance of suffering.
First descents or completely unbetaed descents are another ballgame, entirely. From a mental standpoint you are faced with the reality that you just don’t know what kinds of of obstacles, technical or otherwise you will face in the canyon. Because of that reality you must take the kitchen sink of technical gear to safely overcome those myriad of unknown obstacles. Todd and Rich were carrying often far more gear than they needed because they just didn’t know. They also probably didn’t know how long exactly a journey to the river and back would take. This means taking some semblance of camping gear and extra food. With the hog on the back, all of their efforts were completed at a frenetic and what some might call, obsessive pace. They spent over 150 days in the Grand Canyon in just 3 years. If you spend that much time in a place in such a short time then you are bound to experience some extreme temperatures, which the Grand can dish up even during the more temperate Spring and Fall seasons. Believe me when I say, having now descended Cove Canyon and a number of others from before the publication of this book, that spending that amount of time in this wilderness in this fashion is almost unimaginable, both physically and mentally. I would like to congratulate Todd and Rich for their discoveries and accomplishments. I think John Wesley Powell in the very least would be interested and might even be proud.
Now on to our descent of Cove Canyon. The adventure began from the remote Tuckup Trailhead nearly 60 miles from the nearest paved road, where the hike began with a pleasant trail traversing along the Esplanade, 3,000 feet above the Colorado River. The Esplanade is an enormous sandstone terrace below the rim that spans much of the length of the Grand Canyon. All too quickly the trail dissipated and we were faced with picking our way through uneven terrain around numerous side drainages and their many respective fingers until reaching the far upper reaches of Cove Canyon.
One can not hike and explore from the rim of the Grand Canyon to the river without getting a first hand lesson in geology. This is even more apparent when you are not traveling a wide, even and fast moving trail and you are forced to slow down and really experience the rock that surrounds you. Todd’s book goes into a straightforward, yet detailed explanation of the geology of the Grand Canyon. To paraphrase, approximately 5 million years ago the region of the Grand Canyon uplifted different horizontal layers of rock in the same even pattern in which they were laid down as sediment. The Colorado River then began to carve out the Grand Canyon with the assistance of the region continuing to uplift. The side canyons were created from violent weather eroding the side drainages revealing the different layers of rock. Venturing down Cove Canyon each of those unique geologic layers exposes themselves as we moved ever so closely to the roar of the river that opened up this geologic history in the first place.
Cove Canyon began in the Supai Sanndstone layer. We were faced with several rappels through the red rock that dates back to nearly 300 million years ago. With the chossy red sandstone behind us the canyon dropped into the Redwall Limestone forming a tight slot, giving us our first respite from the hot sun. Redwall Limestone and its cousin, the Muav Limestone are the rockstar layers when it comes to canyoneering in the Grand Canyon. Their properties form the tightest and most exciting slot sections of the canyons. The Redwall section of Cove Canyon did not disappoint. A magnificent triple drop rappel along a bend brought us to the heart of this section of narrows. A tense moment ensued when initially we had trouble pulling the rope. Through the use of changing angles, moving down canyon and using a jumar to assist in gaining purchase of the rope, we were able to bring that lifeline down. The canyon then opened up filled with large boulders requiring route finding to pick our way through them. With the hog on the back every teeter tottering misstep drained tremendous amounts of energy.
The canyon dropped into several beautiful sets of narrows in the Muav Limestone layer. At this point in the day we began paying closer attention to the time. Whether or not we were going to reach the river before dark began to seem less and less likely. With that we began pushing hard and taking less pictures as we negotiated more rappels through more layers of rock. As the shadows got darker and cooler in hue we could hear the faint sounds of the river. Those sounds got increasingly louder as a subtle draft of chilly air came up from down canyon. Less than half an hour before complete darkness we reached a small sandy beach along the Colorado to bed down for the night.
Shortly after first light we gathered our gear and inflated our packrafts. The small inflatable boats were our mode of transportation downriver to a point where we could hike out of the canyon and back to our vehicle. To say the float was merely exciting would be an understatement as we had to negotiate several major riffles in what basically amounts to a glorified pool toy. Between my 190 pounds of body weight and all of my gear I was more than exceeding the 225 pound limit of the boat that was probably intended to be used only on still water. Still water this was not and floating low in the water, the riffles would splash over and into my boat even though I was hitting them straight on. Several times I had to catch an eddy, get on shore and dump all of the water out of my boat. One of those eddies was so powerful that I had an extremely difficult time escaping its upstream flow and getting into the downstream current with my flimsy, lightweight plastic paddles.
The roar of Lava Falls, one of the biggest and most notorious rapids of the Colorado was the signal to get off the river where a primitive route up a scree slope through the bands of cliffs would allow us to reach the rim over 3,000 feet above. We docked a quarter mile upstream of the rapid, its roar loud and ever present. We could not see it aside from the occasional violent gush of white water flying well above the horizon line of the river. Before the suffer fest out of the bottom of the canyon, we decided to take a look at Lava Falls from a safe perch above the shoreline. Words do not describe the carnage.
The hike out was what we expected: hot, slow, tedious and exhausting. We each found our own pace, spreading out and battling the ascent. We reached the rim in good time before the final 4.5 mile road walk back to our car.
Canyoneering in the Grand is so much more than canyoneering. In fact it is small part of this place that is so big. Even with the assistance of “Grand Canyoneering” the majority of these descents are not for the faint of heart. I look forward to the many adventures I will experience with the knowledge of this book; those many adventures slowly over a long period of time. 150 days of exploration and adventure in just 3 years; not for me, not in this place.
Shinumo Wash, 3BVR
approximately 11 miles
Navajo Nation/ Grand Canyon National Park, tributary Marble Canyon
09/18/10 – 09/19/10
The moon had yet to rise as we headed west on a dusty Navajo dirt road in a maze of roads, some nothing more than two tire tread marks through the desert scrub. Well over an hour after leaving pavement and only because we had a GPS, we arrived at our trail head right at the edge of Shinumo Wash, a deep and wide side canyon of the mighty Grand. As we laid down for the night the moon rose giving us a better sense of the vast country that surrounded us.
We woke with the sun, the heat following just behind. As we organized the last of our gear we knew it would not be long for the heat to completely catch up. We headed down the old Bureau of Reclamation Trail from the 1950s used to transport gear and personnel for a proposed dam site down at the Colorado River. For a side canyon, Shinumo was wide, vast and deep. The trail zig zagged down the steep canyon walls in the blazing sun to the sandy bottom strewn with boulders.
After hours of slogging down the not particularly pleasant canyon bottom surrounded by massive sandstone walls we approached a new layer of rock. As the drainage entered into this limestone layer the canyon narrowed into a beautiful slot and the real fun began. A pattern of either clean fluted rappels or slides of giddy excitement down polished limestone chutes into deep pothole pools of temperate water was the modus operandi of descent for the technical section. In these conditions the potholes were full and easily escapable and each one laid in the bottom of its own individual room before the next drop would take you into an entirely new chamber. Direct sun did not penetrate into the canyon bottom and despite the warm air and relatively warm water I was left with a slight chill through my body as we continuously submerged into and exited pools. Despite the slight shiver we took our time enjoying the rappels, the slides and the enormous insects who made this place home. The silver chambers of the slot had a campfire glow of light reflected from the sandstone walls towering over a thousand feet above us. Another rappel brought us to yet another room and we noticed dozens of footprints in the dried mud. This is the famous “Silver Grotto” a popular side hike from the Colorado River that rafters come up to from the river during their several week long trips through the Grand Canyon. Above this room where we came from, the rafters are stopped dead in their tracks from the drop we had just rappelled down. By now the roar of the river was easily heard and before not too long we reached the banks of the Colorado.
This part of the Grand Canyon like most of it, does not allow an exit up the fortress walls nor does it allow dry passage along its banks. The solution was to use small inflatable boats that we carried in our packs to float down to a section of the canyon where escape was possible. After inflating our pack rafts we launched into the swift current. Riffles splashed water over the boat that placed me only inches above the undulating surface of the river and entirely too soon we reached our camp for the night along a magnificent beach. The sounds of the river was the perfect background noise to a relaxing and enjoyable night of camping.
Despite several hours of unpleasant approach hiking, the previous day was full of beauty, fun, excitement, exploration and relaxation and we had barely paid much of a price for admission. What was the catch? On the exit hike back to our vehicle we found out. A real suffer fest; 5- hours, 2500 feet of elevation gain in complete exposure to the sun with temperatures hovering around 100- degrees. Truth be told I like to suffer a little. I find it cleansing. So for that ride I’ll pay the ticket price every time.
South rim, Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon is a spectacular sight to behold. I have had a chance to visit the park on a number of occasions since living in Arizona. Each time I visit the canyon I have my breath taken away by its beauty and grandeur. I have always wanted to see the canyon covered in snow. This week I got my wish. I tagged along with David while he was working on a travel story for the Arizona Republic. We drove up Monday and while David was shooting I went for a walk along the Rim Trail. The weather was cold but pleasant and there was some snow on the canyon but it was not exactly how I had envisioned the grand snow covered canyon. The Grand Canyon got several inches overnight as we slept. Tuesday morning we woke to a picture perfect postcard better than I could have imagined. The powder white snow decorated the trees along the rim and wispy clouds hovered throughout the canyon. While David finished his travel assignment I walked around the south rim and took about a million pictures. Standing in one place the canyon would change before my eyes, as clouds would blow in and out, blue sky peaking through then abruptly disappearing.
James Canyon, 3BIII
Coconino National Forest
Air Force One, the enormous Boeing 747-200B jet that transports the President of the United States landed on the runway of the Grand Canyon National Park Airport. President Obama, the First Lady and their two daughters walked down the retractable stairway and into their Black SUV. From a riser 50 yards from where Air Force One came to a stop I took as many photographs as possible from the instant Air Force One came into view in the horizon to when the Presidential motorcade went out of view on it’s way to the Grand Canyon. After the motorcade was out of sight, a secret service agent and press liaison informed us that the President would be leaving the Grand Canyon to return to Phoenix several hours before the scheduled 4 pm departure. One reporter said he had heard Sasha Obama, 7, and Malia Obama, 10, were tired and just wanted to hang out by the pool at their hotel in Phoenix. I have no idea if this is in fact the reason, but I do know that none of the members of the press were going to complain.
By 2 pm Air Force One was gone, all of my photographs had been filed and sent back to the Arizona Republic photo desk. “Interesting, I have some time to myself,” I thought. “Maybe I can squeeze in a solo descent of James Canyon, which is just south of Flagstaff.” As I headed down to Flagstaff a giant plume of smoke rose vertically southwest of Flagstaff high into the air and turned horizontal in a northeasterly direction. The plume from the wildfire was visible as far north as the town of Valle. After communicating with another Arizona Republic photographer who was already covering the wildfire, I decided to continue with my plan to descend James. By 4pm I was hiking into the canyon.
This was my first solo descent of a technical canyon. Solo canyoneering can be dangerous. Many have heard the story of Aron Ralston’s daring tale of survival in Bluejohn Canyon after a boulder pinned down his arm.
Though somewhat risky I felt well within my range of comfort and safety; I had previously descended James Canyon, the rappels are straightforward, it has no difficult water or pothole obstacles, there are a number of places where escape from the canyon appears possible and my wife was aware of what I was doing. I do have to admit that the solitude and the eerie light from a combination of the late day and smoke from the wildfire many miles away, added a spicy intensity as I rigged my rope for the first rappel.
I flew through the canyon out of necessity and ability. I reached the confluence with Kelly Canyon and Pumphouse Wash in two hours. Opting to climb up to the rim from the confluence as opposed to ascending Kelly Canyon I returned to my vehicle in just over an hour. I had 20 minutes of light to spare.
The following morning I spoke with an employee of the Coconino National Forrest. The fire dubbed, “The Taylor Fire” originated near Turkey Butte in the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area on the east rim of Sycamore Canyon. My thoughts immediately turned to the many wonderful canyons that exist in this area. As I publish this blog post (08/22/09) the Taylor Fire is 90% contained but unfortunately has burned over 3500 acres.
R2R2R of the Grand Canyon
47 miles, 11,000 feet elevation gain
Grand Canyon National Park
It is not the world’s deepest canyon, but there are no others on this planet that match it’s sheer enormity. 47 miles, 10,500 feet elevation gain. In one day crossing this grand chasm from rim to rim, turning around and retracing your steps to begin where you started. It is the rim to rim-to-rim challenge or R2R2R, as many know it.
With the moon hidden behind the horizon I began descending the Bright Angel Trail at 4 am with almost no natural light. The spotlight of my LED headlamp illuminated the trail as I weaved around iced over puddles and a few patches of snow. Finding my jogging pace I could see my breath in the 20-degree weather as I made my way down the switchbacks. Light began to fill the sky around the same time that I could begin to hear the roar of the Colorado River. As day began to take over night I realized my first blunder was forgetting to apply or pack any sun block. Such a minor mistake could be both detrimental to the success of the challenge and to my safety on such an extreme physical adventure. Fortunately just before I reached the bridge spanning the Colorado River I ran into a German backpacker who gave me a healthy portion of sun block.
9.6 miles and 2.5 hours into my journey I took a quick break near Phantom Ranch and continued jogging up the North Kaibab trail. As the trail began to climb out of the bottom of the canyon my mostly jogging some walking combination began to pendulum.
After reaching the Roaring Springs Trail junction I broke out my iPod; which supplied much needed mental energy for the tough switchback climbing ahead. To the sounds of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Stadium Arcadium I found a powerful walking stride. The jogging had ended long ago but I found my rhythm and was making good time. I spotted a group of backpackers 3 or 4 switchbacks above me and played a mind game to catch them as quickly as possible. Blowing past them, I continued power walking under the Supai Tunnel through patches of snow until I reached the North Rim at 7 hours elapsed time. I took a quick break on the rim that was covered in deep snow and then began heading back down the canyon.
My plan was find a slow and steady jog all the way to the Colorado, but after about a mile I realized that was not going to happen. My legs and feet just didn’t feel like they had it in them so I resorted to walking. The further down I got the more my feet and lower legs became a bother. I took about ten minutes soaking my lower extremities in the icy cold waters of Bright Angel Creek, which was a tremendous help. Reaching Phantom Ranch at 12 hours elapsed time I was exhausted. My feet though not blistered felt like hamburger. My legs were weak and my stomach was beginning to ache. I knew the climb up the south rim was going to be the hardest physical thing I had ever done.
I felt like I was crawling even though I was walking. With constipation cramps from too many energy bars my stomach got worse. Before I reached the Indian Gardens Camp it got dark. The final three miles were excruciating. With no moon I was unable to monitor my progress as the canyon walls, the rim and the dark sky blended into a plain of blackness. Dust mixed with tiny particles of dried mule manure filled the air and coated my nasal passages and the back of my throat. I just kept on taking another step.
After 17 hours I reached the South Rim and my car in the parking lot. A short drive took me to my hotel room in Tusayan. When I placed my key card in the door a red light blinked before me. I tried several times to no avail. My room could not have been any further from the lobby in this large hotel. I remember the slow excruciating hobble to the lobby and back to my room as the hardest part of the journey. It would be another four days till my walking completely returned to normal.
I am not sure that I would call this challenge fun and I probably would only do it again with a partner, but it was without question the most testing physical exercise I have ever performed. It took Mother Nature six millions years to create a feature who’s size and scope can not be appreciated through words or images; how could crossing it and back in one day not be worth it!
NOTE: I did not bring a camera on this hike. The lead image of this post from a previous visit to the Grand Canyon.
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Havasupai Indian Reservation, tributary of the Grand Canyon
06/23/07 – 06/25/07, 06/07/08 – 06/09/08
When I think about Havasupai the first word that comes to mind is “magic”. There is nothing I could say about Havasupai that would do the place justice. From the beautiful 10- mile hike into the canyon to the unreal aqua colored water, Havasupai is truly a wonder.
About 450 native Havasu ‘Baaja people live in this remote location where the only form of transportation in and out of the canyon is by foot, horse or helicopter. The US Government created the reservation in 1882. Today the main source of income is tourism.
My first trip into the canyon was with David, Mike and Ira (a first time for us all) in 2007. After the long and dusty hike to the bottom of the canyon the first signs of water were a welcome sight. First we saw green trees, then a stream and a running irrigation ditch, then just past the Supai village there are swimming holes off to the left of the trail. David and I stopped at one of the swimming holes for lunch and a dip while we waited for Mike and Ira to catch up. Those small swimming holes were so pleasant that we talked about how if that was all there was it would have been enough. Little did we know the magnificence that awaited us around the corner. It is hard to describe the feeling I had the first time I saw Havasu Falls. I could not believe my eyes, a powerful 100ft aqua blue waterfall in the middle of the desert!
The one negative thing I can say about Havasupai are the crowds (do NOT get me started on the port-a-potty situation!) so to avoid as many people as possible we walked as far back into the canyon campground as we could and ended up camping just above Mooney Falls. We didn’t bother bringing tents; it was nice to sleep out under the stars.
The second day of our adventure we explored more of the canyon. Climbing down Mooney Falls through blasted out caves and a slippery trail was a freaky experience, I admit I was scared. Once down the 200ft Mooney Falls we headed down stream. Havasupai is like a giant water park with multiple rope swings and amazing travertine pools. We never made it to Beaver Falls. We thought we made it but found out later we had not gone far enough! That is how cool this place is. We turned around at an incredible spot we thought must be Beaver.
Our third day in Havasupai we tried to get an early start for the hike back to our car but got distracted at Navajo Falls where someone had set up a zip line across the large pool in front of the waterfall. It was so early in the morning we had the place to ourselves. Hiking out under the brutal summer sun (with Mike refusing to drink water as usual) we were already talking about our next trip back to Havasupai. Ira as it turned out could not wait another year and ended up going back to Havasupai again later that same summer.
Havasupai is one of those places I want to share with everyone so when my friend Christine said she wanted to come visit me from DC and it was going to be in June, I really didn’t give her much of a choice. I was just so excited to share the enchantment I had experienced. I couldn’t imagine anyone not seeing the magic I saw. So in June 2008, David, Mike, Ira, and myself, along with Christine, were on our way back to Havasupai. On this trip we spent more time exploring Navajo Falls with all its cool grottos on the backside of the waterfall. We also made it to the real Beaver Falls! We unexpectedly ran into our friend Erin as we were entering the campground and hung out with her one night (magic I know!). David, Mike and Ira hiked the entirety of the canyon to the Colorado River while Christine and I spent time relaxing below Mooney Falls catching up.
In August 2008 Havasupai experienced a major flood, if you haven’t seen it check out on the many You Tube videos of Havasu Falls violently running mud brown. The floods have supposedly changed much of the canyon a shame, but that is nature.
On a side note our good friends John and Kim (they are in many of our posts on this blog) met at in the campgrounds at Havasupai and were later married. I love that!
I love this canyon and I loved the day we descended this canyon even more. The day started with hot coffee, pancakes, eggs and bacon at the Lees Ferry Lodge where we stayed the night before. After checking out of our room we walked less than 20 minutes from our hotel along Highway 89A to the entrance of Badger Canyon. Before not too long soaring red sandstone walls rose above us. Several somewhat easy rappels added the right amount of excitement to a very carefree day. Muddy feet, down climbs and a picnic lunch at the Colorado River took us through mid-day. A strenuous but pleasant hike along the Colorado River and out of the far eastern end of the Grand Canyon took us through mid-afternoon. With GPS in hand we walked along the near featureless, but austere beauty of the rim right to the front door of the Lees Ferry Lodge where we were warmly greeted by the two hotel dogs.