Map Miles: today: 7.9/ Total: 693.4
GPS Miles: Today: 7.9/ Total: 730
Today’s Miles Sponsored By: Dave
I am sleeping on a cot tonight. I’m surrounded by a group of sixteen of the most generous Colorado River boaters. It’s been a bit of a surreal day that I’m still trying to wrap my head around.
I was up and out of camp on the early side so that I could try to beat the heat on the way down to the creek. And it worked like a charm! I was able to spend the majority of the hike down to Nankoweep Creek in the shade.
The route spent a long time contouring around the cliff before reaching a nose (that would have also had Great camping last night) and starting its descent down. I was constantly looking back up, a little in awe of how far down I’d come- and how far I still needed to go
And then there was the the flora. An agave- the century plant – whose stalk grows at least 10 feet high. Some even more! It was an incredibly important plant to the local Native American tribes who used it for both food and weaving. The drop down went relatively quickly all things considered, though I was only able to do 5 miles in the same amount of time I did 8 yesterday. The trail wasn’t nearly as bad as it had been made out to be. For instance I thought the Sundance “Trail” was far sketchier.
Fields of blooming cactus met me down in the valley floor. And then I was in the sweet cooling shade of the cottonwoods along the banks of Nankoweap Creek. Relaxing and cooling down and refilling my water. I followed the on and off again trail down the creek for 2.5 miles boulder hoping much of the way and met Michelle and Kurt, two day hikers out from their boating group who were on a layover day down at the Nankoweap Campsite.
This is a really popular site with the boating groups because there is an Ancestral Puebloan granary that sits hundreds of feet above the river. I was excited to check it out so I turned off on the shortcut trail up to it, climbed the small hill and was immediately met by my first view of the Colorado River rushing a burbling and sparkling green in the midday sun.
Looking up I could also see the granaries- and the 10+ people who were up there visiting them! I climbed a bit of the way up to the turnoff where I met Star, a member of the boating group, who immediately offered me an apple- an offer that’s so hard to refuse. The midday heat was baking down. The hottest I’ve felt on trail, and I was glad to break again.
I sat with him and chatted about my hike and about the boat trip they’re on- a 21 day excursion through the canyon. As we chatted Star invited me to their camp if I wanted to “shop” for any more fresh fruit, or even to join them for their Cinco de Mayo festivities that afternoon. “Blackberry margheritas! You can’t turn that down!”
Most of the group down from the granaries now I thanked him for his hospitality and said It was really tempting and then headed up the steep cliffs to the granaries, which are so amazing!!Wedged in narrow cliffs, a commanding view high above the river. I looked down and tried to imagine what the landscape would have looked like hundreds of years ago when it would have been farmland below- corn and squash stretching down the beach.
I explored along the cliffs for a little bit longer looking at the different views down below before dropping back down, picking up my pack, and heading down to the river, where I met Star’s full camp all relaxing on their layover. Chris immediately offered me a beer (Caldera!) and that about made up my mind. Bushwhacking nine miles in the awful heat? Or sit and drink beer in the shade by the river. Not much of a choice. 🙂What an incredible group of people! A private trip mostly from the Mt. Shasta and Grant’s Pass area, they have been so gracious and filled with hospitality. They offered to not only have me stay the night but to take me down to the Little Colorado tomorrow so that i could make up the lost miles. Mind definitely made up.
The boating lifestyle is pretty incredible. Just how much their able to bring along and store is a little mind blowing. The huge kitchen, fresh fruit, frozen meat, Beer, ice, camp chairs, kites, cots, floating hammockcrafts, guitars, flutes,ukuleles, and so much more.
The sun continued beating down a dry oppressive heat and the wind was whipping sand through the camp, and so we all sat in the shade by the river where they brought out their mani/pedi kit (?!) and Emma and Silva, Chris’s daughters, gave most people in the group wonderfully colored and creative nail scenes. My pink nails now have some glitter sparkles on them.The the kites came out zipping around crazily in the high winds. The Cinco de Mayo festivities began with margaritas and then as I helped chop the veggies for the fish taco dinner, the “Dinnerware” started coming out. Costumes and wigs galore! They even had one for me!
The incredible dinner was followed by a musical jam session. All the classic folk song music night songs. I am still just stunned by the generosity of these amazing folks who were truly as excited to have me join them and hear about my journey as I was to be with them. I’ve talked a little about the loneliness on this trail, and afternoons like today go such a long way towards restoring the soul.
So here I am in a boat camp on a cot under the brighter than usual moonlit sky. Mars shining brightly down. Along the banks of the cold Colorado River and under the massive grey and red cliffs. I Couldn’t be happier.