Day Fifty-Three: Saying Goodbye to the Grand Canyon

Map Miles: Today: 29.1/ Total: 879.7

GPS Miles: Today: 30/ Total: 927.2

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A few more spittings from the sky last night justified having the tent up, but gee whiz was it hot. I ended up sleeping on top of my sleeping bag for most of the night without wearing some of my thermal layers.

Fortunately the heat didn’t stick around for the hike out. The temperatures were pleasant all day, and actually even a tad chilly towards this evening as I rose back onto the Plateau. A clear sign that I was heading far away from the amazing depths of the Grand Canyon. I initially thought that two weeks would be enough time to experience this place, but what a false impression that was. I don’t think two lifetimes would be enough to soak in all the beauty and history and geology and ecology and on and on in this incredible and unique true wonder of the world.

After leaving Showerbath Springs the creek flow dwindled substantially as it wound it’s way through beautiful high walls. The flow kept getting less and less until about a mile later the creek gave it’s last gasps in a series of algae filled tadpole pools.

The canyon walls were still high and the creek was still flowing first thing in the morning.

I was sad to see the water disappear but also ok with it because it meant I could walk directly in the creek bed without getting my feet wet. It was a mixture of hardpacked sand and gravel and smaller rocky patches. My ankles were screaming at me after the last few days of boulder hopping and scrambling and dropping down nearly 5000 feet.

As I traveled further upstream the walls slowly dropped and the canyon floor opened up. I even saw a live bighorn sheep! But it skittered away before I could get my camera out.

About seven or eight miles after pittering out amidst the algae, a few small pools suddenly began reappearing, tadpoles scattering out of sight as my shadow approached. And then it was back and flowing. Not deep, not strong, but water- and I even saw some fish up here too!

Small pools as the creek starts to reappear.

The flowing creek was great because it cut a 41 mile potential waterless stretch down to 28 or so. And again, I probably would not have stopped had it not been for Scoopy’s Spirit still speaking in my ear. I hope Marmot and Gabriel find you! But what was even better was what also unexpectedly appeared short after- trail cutting through the meanders. Flat trail. Hard trail. Dirt trail. Glorious trail!!

Trail through the pokey grass.

Not even the knee high grasses that kept sticking and jabbing their shoots in my socks and shoes could slow me down. My ankles and knees rejoiced to be done with the boulders and literally took off. I loved all of the flowering cactus that were out in full force.

Cactus blooms of all colors!

This peach color I’d never seen before!

The canyon walls kept receding and lowering and before I knew it I was at the junction with Hack Canyon.

Just past the confluence I passed an overhang and out of the corner of my eye caught sight of a bench. I checked it out and found a fantastic small overhung campsite complete with bench and fire ring and about 80 years worth of wall etchings ranging from the signings of Ben Hamblin over multiple years in the 30s and 40s to someone professing their love of the Grateful Dead in 2015. It made me curious- at what point in history do carvings and signings change from being ” cowboyglyphs” and historical to just ugly graffiti. I just hope there weren’t any Ancestral Puebloan carvings buried under the modern ones.

My favorite of the log- In 1955 these four got an 8 pt. Buck.

Hack Canyon was wide, grassy and long with well marked trail through the first many miles.

Trail through the wide meadows of Hack Canyon.

It was also filled with cattle- the first I’ve seen in a while!

Oh BLM land, how I’ve missed you.

About five miles up canyon a fence pointed to the end of the trail system and the beginning of the roads. I was surprised to learn that I had been in the BLM’s Kanab Creek Wilderness. Now I don’t have an issue with the cattle on non-Wilderness BLM land, but what’s the point in a special designation for an area if it’s going to be used for non-Wilderness purposes?

From here I was on a pretty standard road walk up and out of the canyon. Mostly flat til the end, with a little bit of uphill to officially leave the drainage and pop up onto the Arizona Strip. My feet were on complete robot mode by this point. Driving my body forward on autopilot, barely taking commands from my brain.

Some nifty rock formations topped the canyon walls as I road walked out.

I’m camped by an old corral near what appears to be a more frequented roadway. I stayed on the corral side of the fence and I’m glad for it as a huge herd of cattle showed up just before dusk on the other side.

Gathering clouds at sunset do not bode well for tomorrow.

Clouds are gathering in the sky and the weather forecast for tomorrow is calling for rain. Tomorrow is another day of total road walking though, so I’ll be ready for it. I’m going to try to push to town tomorrow night. I’ve run out of a few essential supplies recently that I need to refresh. Now to sleep, and hope that more cattle don’t show up on this side.

Corral camp

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