November 17, 18, 19, 1995 Mike Mahanay
The weather was very dry and very warm, no snow was on the North Rim, although it was closed for the year. Just the opposite of 1994 when the North Kaibab was buried in snow for weeks already. The trailhead at Indian Hollow is in the Kaibab Forest and has several campsites. I started down the Thunder River Trail before sunrise. Not long after going through the coconino I left the trail heading west to Ghost Rock. The two Ghosts are prominent from quite a ways off but appear friendly and well disposed. I hastily set up a camp next door at the cowboy camp, then headed down Cranberry Canyon to Deer Creek to see the falls. To my surprise there were two nice potholes not five minutes from Ghost Rock! I was very happy that I would not have to lug water up from Cranberry Spring.
Cranberry Canyon descends gradually and is easy to follow. Cranberry Spring is located in the Supai and gives enough water to be able to dip my water bottle into the pool. From there I followed a faint trail across the top of the redwall south and then east to the gully where the descent route begins. It is easy to find with a cairn and the trail suddenly ending. The redwall is a steep series of tiny steps. I was very slow and cautious and was glad I was not lugging a pack. Next the route heads down a big talus slope then heads east directly for Deer Creek. Landing at the campsites, I was at the falls in four hours from Ghost Rock having my lunch and enjoying the wonderful view in perfect solitude.
For fun, I decided to head down the Colorado River to almost Fishtail Rapid and then climb up to the redwall gully. I saw that it should work from above and it did, although I got off course once and had to retreat. Luckily, I saw nine Bighorn Sheep at close range! Rejoining the main route I was back at Ghost Rock in time for sunset. After dinner I looked at Venus, Mars, and Jupiter all set within a few minutes of each other.
Sunday was the tough day. Again, a sunrise start and six liters of water, since I could not be sure of water until Indian Hollow Canyon. I had heard rumors of a pothole at the Fishtail Point Esplanade but I could not be sure. My plan was to circle the Fishtail Mesa. The day was cool so I made good time weaving in and out and up and down on the Esplanade. To my surprise I came across three potholes before Fishtail Point! With the dry fall I did not expect to find any water! I had lunch at the Point and what a view it was! East to Powell Plateau, south to Havasu Canyon and Mount Sinyala and west to Kanab Point and beyond! Awesome!! The west side of Fishtail Mesa went good although it was the heat of the day. I climbed Racetrack Knoll and arrived at Indian Hollow Canyon a few minutes before sunset. I camped on the Esplanade instead of in the canyon as the cold air seems to stay in the low areas and creep down off the rim. I even saw some frost in the bed of the canyon..
Monday, I set off early again to dayhike down Indian Hollow to Jumpup and back. I took water, lunch, and a rope in case the famous chockstone with the pool in front gave me any trouble. The pool was dry! But I still needed the rope to aid the climb back up. There were lots of pools and flowing water in the Supai but none below or above. Lots of Cottonwoods, some Maples, and even a few Redbuds still enjoying the fall. A really beautiful place. Above the Supai the Canyon curves around to the north as it gets closer to the rim. It is easy walking until the base of the coconino where there is a small dripping spring. Next, there are three climbs to the west of the main drainage. The first I did with my pack, the second I had to hoist my pack up and the third I had to use the rope to raise my pack. Frame packs would have a harder time. After the Coconino it was a fast walk for a couple hours back to the trailhead. I wished I had long pants walking through the sage and thistle and other thorny plants. A great time!!!