Jumpup Canyon!         

April 23-29, 1998 

Mike Coltrin, Don & Jensine Moxley, Burt and Wendy Beardsley, Lorna Glendening, Gary Ladd

23 April, Thursday:

Don & Jensine Moxley, Burt and Wendy Beardsley, Lorna Glendening and I met Gary Ladd at the Marble Canyon Lodge after driving up from Tucson.  We left the Lodge at 3:00 pm and drove AZ 89A over the Kaibab Plateau.  At the bottom of the hill we drove south on FS (Forest Service) 422A to FS 22.

A couple of miles past Big Springs we headed west down FS 447.  We ran into patches of snow right away.  After driving through a few snowfields without too much trouble we happened across two Indian men from Tuba City.  Their truck had slid off the road at the lower end of the snow and they asked if we could help them.  I had them get aboard and down we went.  Pretty soon I had my 4Runner stuck in the snow.  It took about an hour to get it out.  We dug snow, placed branches under the wheels, and had Burt hook a towrope from his pickup to mine.  It was quite a show.  Burt then allowed that since he had both 4WD and chains on each wheel he could probably make it through.  (The Indians assured us it was only a couple hundred yards farther to their truck.)  He only got a little farther than I had before becoming stuck himself.

Another hour was spent releasing Burt.  Meanwhile, Wendy had hiked about half mile down the road finding no Indian truck but lots more snow.  Once free, I told the Indians to go to their truck and we would come around by another road to assist them.  It took quite a bit of effort to get back to the top of the hill through the snow.  We went through snow patches one vehicle at a time, sometimes getting bogged down, sometimes not, but never getting as stuck as we had been lower down the hill.  It was almost another half hour to go the quarter mile back to FS 22.  Meanwhile the sun was getting lower in the sky.

We drove back north in FS 22 to FS 423 and headed back into the wilderness.  We met the Indians on the road.  Some other folks had extracted them.  Good news since it was now dark.  We drove on to Jumpup Point, arriving at 9:00 pm in a violent windstorm.  We went to bed without supper.  I tried to sleep in the 4Runner with little success.  The vehicle rocked in the wind all night long.  You'd think all those years on the railroad would have made me used to such motions.

24 April, Friday

We were up at 6:00 am.  It was still pretty windy.  The views from the rim were great.  The entire Jumpup / Indian Hollow Esplanade was at our feet.  Racetrack Knoll stood in it's red splendor, an inviting objective for a future trip as was Fishtail Mesa.  Kanab Point was also prominent in the distance.  After breakfast we drove around to Jumpup Cabin.  We started hiking at 9:45 am.  A big group from the NOLS organization was at Upper Jumpup Spring.  They said they were to be picked up at the trailhead the next morning.  We stopped for lunch just after noon a little below the Ranger / Sowats Trail Junction.  Shortly after passing Lower Jumpup Spring we came to 'The Jumpup' or, in our situation, 'The Jumpdown'.  It was quite impressive.  While the drop was only about seven or eight feet the ledge leading down to it was sort of a gut-check.  A makeshift ladder was leaning against the wall.  It appeared flimsy but it certainly did the job.  We used my rope to lower our packs and climbed down with no trouble.  We rested there a bit before continuing down the canyon.  Camp was at the confluence of Sowats and Jumpup Canyons.  We arrived at 3:45 pm.  We had a nice dinner and made plans for the next three days of hiking - and future backpack trips as well.

25 April, Saturday

Woke up at daybreak to a light rain.  It only lasted about half an hour.  We had breakfast then headed up Sowats Canyon.  Water flowed in the canyon all the way to Mountain Sheep Spring.  (Look for pictographs and petroglyphs on the south wall.)  Water reappeared just upstream from the Jumpup / Sowats Trail crossing.  We went up the southeast arm of Sowats past Bitter Spring.  (Look for pictographs and petroglyphs on the north wall at about 4100'.)  We came to a couple of pouroffs that were a bit difficult to get past.  At about 4200' is a 30 foot waterfall.  It was really neat!  The bypass was on the right (south) and was fairly easy.  We had lunch at the base of the fall.

Soon after lunch we were caught in a rain and hailstorm.  We found shelter under a small overhang.  After the weather cleared we started up the south fork (at 4429AT on the map).  This drainage had flashed in the short rainstorm.  We could see footprints we had left just a few minutes earlier now six to eight inches under water.  We worked our way westsouthwest to near point 4448T.  We dropped into this major drainage, crossed the Jumpup / Sowats Trail, and continued down this drainage toward Sowats Canyon.

The first quarter mile or so was very easy walking.  We were concerned that we should be dropping faster than we were and anticipated a headwall drop-off.  We weren't disappointed!  We came to a high alcove pouroff.  It was easy to bypass on the right (east) side.  On the bypass I managed to wake up a rattlesnake for Wendy to walk up on.  We got to the main canyon with no more trouble and were back in camp at 3:50 pm just as more rain came down.

It rained for an hour before letting up long enough for us to get dinner.  The rain returned at 7:00 pm.

26 April, Sunday

We hiked 3/4 mile down Jumpup to Kwagunt Hollow and started up the hollow.  After a couple of bends we came to an impressive waterfall.  This was about 1/4 mile from Jumpup.  We bypassed on the right side and above it was another fall, much nicer and higher than the first.  Once again we passed on the right.  Now came another, shorter, fall.  This one we passed on the left.

As we worked our way up the canyon we were impressed by the beauty of the place.  Pools and small falls came with regularity.  Water was running the entire length of Kwagunt.  About 1 1/2 miles from Jumpup, Kwagunt forked.  We took the right fork.  In another quarter mail was another fork.  We went right again and had lunch below 4465T.  There were three sets of petoglyphs and pictographs here.

After lunch we went south across the Esplanade to a major side canyon of Indian Hollow.  When we first hit the canyon it had already fallen about 300 feet so we moved east a couple of hundred yards to entered the canyon just north of 4367T.  This west-running canyon had water for its entire length.  We came across several short falls and picturesque grottos. The last fall was a good one.  It was about 200 yards upstream from Indian Hollow and was at least 100 feet high.

We started down Indian Hollow.  The redwall limestone was just coming to the surface.  The canyon bottom was dry.  After 200 yards we came to our first obstacle - a hotel-size rock (Well, bigger than a house anyway!) wedged in the very beginning of the redwall narrows.  We worked our way around to the right and dropped back to the canyon bottom about 100 yards below the hotel.  Another 200 yards brought us to a high pouroff and a plunge pool.  We tried bypassing on a ledge on the right side of the canyon.  After a tight spot on the ledge (mentioned by George Steck), we came to a bay that offered a way back to the canyon bottom.  There was a small redbud tree to tie a rope on but we didn't like the idea of body-rappelling in the limestone.  We tried walking the ledge another couple of hundred feet and came back to the bay.  We set up my rope but still weren't willing to make the move.

At this point I remembered Gary saying we might be able to follow the top of the redwall bench all the way to Kwagunt Hollow.  We decided to try that.  While retrieving the rope it became wedged on a log at the bottom of the pitch so we had to leave it behind.  We backtracked on the ledge to the hotel, climbed a short gully and started downcanyon on the redwall bench.  It did indeed work.  We were about 1/4 mile from Jumpup and another 1/2 mile to Kwagunt.  We were able to walk right off the bench to the canyon bottom.  We got back to camp at 5:45 pm, tired and happy.

27 April, Monday

We hiked down Jumpup to Kanab Creek today.  The water in Jumpup continued on the surface to about 1/4 mile below Kwagunt Hollow before going underground.  The streambed was dry the rest of the way to Kanab.  The entire length of Jumpup from Upper Jumpup Spring to Kanab Creek was strewn with gravel from the Kaibab, Toroweap and Coconino formations.  Keep your eyes open and you can't help but find shell fossils just about any place you care to look.  The redwall gorge narrows nicely for a half mile centered on the Indian Hollow confluence.  It averages about fifteen feet wide and the walls go up at least 200 feet.  Later the walls are higher but since the canyon bottom widens to 75-125 feet and isn't quite as dramatic.  (Here I go trying to rate relative beauty.)  The walking was easy, no obstacles whatsoever.

Kanab Creek was running and very muddy.  We had lunch there (The only part of this trip that we were officially in Grand Canyon National Park!) before starting back.  When we got to Indian Hollow we went up to recover the rope I had left behind yesterday.  The gorge was narrow but obstacle free the quarter mile or so to the pool and pouroff that blocked the canyon.  Having been well trained, my rope was where I had left it.  There was no problem bringing it down.  From below I could see where the walls could be climbed to ledges that bypassed the pool but I wasn't too anxious to try climbing them if I didn't have to.  We were back in camp at 3:45 pm.

28 April, Tuesday

We broke camp at 7:45 am and hiked up Jumpup, past 'The Jump' and on up the canyon.  We had lunch just short of Upper Jumpup Spring and arrived at the trailhead at about 12:30 pm.

Driving out of the wilderness we tried driving the shortcut from FS 22 up FS 462 and 461 but were stopped by snow about 2 miles below Jacob Lake and had to turn back.  (We did learn something on this trip about snow travel!)  An early dinner was enjoyed at Marble Canyon Lodge then we did a short rim-to-rim-to-rim hike.  On the drive south we checked a possible meeting place just off AZ 160 before stopping at Cameron Trading Post for dessert.  Lorna and I spent the night in Flagstaff.

29 April, Wednesday

Lorna and I drove out to view the Grand Falls of the Little Colorado River this morning.  It was something I'd never seen before.  The river was flowing and muddy.  It cascades for several hundred feet down many short drops before plunging down two higher more dramatic falls before continuing on its way.  Our timing was good since most of the year the river is dry in these parts.

Thus ends a very satisfying and successful Grand Canyon Adventure.

Mike Coltrin
05 May 1998


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