"Got my fingers crossed on a
Day 1 Saturday March 01 Trail Canyon and Parashant
Mike Quinn and I spent 4 long hours getting to the trailhead from St.
George Utah. It is only about 60 miles, but we were traveling over muddy
dirt roads covered in 4-12 inches of new snow. The high point on the
road was over 5,000’ and it continued to snow off and on all morning. We
prayed the roads wouldn’t get worse and our prayers were answered.
Mt. Trumbell, or Bundyville as it is now more commonly called is
little more than a crossroad at the end of Main Street Valley. In the
1920’s and 1930’s this was home to 1500 hardy folks attempting dryland
farming. John Green says that the settlement began in 1916 and
homesteaders were allotted 640 acres of land. It is amazing that the
homesteaders were able to hang on as long as they did, but all soon
moved on to St. George and other more hospitable areas. The Bundy’s were
one of these families. They still live in the Southern Utah area.
We stopped and visited the Bundyville Schoolhouse. The original
schoolhouse from the 1930’s was lovingly restored by volunteers and then
shortly afterwards vandals burned it down! Not ones to give up, the
volunteers came back again and rebuilt the schoolhouse from the ground
up! Inside is a beautiful hardwood floor, photos, and relics of the era.
There are a few houses near Bundyville but I don’t know if anyone lives
there full time.
From Bundyville we were making fresh new tracks in the snow. Mike and
I made many wrong turns and explored almost every road before we finally
found the right one to Trail Canyon. There are no signs at all, so all
navigation is done by either map or road log. I found the "Grand Canyon
Jeep Trails I" by Roger Mitchell and published by La Siesta Press to
still be the best. Very little has changed since this little book was
published in 1977. La Siesta Press also published Harvey’s Guides.
Mike Quinn and I finally arrived at the old miners cabin site just
past Mule Point Pond. Just beyond is an excellent viewpoint looking down
into Trail Canyon at about 5,500’. The road descends into the canyon
here and is 4-wheel drive only. Even though we had 4-wheel drive, we
thought it best to not descend since the road was covered in 6 inches of
||The end of the road, and the beginning of
very long walk. The top of Trail Canyon! I was very happy to have the
snow since I knew the potholes would be full of clean fresh water as I
It started to snow as I packed up my rucksack. I put on my Gortex
rain jacket and after a goodbye to Mike Quinn started walking down the
road into Trail Canyon. It was 12 noon. Bruce McIntyre estimated it
would be about 18 miles to the Colorado River. I was a little worried
about Mike Quinn’s return trip across the Arizona Strip back to St.
George in the snow and mud. The worst case would be that he would have
to stop and wait until it froze during the night before he could
Following the road I soon left the friendly pinon and juniper forest.
I descended through the Kaibab Limestone, Coconino Sandstone, and the
Hermit Shale 2,000’ and out of the snow. At three miles big Parashant
Canyon comes in from the right. The old road continues to follow the
bottom of the wash. At nine miles, the road leaves the wash and goes
through the Hermit Shale and continues another 10 miles to the old
Copper Mountain Mine. I could see Whitmore Point high above on the left.
Copper Mountain Mine is a popular ATV trip, but can also be reached
by jeep or mountain bike. From the mine there is easy access to Andrus
Canyon and Parashant Canyon. Prospectors first arrived in the area in
the late 1800’s but little paydirt has ever been found. The last I
heard, Exxon had rights to the mineral leases in this area and were
interested in uranium. I hope the recent protections of the last
administration can withstand the current attacks. I come across a few
mining relics, a rail, and pits of hose. There was a hose of wire across
the narrows at one point.
Back in the bottom of Parashant I began following cattle trails and
the bed of the wash as I continued to the Colorado River. I came across
three herds of cows, but saw almost no grass. Between the drought of
recent years and the over-grazing there is very little growing. I was
surprised the cows could find anything to eat. They looked healthy.
The Grand Canyon Trust is working hard to buy grazing rights in the
new National Monuments. Going through the last barbed wire gate into the
Grand Canyon National Park, I was surprised to see one stray cow on the
park side of the gate. Without my pony I could not herd him back where
he belonged. It is doubtful the cowboys will go very far into lower
Parashant looking for her.
Parashant is easily hiked and the going is fairly fast. There are
nice narrows in the Temple Butte Limestone. I found a couple of potholes
along the way, but normally this canyon is completely dry. Nearby
springs such as Frog Spring and Cedar Spring might not be reliable or
only be muddy seeps unless they are dug out.
I hiked until after dark and then made camp near a nice pothole in
the bed of lower Parashant. I had hoped to make it to the Colorado
River, but I knew I was close. I felt good with the first day. I had
told Mike Quinn that it usually takes a couple of days for the pack to
Day 2 Sunday March 02 Parashant Mile 198.5 to Granite Park Mile 209
An easy hike got me to the Colorado River at 9 am. I found it flowing
high and muddy from the recent storms. There is nice campsite on the
right side of the wash at the River. From here a route begins to climb
Mollies Nipple and gain access to the Shivwits Plateau. Looking upstream
I remembered one of my hardest days ever in the Grand Canyon coming down
from Whitmore at river mile 187.5 to Parashant at 198.5. That 11 miles
is some of the toughest hiking in the Grand Canyon! Route finding,
climbing, traversing, and impenetrable mesquite make it very
challenging. It is so tough, that most parties spend two hard days
completing that 11 miles.
The trail that beckoned me last year was finally under my feet as I
headed downstream and left friendly Parashant Canyon. Harvey says, "A
burro trail avoids the mesquite by generally following the base of the
river cliff. With some interruptions, this trail, probably built by
prospectors and most recently maintained by wild burros, goes along for
about forty river miles." I soon found out that this "trail" is mostly
gone now and not better than a deer trail at it’s best. The
interruptions were much longer than the trail. It required a lot of
concentration and focus to stay on it, and often I found myself above or
below the trail. Many other places it was simply washed out. As usual,
rounding washes it was always gone. On the flats it would come and go.
The trail is no longer maintained by the wild burros, only by an
occasional deer. I found huge greasewood, ocotillo, barrel cactus, and
other plants growing right in the middle of where the trail used to be.
Essentially, the "trail" is gone now.
|| Looking back upriver to Parashant on the second day. At first the route
tries to follow the River, but has to go up and over big lava bluffs.
Finally the Tonto starts to appear, and travel along the River
There are a few pictographs at Mile 201. I found a few bunde jars and
a mining pry bar while in the tamarisk between Mile 206 and Mile 207 on
what used to be a beach. They are not obvious in the middle of all the
||The famous bunde jars
and a pry bar! I was very lucky to stumble across them in the brush!
Who left them here?
The route generally stays away from the water and above the mesquite
and tamarisk jungle until Mile 210. Up and over two lava bluffs took me
to Spring Canyon 8 miles below Parashant. Spring Canyon was beautiful,
and brushy, but flowing with clean, cold, clear water. I had to go up to
pass Kolb Rapid at Mile 205 as the rapid is pushed right against the
cliff. Kolb Rapid is a challenge to run at any river level. It would be
fun to see the river parties go through. Harvey Butchart found a route
up 205 Mile Canyon from the Rapid to the Esplanade.
One mile before 209 Canyon the route went up again. I was able to
descend easily off the nose into Mile 209 Canyon, opposite Granite Park
to camp above the rapid. A beautiful place, Granite Park is wide open
with lots of sky and stars visable. I found an old worn out horseshoe
lying in the sand. Jorgen Visbak and two friends have come down 209 Mile
Canyon from the Plateau above to the Colorado River.
Day 3 Monday March 03 Granite Park Mile 209 to Mile 221
Leaving 209 Mile Canyon, it wasn’t long until what is called the
"Tonto" appears. This is not really the same Tonto platform as in the
heart of the canyon, but it is also Tapeats Sandstone. It was a relief
to be on the Tonto, and away from the horrible brush. It was fast going
compared to the brush. At the river, the Lower Granite Gorge begins, and
makes travel along the river impossible. The Tonto rises to 1800’ above
the river. Mile 217 Rapid was big. I could hear the roar of the water
from a long ways off.
Trail Canyon works all the way to the Shivwits Plateau above. A great
trip would be from Kelly Tanks on the Shivwits Plateau, down to the
Colorado River. There are many sights in the area to visit. Stanley
Spring is a fine pool in the Redwall. An old trail, the Snyder Mine
Trail goes from the Spring to the Snyder Mine. The prospectors were
digging a shaft looking for copper ore. There is evidence that they
worked the area for a while.
Jorgen Visbak describes the possibilities, "Going from Trail Canyon
(Mile 219) to the Snyder Mine requires a steep rock climb to circumvent
a 200 ft "dry" water fall. This climb starts just West of the "T" in
Trail on the 7.5 Minute Diamond Peak Quadrangle. I did this on a trip
with Harvey who unsuccessfully tried another route. The old trail used
to access the river from Snyder Mine descends, I believe, through 214
Mile Canyon. I haven’t tried this one."
Canyons such as Trail Canyon, 220 Mile Canyon, 225.5 Canyon became
real challenges for me to get around. Although not technically
difficult, sometimes I would spend two hours going around them only to
find myself only half a river mile farther on. Jorgen tells me, "Harvey
and I did not have problems crossing these canyons – we followed the
river or used burro trails on the Tonto."
Many of the canyons would provide access to the river, but with the
recent storms I had convenient potholes of water, as I needed them. I
could not imagine having to journey down to the Colorado River every
time I needed water! From Parashant, all the way to Diamond Peak I was
traveling south and walking directly into the sun.
It was fun to see Diamond Peak appear ahead of me. What a great view!
The route to its summit is a challenging dayhike from Diamond Creek.
There was snow visable on the Rim beyond Diamond Creek. I camped in a
wash at Mile 221 looking toward Diamond Peak.
||Diamond Peak, a big Barrel Cactus, and
Mike from the west! A beautiful day. There is snow on the Canyon Rim
Day 4 Tuesday March 04 Mile 221 to Mile 233
More of the same on the Tonto. It was fun to look down at Diamond
Creek and see the Hualapai boats lined up waiting for some customers. I
remembered stopping there for lunch on our river trip in 1990, and going
there with Charlie Bongo and Doerte to explore downstream. Most of the
river parties take out at Diamond Creek now to avoid the slow water
going into Lake Mead. With Pierce Ferry closed they would otherwise have
to go all the way to South Cove, 20 miles farther on.
Most of the rapids below Diamond Creek were washed out at the high
water from the recent storms. They were barely ripples as I passed them.
231 Mile Rapid, 232 Mile Rapid, 234 Mile Rapid, Bridge Canyon Rapid,
Gneiss Canyon Rapid, 237 Mile Rapid are all more difficult at low water,
and decrease in difficulty as the water level increases. On our river
trip in 1990, with low water they were all short, but very exciting.
232 Mile Rapid is the scene of an amazing story. On July 02, 1966
Jorgen Visbak, Homer Morgan, and Paul Morgan lost power in their 17’
Fiberglass Boat, powered by a Volvo engine. They had been on trip
upstream from Temple Bar to (a few miles below) Diamond Creek. On the
return trip the boat hit a submerged rock at Mile 232 and immediately
started sinking. They were all swimming, Homer hung on to the boat and
soon drifted out of sight while Paul and Jorgen went ashore. After a
short rest they proceeded downstream walking and swimming (Paul had no
shoes on) and spent the night on a sandy beach. The next day they
continued downstream – mostly walking (Paul panicked in the water),
until the spotted Homer and the boat which had gotten stranded on the
rocks at Nice Rapid. Homer had written a distress message and sent it
down the river inside an ice chest. After eating three apples which was
all the food left over, they salvaged three air mattresses from the boat
and floated downstream headed for Separation Canyon where some food was
cashed and from where they could probably get a ride out with a boat
They floated all the way to just below 237 (I think it was 238)Mile
Rapid where they were spotted by a search plane. The pilot said over the
loud speaker that a boat would pick them up the following day, so they
stayed put resisting the temptation to go after the food at Separation.
The next day, on the 4th they were picked up by the Park
Service Rangers in jetboats. They had gone 46 hours without eating,
except for three apples!
Other days saw Jorgen, Harvey, and Homer floating the Colorado River
below Diamond Creek on their air mattresses. To this day no one has
begun to explore the Western Grand Canyon to the extent of Harvey and
I had a blister on the side of my right foot and on the big toe of my
left foot from traversing the steep slopes. Sometimes I was following a
Desert Bighorn Trail no wider than a couple of inches! One slip would of
launched me off a cliff.
There was a cold wind and clouds for most of the afternoon. Near
River Mile 233 I found a handy pothole and a wash out of the wind which
made a nice camp. Down the wash below the Tonto was a nice overhang, but
I stayed near the pothole. In the middle of the night I was awakened by
cold raindrops. I put my gortex jacket over my head but eventually moved
my sleeping bag into the handy overhang for the night. Charlie Bongo
taught me years ago to always keep an eye out for overhangs for shelter
and potholes of water.
Day 5 Wednesday March 05, Mile 233 to Separation Canyon Mile 239.5
Wednesday began as a beautiful dramatic morning. The rain ended and
the clouds hovered around the rims, mixing with the sunrise. I started
early, and enjoyed traveling in the cool weather. After Mile 236 the
route flattened out and was easier. My blisters bothered me a little but
I still made good time to the Bridge Canyon Damsite. There is not much
left except a metal cable anchored to a small boulder. The other end
disappeared far below the rim of the Tonto. It did not look safe and was
not backed up. I guess it was considered safe at the time! Jorgen says
that there was a cable car across the River at one time. There were a
few boards and debris down below. There was also evidence of trail
Jorgen Visbak says, "I thought the cable was removed many years ago.
At one time when Homer Morgan, Bill Mooz and I were floating by Bridge
Canyon "City", Homer rode the cable car out to the middle. I don’t
remember if he rode all the way across or came back the same way he went
out. As the cable was sagging a lot we were worried that he might not
have the strength to pull the car back up to the anchor."
||At the Bridge Canyon Damsite looking
upriver at the 230 Mile rapids, washed out by the high muddy water.
Mile 237 is where the Kolb Brothers found the empty Sweep Boat of
Glen and Bessie Hyde in 1928. Known as the Honeymoon Couple, they
disappeared below Diamond Creek. They did not take life jackets,
believing they could swim their way out of any rapid. Their bodies were
never recovered. Speculation as to what happened continues to this day.
The Tonto was fairly flat as it continued on to Separation Canyon. I
had to go up Canyon about half a mile to find a place to descend to the
bottom. It looked like I would have to go even farther up canyon to
reach the Tonto on the other side.
||On the Tonto looking up Separation
Canyon! I had to go half a mile up Canyon to find a route down to the
There was good water flowing in Separation, but it would come and go
in the gravel. The tamarisks are only just starting to get a hold so it
was pretty easy to follow the wash to the Colorado River. There was less
sand and beach than I remembered. Washed away in the flood? It was only
3 pm, so I decided to take the rest of the day off, although I needed to
continue to stay on schedule. I looked for a route up from the river to
the Tonto, but it didn’t go. I was surprised that I didn't see any boats
on the river.
The 3 men from the Powell Party were able to climb out the east fork
of Separation in August 1869. There is a plaque in their honor at above
the Colorado River at the mouth of Separation. The last group I have
heard of doing a route into Separation included Mike Coltrin, John
Green, Jim Olhman, Bob Packard, and others.
Homer, Bill and Jorgen walked out the Separation Canyon when they did
a loop trip going down 209 Mile Canyon from Kelly Tank, swimming on air
mattresses to Separation and then after leaving the heavy gear, walking
out via the East Fork to the car at Kelly Tank.
Harvey Butchart found an amazing route up the Redwall and to the top
of the Shivwits Plateau across the river from Diamond Peak. First he
crossed the Colorado River on his air mattress. About one half a mile
northeast of Diamond Creek, Harvey climbed up a ravine to the west of a
big promontory. Near the top of the Redwall he found a smoke stained
cave and a large window. He trekked across the Esplanade to camp at
Kelly Tanks. The next day he descended Separation to the River, where he
camped with the Dock Marston River Party. The next day, after being
ferried across the river, he walked the Tonto past Bridge Canyon back to
Diamond Creek! All in three days! Anyone up for that one? (Page 219
It was fun to spend the evening thinking of the Powell party, and the
other trips that all had stopped at this magical place. All of the
rapids are all long gone, but the water still moves fairly fast.
Day 6 Thursday March 06 Separation Canyon Mile 239.5 to Surprise
Canyon Mile 248.5
Feeling rested and relaxed after my afternoon off at the Colorado
River, I left at first light up the bed of Separation. I walked almost
to where the bed touches the Tonto before I could climb back up to the
Tonto. The going was more of the same. Some stretches were flat and made
for fast going. The ins and outs tended to add a lot of mileage and
effort. Most of the time I would go down and up rather than around.
There were many loose and unstable rocks. I would step on the edge on
the Tapeats Sandstone and it would break off. A big boulder that I used
for a handhold on descent would start to move! I didn’t trust any step
Across from Spencer Canyon I heard some wild burros, and was able to
spot 2 of them walking on the Tonto across from me. In 1980 and 1981
Cleveland Amory organized a round up of the wild burros after the Park
Service management plan called for shooting them! Folks across the
country adopted over 580 wild burros. Wouldn’t it be neat to know a
descendent of those Grand Canyon burros?
Spencer and all of the side Canyons along the lower Colorado River
were choked with brush from the river to the high water line. There was
seldom any path through the brush. I did not get the impression that the
river parties ever camp below Separation very often.
I was able to descend Surprise a half mile from the river. There was
a nice flow of good water. I worked my way though the brush to the
river, hoping to camp at the river camp. Unfortunately, I found both the
river camps overrun by the brush. It was nice to be at the river, but no
where to camp other than the wet mud bank. A little up the canyon was a
fine overhang, and it looked like the mountain lions thought the same
from the large amount of scat there. This was the first cougar sign I
||Mike after a cowboy bath in the Colorado
River! Afternoon at Surprise Canyon after along day from Separation.
This was the only spot that was not brushy.
I walked up Canyon about two miles to where I could get out of the
Canyon, and set up camp for the night in the bed of Surprise. Surprise
connects with Twin Springs Canyon above the Tapeats and goes fairly
easily. Jorgen Visbak and Harvey Butchart explored this area at length.
Day 07 Friday March 07 Surprise Canyon Mile 248.5 to Mile 262
As soon as I could see without the headlamp I started up to the
Tonto. The days were getting hotter and I was glad to have the sun at my
back. The Tapeats was slowly descending back into the Colorado River. I
crossed Salt Creek near the bottom, but misread the route up, and had to
descend back to the bed in the brush, and go upstream more than a mile
until I could get back up to the Tonto.
Burnt Spring Canyon, River Mile 259.5, had an easy route off the
Tonto to the mouth of the Canyon. It looked like the river parties
stopped here often to visit the remains of the old cabin. Who was it
that built a cabin in such a lonely place? There is a stove and chimney,
and some sheet metal, but little else remaining. The cool, muddy river
water was refreshing and tasted good to my dry throat. Once again the
brush crossing across the Canyon was the hardest part. From above, I
picked my route across the bed though the brush, and hoped I could climb
up the other side. Covered in pollen and leaves, I climbed back up on
the Tonto. Harvey says that "Burnt Spring Canyon offers an easy route
from the River to the top of the Shivwits Plateau."
Tom Martin had told me that it was "easy going" from Mile 259 to Mile
263. The Tonto is almost gone now, and the washes are very easy to go
around. Finally I was traveling nearly the same mileage as the river. I
started seeing the commercial helicopters flying out from Las Vegas. The
Hualapai provide them with places to land on the South side of the
River. It was extremely noisy. From here to the Grand Wash Cliffs there
was hardly a moment with out aircraft noise. I made camp at a wash with
a pothole for the night.
Day 08 Saturday March 08 Mile 262 to Mile 278
This was the day I was supposed to meet Joe Motter at Noon at Snap
Canyon. I was late, and there was little I could do about it except to
keep moving as fast as possible. I started early, crossed Tincanebits
Canyon and Dry Canyon at their mouth, now traveling along the mud bank
of the river below the brush. Tincanebits Canyon offers a route from the
river to the rim. Harvey said he could not find a route up Dry Canyon.
I passed the Bat Cave along the River. We had camped here in 1990 on
a big dry mud bank. Now the mud bank was overgrown with tamarisk and
brush. I dared not venture up to the Bat Cave! There are big tram towers
visable on the South Side. In 1958 and 1959 U.S. Guano recovered the bat
guano. They used the tramway to transport it to the Rim on the South
side. Now, somewhere up there on the Rim is the Hualapai Indian
Reservation’s "West Rim". The had a casino for a few years, but now only
have a small campground, giftshop, and café for the tourists.
||That green is not a grassy field but a
jungle on top of a cracked mudbank. Past the Bat Cave I was forced to go
up above the tamarisk and found this 3' cairn. It was faster going up
I didn't like being away from the water. Crossing the tamarisk jungle
was absolutely horrible!
I followed the tracks of one mountain lion for a mile and then the
tracks of many mountain lions! I never saw or heard them. I have never
seen so many lion tracks! I saw many beaver lodges dug out of the mud
bank. As the Lake Mead water level dropped they had to relocate their
lodges closer to the water. Occasionally, they would slap their tail at
the water as they swam by to voice their approval of me being on my way.
I saw a Great Blue Heron.
I followed the mud flat along the river as best I could, but once in
a while would have to climb the bank to avoid a washed out section, and
fight the brush. Joe Motter calls this section a "tamarisk choked
mudflat from hell!" Sometimes I had to walk backwards and fall through
the brush to make any progress. When the lake receded it left great
cracks in the bed. Some were 2-3 feet deep and 1 foot wide. I would take
a step and the dirt would collapse sending me into the crack up to my
waist. I lost count of how many times this happened.
There was a couple of travertine buffs to cross high. I would pick a
route up the mudbank and through the brush. The going was extremely slow
prints. Lots of them along the River in the mud. I didn't see or
hear a Cougar on this trip. Did they see or hear me?
Many beautiful springs appeared, but tasted of minerals, and made the
area around them extremely muddy. Both my boots were soaked and weighed
5 pounds each with all the mud on them. Joe Motter had been about 10
miles up the river to these springs so I knew the end of the Grand
Canyon was very near.
Eventually I had to cross the brush again and travel high. I was
almost unaware that I had left the Grand Canyon and reached the Grand
Wash Cliffs! It was strange to see a view more typical of Nevada than of
the Grand Canyon. I had finally completed a 20 year journey from Lees
Ferry to the Grand Wash Cliffs! John Azar had recently completed the 278
river miles in 85 days! George Steck, along with his brother Alan,
Robert Benson, and others completed the journey in 1982. How many others
have gone all the way from Lees Ferry to the Grand Wash Cliffs?
I headed to the highest visable point, just south of Pierce Canyon to
see if I could get an idea of where Joe Motter would be. I watched the
sunset, but could not see the road from my vantage point. I guessed I
was about 2 miles from where we were supposed to meet. I camped on the
high point about 1,800’. I saw some ATV’s head away to the northwest,
and a single vehicle’s taillights far in the distance. I could not make
out the road, but could see the taillights fade away in the distance in
the darkening light. I was sure I had missed Joe Motter!
Day 09/10 Sunday/Monday Colorado River Mile 278
Sure that I had missed Joe, I headed down to the river near Pierce
Wash to wait for a boat to come along. None came all day Sunday. It was
hot and the river dropped about 3 feet during the day. It was 60 miles
of rugged dirt road with unknown water sources to Mesquite Nevada, so my
best option was to stay by the river and wait for a boat to come down
the river, the researchers coming up from South Cove, an adventurous
pleasure boater, or Park Service to come along on a patrol. I knew my
wife would report me overdue on Sunday evening.
||My camp at River Mile 278,
just outside the Grand Wash Cliffs looking back to the Grand Canyon!
I spent a comfortable two days at this spot reflecting on my journey
down the Canyon.
Monday morning I spread my stuff out so it would be easily visable. I
had talked to River Ranger Chris Mingle and he had suggested to stay
near the river if I ran into any problems. I spread out my bivy and
sleeping bag, and hung my gortex jacket and fleece jacket in a dead
willow tree for shade. Around 8:30 am I saw a red and white plane fly up
Snap Canyon twice, and then head up the river to the Grand Canyon. He
flew quite low, and I waved my blue shirt but he did not see me. If he
had, he would of flown over a second time and tipped his wings.
I settled down to relax and wait. I practiced my signal mirror on the
tour planes and helicopters with no success. Finally, a little after 2
pm, the Park Service Helicopter flew out of the Grand Canyon low above
the Colorado River. I waved and they saw me immediately, circled
overhead looking for a place to land. The country is very rugged, and
there was no place for them to set the chopper down. I quickly packed up
my stuff as I didn’t want to be any more trouble. As they hovered above
the river, the Park Service Patrol Boat appeared as well.
"Are you Mike?"
"Yes, Can I get a lift from you?"
The helicopter flew off, and we ran the low water of the river to
South Cove, and then to Temple Butte Marina where they deposited me.
Pierce Ferry is completely closed and nothing more than a huge field of
tamarisks. The Lake level is down to 1154’ and still dropping. Normal is
1170’ to 1210’. Full pool is 1221’.
I really felt stupid when I learned that Joe Motter had waited for me
all day Saturday and Sunday and I was at the river. If I would of gone
the two more miles cross-country I would have met him as planned,
although late. In retrospect, I should of made a trip out to Snap Canyon
to see the end of the hike in advance.
I had an aggressive hike and actually came very close to staying on
schedule. I was surprised that there was no one at all on the river for
the ten days. I had been confident that I would see a boat party of some
sort below Separation and get a ride from them.
A Satellite phone would have been a useful tool. I had ordered one,
and scheduled it to arrive two days before I was due to leave Seattle.
It did not arrive, and when I called they still had it sitting in their
shipping area! It did not arrive in time. Next time I would allow a week
to be sure it arrives.
I spent months planning the best trip possible, and then made the
best of it. I was hiking on faith. I was blessed with all the full
potholes of water I needed and relatively cool temperatures.. My pack
weighed 21 lbs excluding food and water. I never carried more than 2
liters of water at a time.
I had almost no information about this area. Bruce McIntyre, Tom
Martin, Bob Marley, Jorgen Visbak were able to help a little. Mike Quinn
was a great help, driving over 200 miles each way in winter weather just
to shuttle me to the Parashant Trailhead! Joe Motter is the expert on
the Sanup Plateau and knows the western end of the Canyon. Joe said that
the lower Canyon was a "tamarisk choked mudflat from hell!" I have never
heard truer words. I could not have done this trip without his help. He
did not want to leave Snap Canyon without me, and left water and a note.
He drove over 200 miles round trip to do a shuttle for someone he had
A few folks that I know, including one with NPS that had been in
parts of the area were unwilling to communicate any information with me.
I consider this irresponsible behavior. Keeping route information a
secret does not deter most folks, and in fact puts them in danger.
Harvey was always happy to provide route information to anyone who
asked, and we should all heed his example. I hope in the future, if
anyone is interested in this area, the Park Service encourages them to
contact me directly so I can give them a true assessment of what this
extremely remote, rugged area is like and what they can expect. It is
not a place for the unexperienced. It is not a place for the unprepared.
It is not a place to go in the warmer drier months. A National Park
Service Permit is required.
The Park Service Search and Rescue did a great job and were very
courteous and professional. Thanks to Ranger Chris Mingle for coming to
get me, and to Terri Churchman of Temple Bar Resort for the early
morning ride into Boulder City.