Day 56: Leaving Grand Canyon

It feels like a big deal. I think I was in the park for fourteen hiking days (not including the rest day I took on South Rim), a long time during which Grand Canyon delighted me and made me suffer. I am a changed person. I don’t know if I can say the same of the canyon, but I did knock a couple rocks down in various places. 

I woke up this morning in my nice camp spot under the vast canyon wall. I’ve been unintentionally sleeping in lately, like my body is saying Enough! More sleep, now. I woke up at 4:45 and it was light enough to pack without my headlamp. I tried to work efficiently, minding the order of things and appreciating the ease of packing up dry rather than after a heavy night rain, and yet I wasn’t ready to start walking for a full 45 minutes.  

Immediately I was wading the creek again, which was no longer carrying a heavy sediment load but the bed still had a red tone from algae growing on the river stone. I slowly worked my way north, scrambling over the garage sized boulders, wading the water, slipping on rocks, and in an hour I came to Showerbath Spring, shedding through a clump of ferns off the cliff above. Very shortly the creek was supposed to dry up, in that surprising way they do out here, raging full on and then a bone dry rock bed a half mile later, so I decided to fill up with water at the spring rather than take it from the creek bed at the unspecified moment of disappearance. Excepting the possibility of the creek running longer and a cattle tank of poor quality, there was no water after the spring for 41 miles. I looked at the blue strip of sky between the canyon walls. It was almost glowing in eagerness. If the rest of the day today and tomorrow was going to be hot, I would need a lot of water. I filled up ten liters, drank as much as I could pack into my belly, and sloshed up the creek north. The creek did indeed dry up about a mile later, and the massive boulders mostly vanished but the walking was slow, tripping over dusty rocks in the creek bed. Still, I made decent time, watching the tapeats vanish, then the Muave, eventually the Redwall even, and before long Inwas walking between Supai walls as the canyon slowly climbed. Kanab Canyon must be out of the Kaibab uplift because the formations are occurring here at much lower elevations, about half of their native elevations in the Grand Canyon. 

Eventually I passed Jumpup Canyon, the park boundary. It felt like a significant departure. I really do feel like I developed an intimacy with the Grand Canyon borne of struggle, and a natural outgrowth of so much time spent simply surviving in a place where survival is a negotiation between you and your environment. I loved the Grand Canyon. I hope to be back. 

Kanab Canyon widened, the walls shortened, and the day got hot. As I was working my way up the canyon I heard a kind of roar. I looked around for the source and saw two Falcons chasing a small bird, maybe a finch, who was chirping its little head off. It was trying to outmaneuver the more insistent falcon, swooping up and down and flitting close to the cliff walls, and he falcon controlled it’s mad descents by pulling up hard enough to create a roar of wind in its wings. This desperate chase went on for a bit, including a dodge the finch made between a tree and the canyon wall that the falcon closely followed and then slammed into the wall, tumbling away in a burst of feathers. Right after, recovering quickly, the mad chirping stopped and the falcons flew away. In such situations I don’t know with whom my sympathies lie more than that they seem to shift to the powerless. The fear of the powerless, the delicacy of their situation, tugs on me. The finch has to live, but then so do the falcons.  

I stopped at a brief recurrence of water in the creek bed to cook a meal for lunch in the shade of a cottonwood. The weight of my pack with ten liters of water was miserable on my shoulders and every chance I could get it off was a celebration. After lunch I had a few miles in Kanab Canyon before turning west into Hack Canyon, whose walls are Coconino Sandstone with spired Kaibab Cap (I think) rocks on top. Hack Canyon is another lovely canyon, broad and grassy. After some miles of trail, I came to a dirt road, the start of almost 50 miles of road walking to bear me across the Arizona Strip. After so long in the Grand Canyon and so many scrappy miles, the road did feel really nice. Just to feel the full length of my stride. I hiked up the road a little ways before pulling off to camp right next to it. I don’t expect anyone to be by. Tomorrow I have a long day planned in an attempt to knock out as many of the road miles as I can and set myself up well for getting in and out of Colorado City the next day. It’s probably going to be terribly hot though, so I’m hoping to get an early start. We’ll see if I can actually wake up with my alarm this time. 

 

Showerbath Spring

  

the end of the Grand Canyon

  

Kanab Creek

          

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