Rock Garden

Crystal Canyon — This place is famous for the major flood of 1966 when as much water came down the Crystal drainage as typically flows by the river. This event changed Crystal Rapid dramatically and the height of the debris flow can still be seen by the rubble banks on either side above where the stream comes out of the walls. And it is still famous today as the most feared rapid even though a succession of unusually strong river flows, especially 1983, have reduced the constriction of the river to the left bank and made the current slightly less awesome.

This is the last of the major drainage systems in central Grand Canyon for me to visit by foot, although I have been through Crystal Rapid twice, the 1st time in 1968. However, there will need to be at least another visit to be able to say anything about the upper parts of this very extensive side-canyon.

Routes — Part of the Crystal/Phantom Loop in GCLH-I. Downriver to Tuna Canyon on top of the Tonto Platform; upriver to Ninetyfour-Mile Canyon through a break at a notch behind a tower on the east. The elevation change of these routes from streambed to Tonto Platform is very substantial and these are very stiff climbs of more than 1 hour whether ascending or descending. Downriver is an area much less known.

Routes also exist in the upper part of this area, including the connection to the rim north of Shiva saddle which makes the start and end of the standard Loop Hikes route.

To locate the upriver route, look to the Tapeats rim from Crystal delta. Most of the route can be viewed from the upriver overlook onto the rapid, but the exact route is not evident. There is a caution about the location of this route because the lines on maps of both editions of the Loops books are incorrect, being too near the river, but I really think the place is obvious enough or you should not be hiking here. Go upstream to the small ravine where the streambed narrows slightly. Start up this unmarked ravine a short distance and then turn to gain the north slope just above the stream and look for sign of use. Continue to ascend northeast angling toward where the break was sighted earlier. This slope is steep but good footing, and the break at the top is easy with a fine view from the tower that forms the notch. This same break is described in Treks as an access by the Stanton expedition for making photos of the area from above the Redwall. Going upriver from here is traveled somewhat more often and there is a good track through at least most of the first bay, which has a rather complex structure for routefinding.

The downriver access is very near the point at the top, but the best approach from the streambed seems very uncertain and the slopes are quite loose, extremely steep, and difficult to read. The final access through to the top is at the north side of the jumble leading to the rim and conditions here are unstable and difficult.

2004 October - Descending the break nearest the river from the west platform over very steep and loose slopes. Took a half rest day here on the way from Shinumo before continuing to Phantom. No river traffic at all on the last day of the month and we three (Gene, Bob, Doug) are alone here the whole time, drying out gear, washing, and staying on the upriver beach for Camp 6.


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