Kanab Creek Loop

George Steck's Deer Creek - Kanab Loop in Reverse

23-27 Sep 1995 -- Trip Leader: Bob Rossman

The Cohort

Bob Rossman, Doug Nering, Marshall Malden, Mike ????, Bob’s Friend and Son.

The Route

This trip follows George Steck’s Deer Creek - Kanab Loop from Grand Canyon Loop Hikes I in the reverse of the route described in the book.

Indian Hollow Canyon

Starting at Indian Hollow Campground, the route initially follows the Thunder River trail, and then stays in the bed of Indian Hollow Creek going west. The narrow bed meanders through sections of pine, juniper, and sage. Travel is easy and there is no brush or obstacles of any kind until a series of falls in the Coconino. The Coconino sandstone layer is only some 300 feet thick in this part of the canyon. The first drop can be descended along a slanting crack with a tree in the middle, to the left of the fall. Packs are passed by hand here due to the tree and four-foot drop at the bottom. After a short passage through trees and brush the route exits across a ridge to the right and descends a narrow vertical crack. The rock is a little loose and the moves are awkward, so packs are lowered by rope. An open slope leads down to the top of the third climb. Again, lowering packs by rope makes this section, with few handholds, an easy descent.

Below this cliff, the bed gradually opens. The cliffs and saddle at the east end of Fishtail Mesa are interesting to view. Passing over the saddle would lead to the head of Fishtail Canyon and Hualapai Spring. The top of Fishtail Mesa is clearly accessible through breaks northwest of the saddle. Large boulders, debris washouts, meanders, and loose footing demand attention to travel in spite of the easy grade.

As the bed turns more to the northwest it enters Esplanade layers and cliffs. The bed is narrow and a spring supplies surface-water along a section of the creek. Several small Supai cliffs are easily negotiated. However, at one point there is a major fall in the bed. We follow the right-hand edge until we find a narrow ramp going upstream that leads to the bed. The map location of the spot known as "Big Pool" is uncertain. The result is that we don’t have much idea how far our expected water source may be.

Small pools and other drops are found in the bed at several places. Soon we pass the first large side-canyon from the right, and then discover the top of the limestone. Almost immediately there is a major drop in the limestone. Here we stop and consult. It seems as if this is a likely spot for the "Big Pool" and there should be water, but it is dry. The climb down is slippery, but not difficult. As we are discussing options, two hikers come up the bed.

This convenient encounter gives the result that we now know what several of us suspected: that there is no water within several hours walk downstream.


But it's not far back to the last small pool, so we leave packs and head back upstream with empty bottles. A large side-canyon joins here from the north and as I pass I think I hear the sound of falling water. It seems worth checking out and Marshall comes along too. There is a broad, shallow pool and trickle of water from the edge of the cliff above. Climbing up a rockslide to the left gains the top of this cliff. Water flows through lush grasses with an appearance that assures constant supply. Here we fill our bottles and enjoy the oasis while the others are hiking farther up and back. A slope and Supai overhang above look like a possible site for ruins, always likely where there is a good water source below the rim.


The chosen campsite is a narrow gravel section in the Redwall. At least 3 of the group have tents. Bob's friend is not doing well. Throughout the day there has been some talk of a hike last year when he was... not ill, but unable to eat. He completed the trip, but at a pace seriously limited by lack of energy. He had made a few trips recently with good results and brought some canned goods on this trip to help keep an appetite. In the morning he decides to turn back and his son chooses to go with him. There is some debate and a few tears, but it seems right, and a good choice by the son to go as escort. Four remain to complete the trip.

With more credit to luck and none to intelligence, we were not washed down Jumpup in the night. The wind blew so hard several times that it was no trouble to imagine a flood pouring down on us, as it did in Stina under weather conditions only slightly more threatening. If I know better than to camp in a narrows just below a confluence in a north-rim drainage (and I am sure I do), then why didn't I pack up and go somewhere else? I must break myself of this "herd instinct."



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