Kanab Creek Loop - continued

No Obstacle Pool, and Jumpup Canyon to Kanab

In a few minutes from our morning start we are looking down into the empty (dry) pit of the "Obstacle Pool." Still, it is an obstacle. The rock is so slick that it is difficult to imagine how anyone could get up from below without a push. With a fixed-rope around a bush, we slide down and get our packs back on at the other side in less than 15 minutes. The fact that there is often water at this place, but no source, confirms the high risk factor to last night's narrows campsite. When water fills this pool, it must come from floods.

The Redwall narrows cut deeper and soon we are at the junction with Jumpup Canyon. Navigation is easy going down these channels. Just "go with the flow." Coming up would require a little more thought. A bad turn, although not easy to do, could take one far astray.

The canyon is astonishingly narrow, with easy travel along the level, rocky bed and 300 foot cliffs straight up. On the right, we soon find a pool at the base of a side-canyon fall with a floating dead mouse. A sharp bend to the left seems to exceed 90 degrees. The bed grows gradually wider and we arrive at Kanab Creek on schedule with the estimates in GCLH-I.

Kanab to Springs

The Kanab Creek bed is dry where Jumpup Canyon joins, but this is no surprise. Travel down the bed is rapid and the rate of progress aided by tracks across the banks on the inside of each bend. The sun, well overhead, is blocked by walls most of the time. As expected, water begins to show in the bed and we stop to wash up where an east-side canyon enters. Less than 2 miles more of winding canyon brings us to Showerbath Spring, which is clearly located on the 7.5min. map. Water from an overhanging spring on the east bank falls on the west side of the stream. This is water that we can enjoy without filter or treatment. Monkey-flowers overhead add their orange color to the scene.

Scottys Castle

Arrival at Scottys Castle takes us by surprise... we are so occupied picking our way through boulders and stream-crossings. Bob had thought to go up this side-canyon, but no one seems to have the energy or enthusiasm. A look around the next bend brings progress to a halt. We need a campsite and it's all boulders down-stream. With a bank on the inside of the bend and friendly Muav ledges on the outside, this looks like a good place to stop. There is a great view of Scottys Castle in the afternoon light. Above us on another ledge is an old cottonwood log; there must have been some really high water here once.

Night brings a visiting pair of ringtails. But the inexpert camp raiders are easily defeated this time; after suspending our food in the middle of a slanted rope we never see them again.

Lower Kanab

A half-mile below Scottys Castle is the most difficult section of Kanab Creek. This is a recognizable pattern at several points in Kanab Creek. Boulders pile up into obstacles a half-mile below the point where a major drainage enters. Each of us tries a slightly different way through. I stay left and start up a steep track when a tangle of brush and driftwood blocks the bank. But I quickly give it up and go back to fight the brush. In spite of this miscue, I waste slightly less energy than the others and come out the bottom first. The bed makes a sharp bend to the right and a large overhang on the outside of the bend makes an appealing and spacious camp... rare in the Kanab narrows. I want to keep my lead a little while before I am passed, so I go on to the end of the next long, open section before looking back to check that the rest of the group is coming. But no one appears after a wait and I finally turn back expecting something must be wrong. Indeed, it turns out that Bob slipped and has gone into a pool over his head with his pack and all gear. The worst news is that his camera is dead.

Slide of Sussurus

Gradually, travel is easier and sign of travel increases. On the right bank above the bed we find an established track. Soon we stop opposite a significant side-canyon to the east. This has to be Slide of Sussurus. (No contest, George, it's the best name.) Surprisingly, I am the only one eager to go for a look. Not very far up is a convoluted Muav channel with a small pool at the base. It’s unusual and interesting, and definitely not a fall, but I was expecting something more dramatic. Bob soon comes up and climbs up the Muav to the next level just as I am getting out of the pool, and I gather my gear and go on up too. There are lots of huge boulders to climb and no more water, and I meet Bob on his way back. "See anything up there?" Bob: "Not much."

I always like to see the headwall for myself and so go on. My curiosity is rewarded beyond expectation when I finally climb through another Muav slot to the real Slide of Sussurus. The clear pool, emerald rock, overhanging roof, scattered droplets falling from out-of-sight, and the endless ostenato of water betwixt flow and fall... This is real magic, peaceful and wild. And it's all mine in this moment of encounter.

Bob is easily convinced it’s worth a second trip to see the slide when I describe what I found. He'll have no trouble catching up with us when we stop for lunch.

Kanab at the Colorado

After another jumble of boulders, the track starts to look well-traveled. Routine tramping and stream-crossing leads soon to the mouth of Kanab at the Colorado. I have to back up to find the lowest viable crossing to the west bank. Then over the sand dunes for a view of Kanab rapid. A passage in the tamarisk leads to the spot to wade across the estuary and regain the east bank. The mud is incredibly foul, unpleasant, and sticky, but not too deep... just don’t try to move very fast. The passage between the tamarisk and the cliff on the other side leads to several good camp spots among the trees. After some discussion about continuing upriver along the Colorado (where would the next camp be?) we decide to stay the night here. The campsite issue backs my promotion for staying put, but my earnest persuasion comes from being real tired out.



Catalog of Places - Trips - Routes - Notes