Grand Canyon Parashant 2010--- This is really Brians' trip and I was his partner in this exploration, a return to an area from a year ago. I honestly dreaded the long difficult drive in, the logistics of which with the dog and more stuff for an extended stay didn't seem that much like fun. All things considered it went off without a hitch, no major equipment failures or injuries, and more exploration which led to more questions of this magnificent area.
We drove in again with overcast skies and muddy roads. Not as bad as previous. We cached about 10 gal of gas at the top, after topping off the FJ tank. Below the top, of Trail canyon, our RT mileage was 66 miles, averaging about 5 mph, 2wd probably 80% of the time. Bottom of Parashant, the sun started coming out, with wonderful brilliant reds in the white cliff faces and clouds streaming away forever.
The road seemed mellower, perhaps because the mystery was removed. We drove out to the end of the old airstrip for the copper mine, and set up camp with a nice ruby sunset, and great views above and into Parashant canyon, and toward the south rim. Full brilliant moon, light wind, and good campfire and rest made for a great evening.
Next day a little local exploration then back in the car and drive toward Andrus canyon. We stopped to walk to an old airstream trailer located on the benches above Andrus but below the road aways. We took a sandstone slickrock bound little canyon down and made a loop. Lovely white striping in the rock, catch pools of rain water, then the old trailer, looking good at a distance but pretty sad close up; reading material inside of 1970's vintage. At one time seemed very nice, with a great setting.
We drive on. To break up the drive we would stop to hike. This time when the road dropped into the drainage proper we decided to hike downstream and see what we could see. The canyon is wide and rocky, but after a bit the Redwall appeared and walls got higher, a little tighter and more interesting. The dog alerted on something in a brush, and we discovered a small hawk who appeared in trouble. I gently picked it up and we examined it and he/she offered no resistance. Finally we perched it on a tree branch, not sure what to do, when he took off and flew away. Hope he is not sick and will survive. We stopped where the bottom dropped out (about 30 feet), but ledge walking continued until you could climb back down in. We walked back toward the car; Brian offered an interesting alternative. Looking at the map he wanted me to walk out a side canyon and he would bring the car on up and meet me at the road. It was getting late and I was tired but I said ok. We were carrying hand held radios and could communicate our whereabouts.
This all sounds good but sometimes the application is not so smooth. I was carrying a fannypack and almost no water and no other essentials. Supposedly this side canyon rocked up and was all slickrock where it met the road. Brian also had a long and rough section of road in the dark with no spotter. Hiking up, I drank from a rain water pool and topped off my bottle. The canyon was a rocky boulder hop, not what was described. Soon it was dark and I had a headlamp but didn't feel like using it. I got to the road perplexed as to where I was ( I did not have a map with me). Started walking on the road waiting for moonrise. Couldn't get Brian on the radio, when I did sounded like he'd had a hairy time of it on the drive. We finally met and drove both of us exhausted into a car camp by the camo cabin, a rancher outpost near the head of a side canyon of Parashant.
We were so tired cold supper and crawl in the back of the car. Next morning up early to gray skies and light misting rain. We had decided to go down the Lost spring drainage, as we call it, as far as we could to Parashant/Andrus confluence. Walked again the rancher made trail, to the wonderful spring, we carried almost no water down and tanked up there from the pipe. The troughed water clean and clear. The redwall comes in again right below this, and soon we had small obstacles to go down or around. We were carrying some rope and our lightest gear in case we needed it. One place was a small boulder choke but difficult on the upclimb due to no handholds. Near the end ( for us) we were following big horn sheep trails on the benches. We had to rescue the dog at one spot. Labs love water and Charlie is no different. He had slid down a small pour over into a pool; however the next pool down the pour off was a sheer 40 feet and the rock was slick and down sloping. Brian had to climb down and we had to haul him out on a handline.
The canyon was absolutely beautiful with huge walls and undercuts, canyons within the canyon, the sun out and warm. We noted a rock feature that I can't find documented anywhere. Right now trying to talk to the Park service to see if this is known, and if not, name it.
Time was our enemy. We returned the way we came, upclimbing all the little obstacles, time consuming. Back at camp a little before dusk, and this time we had a little more energy for a fire and supper and all that.
Now the next dreaded part of the drive, out toward Mollie's Nipple ( who is that Mollie that has all these landmarks named for her anatomy??!) up the dugway. On most TOPO maps this road does not show at all resolutions. It is apparently made by 4wd folks, and goes aways into beautiful country before blocked off at the park boundary.
The dugway is a ramp to allow you to get out of a valley. It was just wide enough in a spot or two for the Toyota, but at one point the outer tire was pushing off the rocks lining the edge. Brian drove this part and I spotted. We did it and drove the road we had hiked a year earlier. We car camped at a spot near an archaeo area. We spent the afternoon just roaming around. This area in general is rich, I counted probably 10 mescal roasting pits and countless fire blackened overhangs. Lithic scatter in the thousands of pieces. One spot I called tooltime, lots of hand tools, pottery, mostly plainware shards, some corrugated and a few pieces of black on white and gray on white.
Death March day--- Brian had an area he wanted to check out for cave potential. We looked at the map, big cliffs in this area with not much of a way down and in to the Redwall from the Esplanade. We picked a likely sidecanyon and cross countried out from our campsite. We had a bit of trial and error but a break in the cliff by a pour off allowed us a non technical way down with a little scrambling. We traversed the base of huge cliffs, leaving little cairns of mostly colorful huge chunks of natural chert, we nicknamed it the "chert route". Shoulda named it the cactus scratch route. Stops included breaking out the tweezers. We traversed upcanyon coming to a amphitheatre with a run off chute beneath it. On the top of the Redwall some beautiful and difficult plunge pools. We were traversing across that when our scrambling led to an idyllic spot in gigantic leaning boulders, a small sectional cave, and a large old cedar tree with one main branch lopped off with an axe. What?? We surmised the person needed a log for assistance to get to the water. It was a great retreat in this steep shadeless, waterless place.
BIg Horn trails helped us down in the canyon through a break. The large hole proved to have no passage but had old spring remnants. We decided to go downcanyon a bit, no time for a lengthy trek unless planning an overnight. Some scramble downs, and we heard clattering of hooves ahead, but never saw the sheep, fresh tracks in mud. Some exceptional big leaps off boulders.
Oh, how I longed to go on. Hike in was difficult and the day short. We retreated, and made the mistake of trying to shorten our trip by climbing through some cliff bands to get out sooner. Brian got cliffed out and we still could not see the way clear. We were forced to descend through a catclaw boulder field, then pick up our route out. It was again dark as we got to the canyon head. Headlamps on we hit the top and wandered through the brush to find the road. Mollies as a landmark was a big help here.
We were both gimped up a bit with knee and ankle problems so the road was very welcome when we crossed it. We had left the dog at the camp because of his sore feet so it was great to be welcomed, the poor guy left alone for about 10 hours. I crawled in the car and just passed out.
Next day slept in and packed up, drove the short distance to the road closure. Along the way we found a big slickrock area just off the road, tanked up and left the shower to heat up the water on the rocks. We drove on,parked, and walked the road out. The road ended in just a spectacular old car camp area in hoodoo rocks and water pockets galore, little shelters in boulders, and a stellar view of at least a mile or so of the Colorado. We tarried there a bit, cooled off and rested, then walked back, locating the original old road which seemed to go to a canyon head.
Our camp that night was very nice on the slickrock, we cleaned up, enjoyed a nice sunset once again, and planned on the drive out. The next day we drove out, stopped to locate a unusual pictograph a rancher had told us about, his "Indian Flag". Very unusual although faded. We made the top of Trail canyon and camped there treated to a just spectacular sunset with clouds coming on in. The drive out the next day we were racing a storm, impressive clouds coming from the southwest, we stayed just ahead of it all the way to Flag. Adventure over but others will just be beginning.