The day before Wally and I hiked almost 14 miles in Hualapai Mtn. Park, surrounded by ponderosa pines and aspens, reaching a high of about 8300'. Today we would wake up at 4:15am, miss the exit of I-40 for 93 (see wake up time), and hike a mostly rocky slot canyon down to the Colorado River bottoming out at an elevation of about 660'. Major difference in scenery in less than 18 hours.
Our early start time of 7:15am and the slight cloud cover helped with the cooler temps. It never got up to 100 until halfway out on our way back. The trail starts out wide open with views to the west across the Colorado. Soon you're inside a narrow slot canyon with narrow bits of blue sky above your head. The canyon is extremely easy to follow and walk thru, other than the sand you trudge thru. No major scrambling or drop offs. There is one spot where the canyon opens up a bit with some rock fall on either side, reminding me of Soap Creek Canyon. Then it gets narrow again until it opens up at the river.
The trail along the river gets hard to follow in one spot, but there is a definite trail there. We stayed too close to the river and had to scramble up a loose, steep drainage. Then we followed the stream of water to the springs. Again, this was going up a narrow slot canyon, only this time it had about 2 inches of water in it.
The ladder up the spring is pretty high and had some wobble in the middle of it. Plus, the water is on it, making it just slippery enough to make you wonder if this is worthwhile. Once you get the top, you have to make sure you're not going to slip on the slick, mossy, wet rock and get away from the edge ASAP. There is one shallow pool you can get around to look further up, only to see a series of sandbags put there to form the baths that people like to soak in.
There were multiple signs warning you not to let the water into your nasal passages because of an indigenous amoeba common to thermal springs that can cause death. Wonderful. Why do people soak in these waters again? The splashing of the water while you climb the ladder doesn't make that climb any easier. The water also did have a slight "funky" smell, so once we got back to the river, we washed our hands and I dumped to hatfulls of water over my head to cool me off for the hike out.
the hike out was actually much easier than I anticipated. There was still quite alot of shade left and many breezes thru the slot canyons. Since we were below 1000' elev. most of the time, I wondered if our mega hike at about 7000' the day before might have had some beneficial cardiovascular effects for us on this hike. If it did, we soon negated that by having lunch at the In and Out Burger in Kingman.