This was a fun trip with Joe and Mike. I hadn't seen Joe since our death march through Sedona and had never met Mike before. I woke up at 2:58AM in order to meet Joe in time. We were quickly on our way and found Mike camped out along the road. We hopped in his truck and managed to bounce our way to the trailhead, you need a good 4x4 going in and a better one for getting back out!
We started in the dark with headlamps but the sun rose quickly enough. It was nice enough to stay behind clouds the whole day making for some great hiking weather. After realizing there was no trail to speak of, we scrambled our way through the brush in the general direction we needed to go. After going down a steep ridge we hopped into a wash and began following that. I was having a great time jumping down canyon when I realize I've left the other two behind and overshot my turnoff by a half mile! After a few utterances I run back upcanyon in time to catch the other two and bushwhack over a shortcut (not) to see them. From there the trail is mildly pleasant with some cool rock formations caused by the winds including many alcoves and a mini grand-tetons slickrock formation, like giant stalagmites rising from the open ground, very cool.
We checked out Adams camp on the way and arrived at Brown's non-cave (dynamited shut). We ate lunch and proceeded down canyon. We briefly stopped to ponder downclimbing a 20-25 foot waterfall and once we got to the bottom realized it was nothing that should have caused any apprehension. We made it to the lake as a boat high tailed it out of there, probably thinking we were wandering sasquatches or something.
We decided not to climb up, down, and up to do a Long Canyon loop. On the way out we actually found most parts of the trail and made much better time. At the designated meeting point we found the note left by Hank and Randal an hour earlier. Climbing the ridge Joe put it in overdrive and left us in the dust. We caught up to him at the trailhead and exchanged war stories a bit with Hank and Randal before we set off. Somehow we managed to make the whole road out in about an hour and 10 minutes to 87, including time picking up some trash. If I tried that in my car I would have been left with pieces of metal no bigger than a grapefruit!
Mike, it was great to hike with you, thanks for driving! Randal, great to finally shake hands with you in person, thanks for the gummy worms
Joe and Hank, great seeing you guys again!