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South Kaibab Trail
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mini location map2011-06-05
5 by photographer avatarDave1
photographer avatar
South Kaibab TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 05 2011
Hiking18.18 Miles 4,951 AEG
Hiking18.18 Miles
4,951 ft AEG27 LBS Pack
Partners none no partners
After testing out my Sevylor Trailboat at Lake Pleasant and in the Verde River a few times, I thought I might step it up a bit and give the mighty Colorado a shot. I know the CO is serious business but after going head to head with the drunk boaters and maniac jetskiers at Lake Pleasant I figured I was ready for a bigger challenge.

Feeling apprehensive, I wanted a section of river that was relatively smooth with no rapids and with easy access from a trail. After looking at some satellite images and reviewing some personal photos, I chose a short leg that runs just before the Phantom Ranch area.

I Headed down the S. Kaibab Trail with my boat, paddle, life jacket and wetsuit all stuffed in a backpack. My original plan was just to lazily float down the river a short distance, passing under the Black Bridge, trying to stay right and exit before the curve and Bright Angel Rapids so I could land at the Boat Beach (where all the raft trips stop to visit Phantom Ranch). Anyway, that was the plan.

Once I crossed the Black Bridge, I walked along a use trail that goes up river past the gauging station. About a 1/2 mile after the bridge, I climbed down from the trail (which is about 50 or so feet above the river) to get to a sandy area along the bank. I stripped down, donned my wetsuit and blew up my boat. I put my clothes and backpack in a trash bag and threw that in my boat, taking up more than half its seating capacity. "You're gonna need a bigger boat".

The river is wide in that section and there aren't any rapids until a ways after the bridge so I thought I'd have little problem. Wrong! As soon as I put in I was amazed by the strength of the current! It immediately pulled me and my little dinghy to the center of the river, spinning me around in circles all the while! I knew the current would bring me down river and right into the rapids if I let it so I paddled as hard as I could to get back near the river's edge. I almost made it but then my paddle snapped in half! Just a few feet from the edge but feeling the strong pull back out, I rolled out of the boat and swam for it, dragging my boat with me. I desperately grasped onto some reeds along the edge as there was no sloping exit at this spot, just a sharp drop off. I pulled myself up and out, having only traveled about a quarter of a mile. The river and cheap Chinese paddle manufacturers won this battle but I may return... with better equipment.

On the way out via the Bright Angel Trail, I Saw a Bighorn Sheep resting along side the trail. I took a few pics but it didn't seem to be bothered by my presence. It may have been sick or injured though.
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