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Vishnu Creek, AZ
mini location map2014-10-12
27 by photographer avatarDave1
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Vishnu Creek, AZ 
Vishnu Creek, AZ
Backpack avatar Oct 12 2014
Backpack22.00 Miles 7,000 AEG
Backpack22.00 Miles2 Days         
7,000 ft AEG
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Starting from Grandview Point, I went down to Horseshoe Mesa and then picked up the trail that drops off the Mesa towards Cottonwood Creek. At Cottonwood, I picked up the Tonto Trail and headed west. Roughly halfway between Cottonwood and Grapevine Creeks is a mega-cairn marking the start of the lower Old Grandview Trail. Took the well-carined and easy to follow OGV Trail down to a small beach along the Colorado River. Aired-up my boat, changed into my wetsuit and headed down river about 1/3 mile to Vishnu Creek. The mouth of Vishnu is behind a large pink granite outcropping and requires a difficult maneuver through a strong eddy to reach. For that reason, I aimed for the beach just before the outcropping. Once on the beach, I was able to get into Vishnu Creek by hiking up and over the pink granite.

The River in this section is relatively smooth but there's a strong channel of current (I don't know what it's called, all my maritime knowledge comes from watching reruns of The Love Boat and Gilligan's Island) that runs near the middle. Along the edges, the water swirls around and actually seems to move backwards. I tried to stay out of the channel and worked the sides so I wouldn't get sucked down into Grapevine rapids. Fighting the reverse current was a bit of work but gave me hope for tomorrow's plan.

My walk up Vishnu Creek started off almost immediately by going through some neat narrow sections with plenty of twists and turns. There are several 4-8' pour-overs that have to be climbed or bypassed but all were fairly simple. The first one was the hardest. It's about 6' and there aren't many good hand holds. I threw my pack up and wedged it between the boulders and used the pack to pull myself up. There was no water flowing in the creek and just a few small pools so I didn't have to get wet. The last dry fall is about 25' tall but has a bypass route on creek-right. After the narrows the canyon opens up and you can see Woton's Throne and Vishnu Temple up ahead. It was about 3pm so I decided to turn around here. On the way back I ran into a group of 3 guys who were doing a similar route to mine. They started from Cottonwood Creek and packrafted from there.

Headed back to the river and found a nice campsite right on the end of the pink granite outcrop. Spent a long night (about 12 hours) waiting for morning. I thought some river runners would set up camp across the way at Grapevine Beach as I heard it's a popular spot but I saw no one on the river.

Part of my original plan was on day 2 I would cross back to Grapevine Beach (not actually at Grapevine Creek but up river) directly across from Vishnu and get back to the Tonto Trail via Grapevine Creek. According to Todd Martin's Canyoneering book, one cannot hike up Grapevine from its mouth due to a large pour-over. I would have to climb up the Vishnu Schist above GV Beach and then drop down into GV Creek. He makes this route sound difficult and dangerous so I decided I would try to paddle up river and exit out Old Grandview.

Woke up early and was back to the landing beach by 6am. I saw the other group's not-well-hidden packrafting gear and noticed they all had Sevylor Trailboats. I have this same boat but it is really tiny so I opted to take a larger but almost twice as heavy 2-person boat until I get comfortable enough to use the TB. I also noticed they didn't have any life jackets or wetsuits!

Paddling up river wasn't too bad as long as I stayed at the edge but there was a strong wind coming down canyon that I had to fight. After quite a bit of hard paddling, I made it up to where I was directly across from OGV Beach and tried to make a bee line across. As soon as I got to the current channel I got sucked in and shot back down canyon about 100 yards. So I fought my way to the edge and began working back up. This time I went well above OGV Beach so I could move diagonally to it. Success!

I had a pretty uneventful hike out to Grandview Point. Along the way I ran into Dennis Foster ... n_home.htm. Most of the hikers I passed were interested in why I had paddles sticking out of my pack. Some knew right away what I was doing. If you're going to do any packrafting from a busy trail, plan to answer a lot of questions!

(my uploaded route needed quite a bit of redrawing since the original was a complete mess. It may not be accurate and doesn't include everything)

7 liters total.
Striped Whipsnake
Named place
Named place
Grapevine Rapids Vishnu Creek
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