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Salt Trail Canyon to LCR Gorge
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Northeast, AZ
Northeast, AZ
Backpack Sep 23 2007
Backpack6.00 Miles 2,750 AEG
Backpack6.00 Miles   10 Hrs   30 Mns   0.57 mph
2,750 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked descriptions
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Dave Wilson
We headed out from the valley at 4:15am and arrived at the trailhead at 8:30am. I took a 20lb pack plus a 100oz of water. Dave opted to go the bivy route and loaded up on six individual quarts of gateraid caching them along the way.

Reached the confluence at 1pm at a moderate pace. 4.5 hours seemed too fast. Figure I could easily shave off another hour with only a daypack. I'd rate this as a drawn out Flatiron in reverse. The numbers match up to a twin Camelback hike or one Flatiron, the canyon layers will likely deceive your mind. Nothing to be concerned with if you hike much. If you haven't trained yourself to stop and think when cairns get out sight or if the cairns are missing then this would be an adventure for sure! Dave showed me a section of canyon he tried before and it made my stomach turn just looking at it.

My intentions for the trip were less to the see the "blue" and more to head up Big Canyon to see where George Mancuso got swept away. From the top you get a glimpse of the river. It appeared brown from above. We only passed one other group in Salt Trail Canyon, which was heading down in the first hour. The one guy was spunky and friendly, his buddy showed serious signs of exhaustion. The hike down was as I've felt in the Grand Canyon before... It's cool, but I'm not in awe. The weather was beyond perfect, mid seventies with some cloud cover and a pleasant breeze.

Down at the confluence I absorbed and said yeah it's cool but wanted to get over to Big Canyon more than anything. Dave plopped on the beach only later to find out he wasn't feeling well. Finally got to work over to Big Canyon. Dave was not interested in Big Canyon so we agreed to meet up later. He'd go take photos of blue water and I'd head up. Big Canyon is best described as a desert jungle near the confluence. It's loaded with some cool photo ops. Not even fifteen minutes up I heard thunder ripping through the canyon. I turned around to a slanted wall of rain heading up LCR gorge towards Big Canyon. Quickly wrapping up my camera gear I'm thinking I need to get out of this death trap. Down at the confluence it's passed and the speed storm scenario continues throughout the afternoon. Each storm cell rolling by didn't produce enough water combined to be concerned. The clouds never let up, there was no sunset to photograph and by this point I was wishing I was home reading about somebody else's exciting trip.

We camped mid-way between the confluences on a post card beach setting. 9pm Dave jumps in my tent as the bivy option wasn't panning out due to increased storms. The storms kicked into high gear pounding the canyon. Each gust nailed the tent causing water droplets at the seams to drop. Which felt like repetitive shock treatment when it hit my face. Nevertheless I slept well in my sleeping bag. I'd offered Dave a sheet of tyvek but he apparently didn't understand the benefits and chose to freeze and endure the full body shock treatment.

Midnight rolls around and Dave's outside the tent hollering "joe water!". A flood rolled in rising the creek five feet to the base of my tent. I quickly stuffed everything into pack along with about ten pounds of sand being in such a hurry. Snapped off one shot of the creek and boogied on out. Beach access was a no go so we bushwhacked the nasty. Back at the confluence we walked through the Fish & Wildlife camp that surveys the chub on a yearly basis. Dave wants to camp here but I just want to go home. He thinks I'm nuts but agrees to head out. That idea was stopped in about two point two minutes when we found out Salt Trail Canyon was in flood. This dry canyon was raging eight to ten feet. We decided to crash at the helipad. I had just fallen asleep when Dave decides he wants to go back to the feds camp. Not really wanting to invade their camp I slept on the outskirts. Dave bummed a bag and a spot in one of the guys tents. They were all beyond nice from the minute we met them the prior day. Driving home Dave asked weren't you freezing. My feet were cold because they were wet. After some explaining I think he began to understood the tyvek. Personally I'd probably never just hit the ground but I was tired and didn't figure any rodents or bugs would be out and about in the rain.

Morning rolls and the feds seemed cheery to have company. Luckily the flash of the flood had passed and we were on our way... home! The hike up proved to be phenomenal. Waterfalls, double waterfalls, triple waterfalls this was something to be in awe over. There were so many we passed several up. Almost had to force myself to take more photos as I knew few get to see the spectacle. Passing some I couldn't help but think I used to lose sleep over seeing just one of these in prime.

Higher up we could see that the river before Big Canyon was still somewhat blue. One of the fed guys had said he thought Big Canyon & Salt Trail Canyon had hit but not so much LCR. He was right. He said this was the same type of flash flood that killed George. He knew him as he'd been coming yearly since '93. He arrived four days after the fact on that year in 2001. Which seems odd as that would have been August 11th, pretty dang hot to be in the canyon. Glad I convinced Dave out of wanting to camp at the confluence with Big Canyon...

Time and distance recorded is from the trailhead to the LCR confluence which most would be interested in knowing. 3 miles and 4.5 hours down. 6 hours up with several photo breaks.
Navajo Hogan (Female)
Named place
Named place
Little Colorado River Gorge
Flash Flood
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