The photos, below , are in the Jumpup Creek Narrows (point 7) just above the confluence with Kanab Creek. When a streambed cuts narrowly through vertical sections of cliff, it is called a “Narrows”. Such areas are always very fascinating and photogenic and can be difficult to hike if water is flowing. However the creek was dry here and the walking easy.
Left, the site of our second night camp on Kanab Creek (just past point 8). This section of the creek was fairly easy to walk. However as the day wore on, the canyon narrowed and progress became more difficult. We were faced with more rocky stream crossings, boulders, and obstacles. Backpacks had to be removed a couple times to scramble down steep dropoffs. Late in the afternoon, I slipped on a loose rock crossing the stream, spraining my ankle horribly, and flipping headfirst into a pool of quicksand with my backpack pinning my face half in the mud (point 9, picture, below right, was nearby and shows the rough boulder-strewn terrain along this section of Kanab Creek). Anxious moments ensued while Gerry yanked the pack off of my head. Note: When making a difficult water crossing with a heavy backpack, it is imperative that you leave your waist strap unbuckled! Luckily for me, I followed the rules!
We had to stop here for the night, and the next morning I couldn’t walk. This was my first moment of real fear during an outdoor experience. Rescue would take days at this place; a helicopter could not possibly land in this narrow canyon. After much discussion, we decided it best to continue downstream to the Colorado River where help could be sought from the passing rafters.
Binding my ankle and using my walking stick as a cane we pushed on. Luckily, as the day warmed, the ankle loosened up, and I could walk with a slow, very painful limp. Unfortunately, Kanab Canyon became quite difficult to walk (point 10) with many boulder-strewn stream crossings and fast water. What would have been strenuous in any case became excruciating. In the early afternoon, Gerry goes down in exactly the same way, badly spraining his ankle on a loose rock (point 11). We decide we’d better keep moving before his ankle stiffens up.
Fortunately, the canyon soon started to widen and become less rocky. We pass a spring area (photo, left) offering coolness and shade. We spend more time wading in the creek to bathe the injured ankles in the cool water.
The more comfortable environment has a positive effect. We find a good camp site for the fourth night a few miles short of the Colorado River, and feel more confident that we can make it through despite the injuries.
The photo, below left, is Kanab Creek, just above the confluence with the Colorado River (point 12). Photo, below right, shows the Colorado River and the rugged terrain of its channel east of Kanab Creek.
We reach the Colorado River (point 12) early the next morning feeling pretty good about things. Our thought is that the walk east along the river to Deer Creek would be one day. From there, we would take the relatively easy secondary trails out of the canyon and back to the Indian Hollow Campground.
However as we rounded the bend out of Kanab Creek we faced a sight from a nightmare: a gigantic boulder field hundreds of feet high extending as far as the eye could see (point 13). There was no trail or path. We were faced with miles of boulder hopping on bad legs.
Here is where we paid the price for incomplete preparedness. We did not know about the boulder field. We had only light weight canvas boots (with little ankle support) for wading in Kanab Creek. This kind of hiking required strong leather boots even without bad ankles. The air temperature was over 90°F. There was no shade. The rocks were burning hot to the touch. We did not know to bring gloves. Within a couple hours the tips of ALL my fingers AND toes were burned.
For good measure, there were rattlesnakes in the area, usually in the shady spaces between rocks. The few clusters of trees offering shade were occupied by the snakes. You had to watch every step. Progress was agonizingly slow, less than a mile per hour.
Our fifth night camp was along the Colorado River between Kanab Creek and Fishtail Canyon. We came upon a small sand dune late in the afternoon, and in shade, that made a delightful (and totally private) campsite. We had to drink river water which is safe if you disinfect it heavily but not very tasty. (By the way, freeze-dried food gets pretty tiresome after five days of it.)
The photo (above left) shows Deer Creek flowing into the Colorado River.