Hayduke Trail Day 38: Big Walls, Big Boulders and Bighorns

Daily Neat Beat
Day 38
Total Miles: 10.8
Cumulative Miles: 636.8
Map of Hayduke Trail Day 38, hike along the Colorado River between Deer Creek and Kanab Creek

If my younger self could go forward in time to give advice to my older (but maybe not wiser) self she would say “WTH?? You are doing that bushwhack scramble along the Colorado River AGAIN? Do you not remember the scars from the the rillenstein boulders? 

Rillenstein solution grooves in limestone

Rillenstein is made up of tiny solution grooves in limestone (less than 1 mm). When you put your hand on it, it feels like you are being pricked by a thousand needles. Try falling on what feels like a bunch of needles like my 25 year old self did….No wonder she is giving me advice, which apparently I am not taking.

View up the Colorado Rover just below Deer Creek Falls

The hike along the Colorado River between Deer Creek and Kanab has a notorious reputation among Haydukers as tedious, frustrating, boulder hopping nonsense and other words I cannot use here. It is only nine miles but is a LONG nine miles. The forecast is for hot weather and it is likely to get over 100 degrees at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. We start early at 6:15am to avoid the heat as much as possible. But we cannot start too early as we need to see to bushwhack and scramble off trail. We also have a ledge above the Deer Creek Narrows that is only about a foot wide with an overhang above it and a drop off into the narrows of about 50 feet. It is hiked all the time by river runners but we have packs and don’t want to do it in the dark.

The start and easier part of hiking along the Colorado River between Deer Creek and Kanab Creek

The start of the day goes well as we find a trail above the vegetation down by the river and start heading down river. After about 3/4’s of a mile from Deer Creek Falls, we climb up a scree slope to a ledge above the Tapeats Sandstone. This is the best hiking we have all day – flat ledge walking – I am happy for any reprieve.

Good flat ledge walking above the Tapeats Sandstone
More ledge walking on the Tapeats Sandstone

The Tapeats ledge lasts for about 3 miles and after about 2 1/2, we stop at what George Steck calls the “Siesta Spring” in his Grand Canyon Loop Hikes I book. What a delight this is in all the surrounding open and dry desert country.

Siesta Spring. Time to take a nap?

I think about a siesta and wonder about how many times George Steck took a nap here but it is not for us today. Today we have to get to Kanab Creek and it is starting to get hot.

After Fishtail Canyon, the boulder fields get more intense and it is late morning so the temperature has risen, probably over 100 degrees. Ray and I start managing the heat. We stop and wet our shirts and bandanas which we put on our heads under our hats to cool us off.
Wetting our shirts, hats and bandanas help to keep us from overheating in the hot 100 degree F temperatures

This works for a little while and we are close enough to the river we continue to cool ourselves down when we can. A small herd of bighorn, all ewes and lambs, scampers by.

Bighorn Sheep along the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon

I am amazed at how well they handle the boulders. Wish I could do that! We get to the mouth of Kanab around noon and spend the next hour filtering and drinking water from Kanab Creek. This is where we are permitted to camp for the night so we spend a lazy afternoon watching bighorns frolic across the creek from us shaded by the massive Redwall Limestone which rises above us.

More bighorn sheep. These two laid down across the creek in Kanab Creek and didn’t seemed phased by us.


Kanab Creek where it enters the Colorado River

Two of bighorns are not phased by us and paw at the ground and settle down for an afternoon nap. Ray runs around like crazy taking pictures. Later we walk upriver and set up camp in a nice spot with coarse gravel. One river guide told us that we wouldn’t have to worry about red ants if we camp in the coarse gravel. I don’t know if this is true; maybe it is just a way for river guides to ease their clients concerns.

Campsite in Kanab Creek

True or not, this is the best campsite on our trip so far and we fall asleep serenaded by the canyon tree frogs. It is a sound I associate with the Grand Canyon.



  1. I’m sure the sound of a cacophony of tree frogs is even more lovely than that of a purple trombone! But we purple trombonists we’ll make our mark on you someday.

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