My feelings of dread and excitement are juxtaposed as I contemplate hiking up Kanab Creek today. Ray and I have been down this Canyon 25 years ago as part of a Grand Canyon loop in which we started at Indian Hollow campground, went to Sowats Point and down the Nail Trail, dropped down Kwagunt, into Jumpup, down Kanab Creek, along the Colorado River to Deer Creek and back up to Indian Hollow Campground.
I remember the challenge of scrambling over house-sized boulders using arms, legs and every muscle in my body to haul myself and my 70-pound pack up and around the meanders. But Kanab Creek also mesmerizes, with canyon walls that climb up several 1000 feet vertically, nestling you in it’s recesses and passages; blocking out the sun with dazzling pools and waterfalls of blue. I remember that too.
Well at least my pack is less than half of what it used to be I tell myself. I ignore the fact that I am 25 years older.
It is at the tight bends and meanders where undercutting of weaker rock at the bottom drops in larger chunks of the overlying Redwall. It is mainly just past the side canyon to Whispering Falls and Scotty’s Castle several miles later.
It still speaks to us as we take the short side canyon to the falls. I am blown away by the feeling of peace just watching it. It is a beautiful cascade that sounds like someone saying “shhhh…” I respond by being quiet and feel the muscles relax throughout my body.
We spend about an hour at Whispering Falls but then it is time to move on and we start the hard and arduous boulder scramble and wading, sometimes through waist-deep water. It is slow-going through here but we knew it would be. We are hiking about a mile an hour as we crawl, swim and boulder hop our way up the creek.
After 8.7 miles of scrambling we come to Showerbath Spring, a true gem in the desert landscape. A beautiful hanging lush garden of maidenhair fern and scarlet monkey flowers dripping and gushing with water from an overhang. And, it is the perfect height to stand under.
Just WOW! Because it has gotten so hot we decide to hang out here for a few hours until after 4pm when the canyon walls will again provide more shade for better hiking.
The perennial water stops about 1.7 miles above Showerbath Spring so we have to make a decision. We are planning on heading out to the Hack Canyon trailhead and back to the vehicle tomorrow which is 18 miles away with some tough hiking and some easy trail hiking. There is only water in two places from where the perennial water and springs stop 1.7 miles above Showerbath and Hack Canyon trailhead where our vehicle has water in it.
We need to get to one of these two water sources tonight. One of the water sources is called “Crack Baby” and it is in a steep canyon coming into Kanab Creek about 3/4’s of a mile above the junction of Kanab on creek right (looking down gradient) and Jumpup Canyons. It is about 5 miles above Showerbath Spring. The other source of water is Kanab Creek itself above Chamberlain Canyon where bedrock pushes water to the surface. That is about 9 miles from Showerbath Spring. Since it is after 4pm, we decide to head to Crack Baby.
Crack baby is an old friend to me. The pothole is behind a large chokestone and dropoff and is somewhat difficult to get to. Someone has left a rope to climb over the chokestone but it is not easy and other blogs talk about needing two people to access it. Lucky for me, I am small enough I can wedge myself in the hole beneath the chokestone and reach down to get the pothole water. Which I do once we reach the crack.
We set up camp nearby and rejoice in having water. The bugs are out; it is the first time we have used our bug nets.
I think I have used everything in my pack now. We fall asleep once again to the serenade of the canyon tree frogs in Crack Baby. It is the only way you would know there is water nearby.