After lunch with Raven’s group we packed up and went across the river to look at what has become of the Shady Ledges. The Shady Ledges is a favorite post Lava lunch spot used by many river trips. Sometime since the last time I was there a huge bunch of limestone fell down bisecting the spot. It is quite impressive. From there we floated lazily down to the Whitmore Wash Camp. ON the way we saw the first ocotillo flowers and one Whipple’s Yucca in bloom. The dessert in general is very green from the winter rains but we have seen few blooming plants yet.
At Whitmore Wash we encountered a group from Colorado laid over there. It was the same bunch we had seen at Matkatamiba. Since we had yielded the Matkat Hotel Camp to them they invited us to share the beach with them. They would be leaving in the morning and we could stay there for a lay over. We had a good time visiting with them and swapping more river tales. One of their group had just finished a biography of Harvey Butchart and couldn’t find any takers for it in his group so he passed it to us and we spent the rest of the trip reading it together. It was a great read and what better place to read it than the Canyon.
Our hosts left us in the morning by about 9:30. We buttoned down our camp and went hiking. Lee wanted to do the Whitmore Wash mule trail so she went that way. I angled southwest and summited the twin peaks visible from camp. It was a strenuous hike and I made the peaks in 2.5 hours. The desert was very beautiful. Everything was green and the ocotillos blooming a little.
From the summit I descended a very steep chute to the saddle west of the peaks. There are a lot of faults in the area and I found myself on the Esplanade Sandstone. I contoured around to an alcove I had seen from above that has a huge juniper tree in it. In the alcove was a very old bee colony. A long time ago someone, Indian or cowboy fashioned a crude ladder from some of the long branches of the juniper tree and harvested honey from the cliff above. I couldn’t tell how old the ladder was. TYhe bee colony still had bees buzzing around it.
From the bee alcove I descended a talus slope to the valley below and picked up an old cowboy trail back to our camp. The decsent reminded me of my age. Thank heaven for ibuprofin. Lee has also had a great day. We enjoyed swapping stories as we made our dinner. It was Lee’s 54th birthday and we celebrated with roast beef, mashers with gravy and a cabbage salad with red bell peppers in it. Can you believe it, red peppers on day 20 with no ice on the trip? Dessert was apple crisp with canned whipped cream….again, no ice!