Posts Tagged ‘Silver Grotto’

The Dream Trip: Camp 3, March 1

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

I busted out of the sleeping bag at 5:45 on that morning and started doing the guide thing; making hot water, rustling breakfast, pumping poor old Homer up and all the rest. Lee slept in and did her back maintenance thing. It is nice to be up early and watch things come to life as the grayness gives way to the brilliant colors of the Supai and Redwall in early light. Higher up it seemed strange to see snow starting to show up on the Kaibab. It was a cloudless spring day in the making.
We actually got on the water by 10:15, a whole lot better than 1:20. Maybe the layover helped. Lee, feeling much better, had begun picking up small things to hand me on the boat and found that if she sat on a bucket she could organize our kitchen and staples box.
Our kitchen box consisted of a 20mm can with various gadgets and things, a milk crate with pots and pans wrapped in a construction grade plastic bag and our two small dutch ovens in the “hell box”, a large aluminum dry box built for me by my friend Dan Toone. Dan also did the welding on my homemade canyon type frame. When I met Dan he was making bulk tanks and such for dairy operations and other applications and agreed to help me get my river outfit together. He has a rather well developed body of metal sculpture now.
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It was a glorious morning on the water. My favorite section of the river is where the Redwall Limestone is at river level. The light bouncing around in the tight confines of the limestone is just magic. What follows the “roaring twenties” is the “great depression”. From about mile 29 on there are few rapids if any so it is really quiet. And then there are the sweet little wrens with their distinctive call. We just floated, hardly putting an oar in the water listening and visiting. It was wonderful to not have any other boats to keep up with or to wait on and only stopping where we wanted to stop. We really started realizing how different and wonderful this trip was going to be. Though we still had 24 days ahead we felt the need to savour every moment and make it last like a piece of delicious hard candy that if you suck it too hard it is gone soon. Neither of us ever took naps or read during the day while we were on the water, not wanting to miss anything.

Lee was feeling a whole lot better and really wanted to hike Fence Fault. Neither of us had ever stopped there so we tied up below the fault and set out to see what was up there after having another nice floating lunch of hummus, cheese, fruit and crackers. Breaks in the Redwall Limestone are few in Marble Canyon and where there is a fault there is often a way to climb up. We made our way easily up through the Redwall and started contouring up canyon back toward Shinimo Wash. In warmer weather we usually stop at Shinimo and scramble up into this narrow slot canyon dubbed “Silver Grotto” to catch some cool and shade. Not so in March. We entered Shinimo above the Silver Grotto where the wash widens as it cuts through the Supai formation. We could look down into the frigid depths of the limestone narrows. On a hot day with some climbing rope and descending gear it might make a fun adventure.
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Looking downstream from Fence Fault. Lee climbing through the Redwall. (Where are those gloves girl?) Looking down into upper Silver Grotto. The natural color of the limestone is revealed where it is abraded by flash floods like in Silver Grotto. The characteristic red color that gives the formation its name is washed down from the Supai and Hermit Shale above that is rich in iron from sediments originating where the Rocky Mountains now stand. The cool thing about the Redwall is that it stretches all the way eastward across the North American continent to the Appalachian Mountains. Of course way out there they don’t call it Redwall. They have some local name for it.
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Lee silhouetted against the Redwall Limestone and Supai talus in Shinimo Wash above Silver Grotto. Need I ask if she is liking this hike? You will notice that as the days went by on this trip she just got looking better. I can’t say the same for Mr Stubble Face.

After the hike we continued floating without much propulsion down stream not really thinking about where we would camp. We carefully took on water at Vasey’s Paradise and floated right by Redwall Cavern. Below the cavern on river left we found a nice little camp about mile 33.5. After a the grunt of derigging and setting up camp (Lee was a bit hammered by the hike so I did it.) Dinner was our attempt to duplicate the offering at Ray’s Tavern in Green River, two 1/2 lb burgers cooked over charcoal with sliced avocados hosed with lime juice and salt on the side. BTW, if you ever get even close to Green River, Utah check out what is possibly the best cheese burger and fries in the USA. We also made a small dutch oven full of apple crisp using a filling we canned at home from apples we grew on our place.
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The camp at 33.5 mile. Looking upstream at Redwall Cavern from camp. Looking down stream from our parking spot.