Day 17 – 158.7 Mile to Fern Glen(168.6)
River Miles: 9.9
Hiking Miles 2
April 3, 2013
Well in case you didn’t notice, by now we’d been on the River for a 16 full days without a single drop of rain! A few days ago, the brilliant analytical minds of Chris Forsyth and Jeremy and Shannon McCumber had begun to calculate the mathematical probability of rain for the remainder of the trip.
Their initial parameters were based on, for example, that it had now failed to rain for 16 out of 21 days… so the probability of rain for the remaining 5 days would be…
I followed the discussion for a short time, but lost them after they started bringing new parameters into the equation. They were, well, doing math for fun! It’s funny how this Canyon can get numbers running through one’s head.
We prepared scrambled omelettes with English muffins beneath the clear morning skies. Soon we put our rafts into the water for yet another glorious day in the Grand Canyon. We were over 150 miles downstream of where we began, all those days ago at Lee’s Ferry.
This would turn out to be one of the best and most varied hiking days. The Canyon just kept serving up amazing side canyons, one after another after another! We floated over some peacefully serene water before arriving at our first stop, Tuckup Canyon.
parked at Tuckup
The canyon was spectacular, even from its very first steps.
Mike and Chris
Here Jackie is working her way up a chockstone as Jeremy spots her from below. There were a couple of obstacles like this in the canyon – for me they were a perfect mix of difficulty and fun.
Pretty, pretty stuff… gimme some more of that Grand Canyon!
The so-called Tuckup “Trail” (more of route than a trail) lies somewhere above here, far and away.
Bo Beck in Tuckup
Dorothy, Steph, and Brooke
Doug Nering on the downclimb
I returned to the boats to find Bo picturesquely situated here on his cataraft.
I also discovered… ravens! Ravens had ransacked my daypack, left sitting out in the open on my raft with some tasty, smelly snacks lying within it. I’d left the zippers closed, but those clever ravens know how to open them, especially the “raven-friendly zippers” (As Doug so wittingly phrased it) that come on my Osprey daypack.
Fortunately we caught the rascals in time, and very little was lost.
After Tuckup we headed straight for National Canyon, a couple miles downstream on river left. National Canyon is reputedly a classic stop for river trips, and nearly impossible to legally access from the rim because of Hualapai tribal laws. Dave Nally had heard through the grapevine that a recent flash flood knocked out a significant chockstone barrier, so the canyon held this extra curiosity.
Shannon and Jackie
Doug and Chris
The canyon soon formed an exquisite narrows in the Muav Limestone. We discovered that it remained virtually impassable after all… but it was still an amazing place to be!
One spot required a neat little stemming move, as Josh demonstrated here.
The stemming was a lot of fun! It made me feel like a little kid, playing around on a jungle gym. Jackie was thrilled with the stemming part too, excited and proud to have nailed the technique so easily.
team McCumber on the prowl
returning down the canyon
I put lunch out, and everyone was in great spirits after having so much fun in these canyons! We had salmon lox sandwiches with bagels, cream cheese, beef jerky and cookies. The cookies were always delicious along the River and disappeared so fast! We had some leftovers from previous days too, like peanut butter and jelly.
Once we were on the River again, Josh was feeling frisky and initiated a squirt-gun and splashing battle. Good times, good times!
The allies break shore on Omaha… errr… Fern Glen Beach.
The day was far from over – we had another canyon to explore!
…and so we took a stroll up Fern Glen Canyon.
This pile of rubble was an interesting obstacle. The slanted, largest boulder toward the lower left seemed to be the simplest solution. It was possible to scramble directly up its surface, but the angle was steep and slick, and left a lot to be desired for hand and footholds. Dave Nally went up and a few others followed him.
A few of us had some doubts about the scramble. We’d all overlooked an unlikely chimney to the left, but Jackie gave it a try. The chimney proved to be best! Some others followed her, and ultimately the whole group downclimbed the chimney on our return down the canyon.
Jackie in the chimney
This was the second obstacle in Fern Glen, and it was easier than it looks.
Our hike up the canyon ended at this pouroff.
it served as a serene and idyllic scene.
Bo burns off his inexhaustible energy.
Todd Martin has rappelled through this one too (Of course), as described in Grand Canyoneering.
returning to the rafts
at the mouth of Fern Glen
The icing on today’s cake three-tiered cake was that we called it an early camp right here at Fern Glen! It had been a hot day and there was still plenty of sun on the beach, so a lot of us took the opportunity to relax and bathe in the River.
Chris and the McCumbers whipped up some fish tacos with Spanish rice and refried beans, followed by an especially pleasant evening around the campfire. We had an amazing day and there was a lot of talk about tomorrow:
Lava Falls Rapid was waiting, eleven miles down the River.
It didn’t rain today.