Day 4 – Nautiloid (35) to Main Nankoweap (53.4)
River Miles: 18.4
Hiking Miles: 1
March 21, 2013
“Coffee! Come and get your coffee!”
(metallic echo of a steel utensil repeatedly struck upon a frying pan)
So begins the fourth day on the River.
After inhaling some eggs, sausage patties, bread, and oatmeal, we had a few moments to explore up Nautiloid Canyon with the McCumbers and Chris Atwood. The canyon is named for its clear display of nautiloid fossils that date up to about 400 million years ago.
We continued upstream without finding anything, but then Chris Forsyth showed up to reveal the location of the nautiloids. We’d stepped right over them without realizing it.
We poured some water over one or two of the fossils to help their outlines show more distinctly, as recommended in Tom Martin’s map & guide. Soon we discovered about a dozen of them riddled across the canyon floor. These fossils were pretty neat, resembling something I was only familiar with as a result of killing them in video games.
Chris Atwood at the mouth of Nautiloid
Chris Forsyth descends the canyon.
our camp at Nautiloid, as viewed from above
Dave Nally stood on the quiet beach and recited a lovely poem, setting the mood before we put in the water for another day down the River.
We passed the landmark Bridge of Sighs after only about a mile.
The light was especially brilliant and beautiful this morning as it reflected off the Redwall. The scene was enhanced by the sound of the peaceful oars hitting the water, punctuated by the occasional Canyon Wren.
This morning I truly began to feel settled and at home on the water.
We have cut through the sandstones and limestones met in the upper part of the canyon, and through one great bed of marble a thousand feet in thickness. In this, great numbers of caves are hollowed out, and carvings are seen which suggest architectural forms, though on a scale so grand that architectural terms belittle them. As this great bed forms a distinctive feature of the canyon, we call it Marble Canyon.
Doug pointed this out as the proposed site for a dam in Marble Canyon, with some exploratory drilling seen here to test the integrity of the rock.
We pulled in to Buck Farm Canyon for a short hike. This is yet another area that’s difficult to access, unless you come in from the River. As usual, more information on technical canyoneering in Nautiloid and Buck Farm is detailed in Todd Martin’s Grand Canyoneering.
We had a pleasant walk up the canyon, as I hung back a little from the group.
Chris Atwood longingly gazes up Buck Farm Canyon.
The group stopped at a point where we weren’t inclined to explore further, as the canyon becomes more difficult to navigate.
Doug picks his way back down Buck Farm
After the hike we enjoyed a lunch of cold cut sandwiches, and then embarked on a long afternoon on the water. From this point there was a lot smooth water separating us from Nankoweap, our target camp The only exception was President Harding Rapid, rated a 4 by Grand Canyon standards.
We planned a layover day tomorrow at this popular camp (Nankoweap), prompting the decision to make a beeline to secure an optimum spot and relatively early arrival.
Soon after lunch we passed the Anasazi Bridge, seen here in the distant center of the image as an ancient makeshift bridge of wood and logs. Even though Doug had some practical information on it, it’s difficult to fathom how the natives could have pieced together a viable route through this part of the Canyon.
We ran the President Harding Rapid after passing the bridge. Here’s a link to Chris Forsyth’s video of it. Super genius that he is, Chris rigged a functioning tripod for his camera in the back of the raft with hiking poles and cam straps.
Doug pointed out the bottom of the Eminence Break route on river-left, at the bottom of the rapid. I haven’t done this hiking route into Marble Canyon (yet), so it was interesting to see this area where it reaches the River.
There was a lot of flat water (And a little wind) for the rest of the way to Nankoweap, so I got a lot of time on the oars. photo by Doug Nering
Jackie got to do some rowing too.
as well as Shannon
Nankoweap is a great spot that we were lucky to have all to ourselves for the night.
While most of the group got settled in to stay put for the full layover day tomorrow, I pulled out my overnight backpack and prepared for an adventure that would take place over the next two days. Tomorrow morning Doug Nering was slated to lead some of us on a two-day hike over the butte fault route and back down Kwagunt Creek to the River. A total of six of us were in on the hike, including the McCumbers and Atwood.
Most of the others planned on hiking up to the granaries and relaxing on the beach. Chris Forsyth was eyeing a solo jaunt up the Redwall break in Little Nankoweap.
On the morning of the day after tomorrow, Day 6, the remaining group would float downriver and pick up our backpacking group at Kwagunt.
I got most of the packing and organization done before dinner. Tonight’s cook team consisted of Josh, Amy, and Chris Atwood.
cooking photos by Chris Atwood
Josh established himself as the grill master, serving up a mean pile of Ribeye steaks and baked potatoes. Not only that, but he went on to dazzle us with his skills on the Dutch oven, baking up an apple cobbler that was the best dessert of the trip to date.
There was some fleeting talk of a moonlight hike up to the granaries, but we all just wanted to retire to our tents after such a satiating dinner. It didn’t rain today.