Monday, Oct 2nd, 2023, 1400-1800
Deer Creek \ Colorado River to Scotty’s Castle, Kanab Creek Canyon
7.5 mile raft hitch to Kanab creek, then 7.5 miles, elevation 2750′
The wind picked up and it started to rain just after midnight, just like the forecast said. I was really glad I set up my tent but regretted pitching it in such an exposed spot. I lamented not being in the cozy and protected site I’d picked out across the river. Or even under the alcove where Worm was. Instead, my poor tent was getting thrashed. At one, point I lowered my pole to give it a break. But the rain started to fall heavily, so I had to put it back up. Then one of my ultralight stakes pulled out, so I had to go out in the rain to resecure all my corners. Thank goodness there was no shortage of rocks. I lost at least an hour of sleep fretting over all this. Finally the storm calmed and I drifted off to the sound of the rain. My tent was still standing and not too wet in the morning. All my stuff stayed dry.
I joined the rafting party for breakfast first thing, enjoying toasted english muffins, eggs and ham. They didn’t have a whole lot extra but were very generous in offering what they could. We helped pack and carry stuff to the beach. It’s incredible what these groups bring…so much stuff! A full kitchen and amo can after amo can of odds and ends. The toilet waste even went in an amo can. It took until almost 10 am to load everything. At last, we were provided life jackets and officially became rafters. More like we became passengers, since the activity of rafting involves pretty little activity much of the time. There were a few rapids along the way, but nothing very daunting. The river felt a lot more relaxed than back in May. Thank goodness the water temperature was so much warmer. I didn’t mind the river splashes as much this time around, in fact they felt good.
We arrived at Kanab canyon around 1 pm and found the other private party there finishing lunch. Tom, who’d I’d been talking to at length the day before, immediately came over to offer their leftovers to Worm and me. We eagerly took him up on his kind offer. They had made a salmon spread to go on pita bread. It was so good. I think it was also a relief that our group didn’t have to scrounge to come up with extra food, as I think they were running a little short on things. It’s not that we felt so entitled as to expect another meal, but we were in a bit of a predicament in delaying our schedule for nearly a day, as we just hadn’t planned for it. I was carrying slightly too little food to begin with, since I couldn’t really fit all I needed. So it was a real blessing to be gifted any extra food that could be spared. We sure needed and appreciated it!
I thought back to the raft party that Sky and I met in the spring at Nankoweap. They had so many leftovers at breakfast. I realized that groups must often make too much food at the beginning of a trip. They haven’t dialed in how much everyone is eating and likely people are not as hungry as they are later on in the trip, kind of like hiker hunger. It made sense that this far down the river, leftovers were a much sparser commodity.
We got a parting group picture, said our sincerest thank yous for everyone’s generosity, and waved goodby as we walked up the canyon. For a brief stretch, we passed some day hikers from the other group. Then we were on our own again, the canyon embracing us in its prodigious twists. What a canyon! It had the highest and sheerest red walls of any I had seen yet, aside from the Grand. The creek is more like a river at times, draining a huge area north of the city of Kanab. Water flows from snow melt in the mountains near Bryce. Additionally, thunderstorms in the area can send torrents of water down the extremely narrow canyon. According to a sensor at the confluence of the Colorado River, the creek flashes pretty regularly…3 times just in September! Last spring, it was running dangerously high from all the snow melt.
It was kind of a good thing we’d taken it easy the past 2 days, delaying our entrance into the canyon by about half a day. We were worried about the storm chance on Monday night, which could have potentially led to a flash flood. It didn’t, but best not to take a chance if we had an option. There weren’t any storms predicted over the next few days, so we felt pretty safe. The canyon was so narrow and the walls so high, I could see how hikers might feel uneasy. It was also kind of slow going. I’d read about the house-sized boulders that often blocked passage, and we certainly found our fair share of these. But the water was low enough that we could sometimes go up the middle of the creek through the cracks. We did a lot of scrambling too, but it was fun. Overall, making my way up this canyon wasn’t as hard as I’d expected. Tedious, often yes.
I’d been hoping to make it past Showerbath spring but we had to stop short, as we were running out of daylight. We were also looking hard for an elevated campsite, should the creek rise overnight. We found the perfect bank with grassy areas around mesquite trees. It was clear no flood had reached that high in decades. We could sleep at ease and I did indeed.