North Rim Road Trip

Trip Report 199107

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The Experience

Kathleen and I met in 1989 or so and soon thereafter we discovered that we both liked to camp.  We did a long road trip out of the back of my Ford Mustang, but it was just too cramped.  Plus, you could not go anywhere interesting because of lack of ground clearance and four wheel drive.  Later, Kathleen purchased a Chevy S-10 Blazer.  While still small, it did offer more room, reasonable mileage and four wheel drive.  Meanwhile, we decided to get a "pound pup", Bogart.  Bogart was a nice dog and was very happy not being at the pound.  But, he also had developed separation anxiety which made leaving him by himself a non-starter.  So, we packed him up and headed out to the more remote regions of the Grand Canyon.  Our first night was in a motel in Mesquite, NV.  Then the next morning we headed out over the Mesquite Mountains into the so-called "Colorado Strip" that is on the north side of the river but south of the Utah border.

The photos below are what we saw. These are scans of chemical photos.

Our first night's camp site was next to a remote BLM landing strip complete with a barbed wire fence to prevent the cattle and burros from being on the strip when a landing is attempted.

From our camp, we had a great view of the cliffs in the distance.

To provide sufficient room for Bogart (the dog) and our stuff, we rented a U-Haul trailer (without a spare) and got some chain link fence to serve as the security guard.  We did however bring a High Lift jack that I bought Kathleen as a Christmas present.  A real girly gift.

As the elevation increased we passed through a region of pine trees.  In the shadows we spotted a flock of wild turkeys.

We descended the other side of the ridge into the Pinyon and Juniper trees.

Our objective was Toroweap Point on the north rim of the Grand Canyon.  We camped next to the edge and then got out to see the view.

Kathleen stands at the lip of the cliff at Toroweap Point.

It is a really long way to the bottom, perhaps 2,000 feet.

The view out the rear of our camp site was good.  Outstanding in fact.

The cliff at Toroweap is profound and it is a long way to the river below.

The river cut through a combination of volcanic and sandstone structures.

This was the first time either of us had been to Toroweap.  The view was stunning. 

The dog would go nowhere near the cliff so I had to take a photo of Kathleen by herself.

From Toroweap, we traveled via the dirt road network to Kanab Point overlooking the confluence of Kanab Creek with the main Colorado River.  Look closely on the horizon and you can see the smoke from a forest fire that was burning in the Kaibab region.  The valley in the photo above is the Kanab Creek Canyon.  The dark red colors on the opposite cliff are uranium rich areas.  Indeed there were a number of mines in the area.

Looking generally to the south toward the Colorado.

I sat on the cliff edge with my feet hanging over and there were small birds that buzzed me.  As they swooped by, I could hear the wooshing of their wings through the air.  The main canyon of Kanab Creek is visible in the photo above.

Kanab Point is a cool place, but close to nothing.  It is a long trip to get there.

The sweeping views were impressive.

From Kanab Point we went to Indian Camp on the north rim.  Our plan was to hike into the canyon about half way to the river.  The planned descent was about 3,000 vertical feet and we were taking the dog.  It was hot, but we brought plenty of water for the three of us.  Note he is drinking from the cup laying down.  We decided to turn around at Deer Creek and our decision was based on the amount of time it took us to get there.  I assumed that going out would be twice as slow as the descent.  This seemed like a sound assumption, but the reality was the trail was so steep that we just crept down the grade as we slipped step after step.  Our time to get back to the rim was less than 1/2 my estimate, which was better than the other alternative.

The view of the north canyon face from Deer Creek was most impressive.

We did not have a GPS for this trip, so we determined our location the old fashioned way: with a lensatic compass, multiple bearings and a map.

The view into Deer Creek was impressive too; we still had a substantial vertical distance to get to the river.  The walls of Deer Creek canyon are very steep.

We turned around at Deer Creek and headed back the way we came up the very steep, loose trail.

I got this shot of the canyon wall near the top of the trail.  We took electrolyte pills on the trail and although we were tired, we were not shot.  The dog drank more water than we did and he WAS shot.  He went right into the tent and crashed.

Next morning we broke camp and headed along US 89 toward Page, AZ.  Above are the Vermillion Cliffs that are visible before the road descends off the Kaibab Monocline.

Near Page, I got this shot of Bogart.  He was a great companion, but you could not leave him alone as he would tear things up.  He did our kitchen several times.  Not cool and that behavior ultimately resulted in his demise.  After we bought our house, he started working on the plumbing of our spa when I was at work, and that was unacceptable.  After 18 months with he was delivered back to the pound.  That, of course, would do nothing to improve his separation anxiety, but both Kathleen and I had jobs so there was no choice.  Our neighbors were complaining about the whining he was doing during our absences.  Sad outcome.

Glen Canyon dam at Page, AZ.

The bridge over the Colorado River on US 89.

In Page we rented a small plane to give us an airborne tour of the area.  We were running short on time and had to return to San Diego, so a 2 hour plane flight could cover several day's worth of driving in terms of sight seeing.  Above is Wahweap Bay on Lake Powell.

Wahweap has a big marina for house boats and pleasure craft.

Gunsight Butte (left) and Navajo Mountain on the horizon.  Navajo Mountain is over 10,000 feet.

The flanks of Navajo Mountain had huge outcroppings of sandstone that were exposed by the volcanic uplift.

We flew over Rainbow Bridge, which is visible next to the trailing edge of the wing.

Another view of Rainbow Bridge.

The canyon system that hosts Rainbow Bridge has plenty of incredible structures.  The increased slope of the land due to the Navajo mountain uplift caused the rain to carve narrow, steep canyons through the sandstone.

We flew on to Monument Valley.

A number of the structures in Monument Valley were massive.

Another view of the flank of Navajo Mountain.

Monument Valley.

The Totem Pole and Yeh Bichii Rocks in Monument Valley.

A parting shot of Monument Valley with Navajo Mountain in the background.

We left Page and headed out to camp along the banks of Warm Creek on the north side of Lake Powell.  Recent rains had hosed the road forcing us to use the four wheel drive capability in crossing this ditch.

The road was eaten by the water leaving a steep arroyo in its place.  That is nasty clay mud there and we would have been stuck for sure.

This was a great trip.  Kathleen had fun, the dog had fun and nobody got hurt.

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 Copyright Bill Caid, 2013