Bob and Keith drive up about 9:45 and I take them to Sowats Point at the top of the hill next to the parking lot.  The view from here is quite good of Indian Hollow, Kwagunt Hollow, Sowats Canyon, and the Esplanade.  We find a Geological Survey marker with a date of 1953, which apparently is when this area was surveyed.    

Sowats Point sign
10-2-2008 @ 10:01
Geological Survey marker
10-2-2008 @ 10:02
View down to the Esplanade
10-2-2008 @ 10:06

     Then it's back to the parking lot where we start getting ready for our hike.  Our plan today is to go all the way to Mountain Sheep Spring.  The trailhead sign indicates the official name of this trail is the Jumpup-Nail Trail.  This obviously is a very popular area as the parking lot is filled.

Jumpup-Nail trailhead sign
10-2-2008 @ 10:34
The trailhead parking lot
10-2-2008 @ 10:35
Bob and Keith at the parking lot
10-2-2008 @ 10:50

     We start down a little before 11:00.  Right away I find some flowers in bloom near the start of the trail.  At the base of the first descent, we reach an unusually nice Forest Service sign.

Globe Mallow flowers
10-2-2008 @ 10:52
National Forest sign
10-2-2008 @ 11:11

     The trail then levels out and begins to loop around to the north for about a mile before plunging straight down a series of switchbacks to the Esplanade.  Our first destination is a bunch of cottonwood trees at the head of Kwagunt Hollow on the Esplanade.

The trail on a level stretch
10-2-2008 @ 11:16
Looking down on the Esplanade
10-2-2008 @ 11:38
The view back to the rim
10-2-2008 @ 12:08

     I pull into the Cottonwood trees a little after noon.  Bob and Keith arrive about ten minutes later.  Bob immediately proclaims just how much he enjoyed descending the steep switchbacks.  We are surprised that we can't find a good spot at the trees to rest or sit, so we make do the best we can while having lunch.

10-2-2008 @ 12:09
Cottonwood trees at the base of the descent
10-2-2008 @ 12:12

     After lunch we continue down the trail, find a cairn marking an intersection, and take the right branch that goes to the north across the Esplanade.  The trail is generally level and the walking is pretty easy.  In a little while, we come to some Cryptobiotic soil that you should avoid walking on.

The Esplanade
10-2-2008 @ 1:22
The trail across the Esplanade
10-2-2008 @ 1:36
Cryptobiotic soil
10-2-2008 @ 1:39

     I am surprised to find this many plants and flowers in bloom in October.

Fetid Marigold
10-2-2008 @ 1:15
Beehive/Barrel Cactus
10-2-2008 @ 1:29
Tansyleaf Aster
10-2-2008 @ 1:49

     A little later, we find some interesting black fungus on some rocks.

  An interesting black fungus
10-2-2008 @ 1:57

     About an hour and a half after lunch, we start the descent into Sowats Canyon, which requires some light scrambling.  The creek bed of Sowats Canyon is gravel and cobblestones, so the walking is fairly easy.

Approaching Sowats Canyon
10-2-2008 @ 2:26
Descending into Sowats Canyon
10-2-2008 @ 2:42
Creek bed in Sowats Canyon
10-2-2008 @ 3:09

     Another half-hour and we reach Mountain Sheep Spring.  We are all surprised with the large amount of water flowing from the spring.  There is a nice area for camping right beside the creek.

Mountain Sheep Spring
10-2-2008 @ 3:31
Richard's tent the first night
10-2-2008 @ 4:02
Bob's and Keith's tents
10-2-2008 @ 4:02

     This entire area is very pretty.  I never expected the creek bed to suddenly go from being bone dry to having this much water.

Water from Mountain Sheep Spring
10-2-2008 @ 4:27
Water from Mountain Sheep Spring
10-2-2008 @ 4:27

     Our plan tomorrow is to continue down Sowats Canyon until reaching Jumpup Canyon, then go down Jumpup past Kwagunt Hollow and Indian Hollow until we reach Kanab Creek, and finally go upstream in Kanab Creek about a half-mile until we reach the "Hidden Pool."


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