We were supposed to get away early this morning, but that is not happening. When I eventually get all my stuff packed and go down to say goodbye to the rafters, they offer to pick us up tomorrow morning just below Neville Rapids instead of at Papago Creek. That's OK with us as it saves us from having to hike from Neville Rapids over to Papago Creek.
We start the steep climb up to the main trail and soon pass the Hilltop Ruins we saw yesterday afternoon. The views of the Unkar Delta area are very good.
This section of the trail is about as easy as it gets: flat with no obstacles. However, that terrain at the south end of the trail looks pretty ugly. We will have to traverse that to the right in order to reach the ridge above Escalante Creek.
We find plenty of the usual desert type plants.
We also find some very nice flowers in this section.
Keith and I reach the south end of the trail and start the steep uphill climb back to the west. This section is rough with some small scrambles along the way. A few sections have minor exposure. We meet three guys who came down the New Hance and are going toward Cardenas Creek. We tell them about the friendly rafters there and the nice camp spot we just vacated.
About half-way to the top of the ridge, I am tired and ready for our lunch break, but Keith is ever the taskmaster, cracking the whip at any suggestion I have to stop. Finally, when we crest the ridge above Escalante Creek, he relents and I get to rest and have lunch. The views of the Unkar Delta upstream and Papago Creek downstream are the best we have on the entire hike. In just a few minutes, Shawn, one of the rafters from Cardenas Creek, rounds the corner doing an extended day hike.
After our break, the trail begins a rapid descent to the southeast until reaching Escalante Creek. We reach a small pour-off with some running water that we climb down. Then there is a bypass around a large pour-off that is non-negotiable.
The trail then continues its rapid descent all the way to the River. It's a shame to loose all this altitude and then have to climb up again to the trail.
After reaching the top of the trail, we turn into 75-Mile Canyon. We find more flowers on this section of the trail.
Just before reaching the back side of 75-Mile Canyon, we see the short-cut trail down to the creek bed. That looks pretty steep and I'm not sure I want to climb down that with my pack on. We decide to do a time test and see how long it takes us to get from the short-cut to the back side of 75-Mile Canyon. It takes exactly four minutes. Keith and I carefully walk down the white rock pour-off at the end and start down the bed of 75-Mile Creek.
We soon reach the short-cut and spend a few minutes examining it. We decide that any small savings by using that would be more than offset by its increased risk and having to hand your packs down. There's one more big chock-stone to get past and then a lot of walking down the creek bed to Neville Rapids.
We find some very nice campsites on the beach a few hundred yards downstream. The first thing we do is fill three Platypus containers with River water to allow the sediment to settle to the bottom. Those containers are right behind Keith's tent.
After about an hour, we filter one quart of water from the top of each Platypus container and then leave them in place for more filtering tomorrow morning. The rafters told us they would meet us here tomorrow morning at 9:30, so we do not have to be in any rush then. Our plan tomorrow is to go up the New Hance Trail and camp either just below or just above the Redwall.
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