ALL HIKERS

DAY 6: MILE 183 TO MILE 246.5, SPENCER CANYON

     Breakfast this morning is pancakes and bacon.  There are still a lot of lava flows in this part of the Canyon.  Some of the more interesting ones are cylindrical formations called Basalt Columnar Jointing.

Basalt Columnar Jointing
5-3-2012 @ 7:35
Basalt Columnar Jointing
5-3-2012 @ 7:35

     Our first stop of the day is the Whitmore Trail near mile 187.  Tom leads us on a short hike to some very well preserved Pictographs under a small ledge.  It's amazing that these paintings look this good after a thousand years.

   
  Tom at the Pictographs
5-3-2012 @ 7:50
 
Whitmore Pictographs
5-3-2012 @ 7:48
Whitmore Pictographs
5-3-2012 @ 7:49
Whitmore Pictographs
5-3-2012 @ 7:49

     We see a raft group camped just downstream, so Carolyn pulls over and gives them one of our extra prime ribs and some blocks of ice.

Oar raft group
5-3-2012 @ 8:40
Oar raft group
5-3-2012 @ 8:41

     We float by Pumpkin Spring at mile 213.  People used to swim in the spa-like enclosure until they found out that the water there is some of the most toxic in the Canyon.

   
  Pumpkin Spring
5-3-2012 @ 11:29
 

     Our next stop is Three Springs Canyon near mile 216.  We pass quite a variety of plants and flowers as we climb a small hill and descend to the creek below.

Buckhorn Cholla
5-3-2012 @ 11:58
Ocotillo
5-3-2012 @ 11:58
Barrel Cactus
5-3-2012 @ 12:00
Bushy Beadgrass
5-3-2012 @ 12:01
Crimson Monkeyflower
5-3-2012 @ 12:09
Buckley's Centaury
5-3-2012 @ 12:12

     Next to the creek is an indentation in the rock where the Anasazis ground their corn.  Overhead are Pictographs that apparently represent corn.

Corn grinding location
5-3-2012 @ 12:04
 
Pictographs
5-3-2012 @ 12:07

     Nearby is a very small waterfall and a frog clinging to the wall.  Tres promptly climbs into the waterfall to cool off.

Small waterfall
5-3-2012 @ 12:07
 
Frog
5-3-2012 @ 12:08
Tres cooling off
5-3-2012 @ 12:11

     Lunch is right across the River at mile 216.  It is very windy, so our crew tries to block some of the wind by setting up the table behind some bushes.  Lunch is turkey and ham sandwiches.

Parked for lunch
5-3-2012 @ 12:46
The lunch table
5-3-2012 @ 12:46

     This afternoon Carolyn lets several of the guys try their hand at driving the boat.  I did this on my first raft trip and it's a lot harder than it looks, but Carolyn makes it seem so easy.

Tim at the helm
5-3-2012 @ 1:37
Nick at the helm
5-3-2012 @ 1:55
Mike at the helm
5-3-2012 @ 2:09
John at the helm
5-3-2012 @ 2:14
Tres at the helm
5-3-2012 @ 2:20

     Diamond Peak is now in view.  Tom explains that the elevation at the top of it is the same as the elevation was at our starting point at Lee's Ferry.  We pass Diamond Creek at mile 225, where many of the boats and most of the rafts take out.

Diamond Peak
5-3-2012 @ 2:33
Diamond Creek
5-3-2012 @ 2:54
Diamond Creek
5-3-2012 @ 2:54

     Our next stop is Travertine Grotto at mile 229.  Water cascades down from a cave over some very slick rocks, forming a series of small waterfalls.  A rope helps to climb the slick rocks.  Then it's up a series of rope ladders.

Rope assist
5-3-2012 @ 3:24
Traci climbing the ladder
5-3-2012 @ 3:31
A second rope ladder
5-3-2012 @ 3:32
John and Jim
5-3-2012 @ 3:33
Inside the cave
5-3-2012 @ 3:34

     Once up the second ladder, it's just a short walk back to the far end of the cave and a magnificent waterfall.  Several people cool off in the water.

The cave waterfall
5-3-2012 @ 3:35
Jim in the cave waterfall
5-3-2012 @ 3:37
Craig at the cave waterfall
5-3-2012 @ 3:37
Skylar in the cave waterfall
5-3-2012 @ 3:37
Tim and Traci
5-3-2012 @ 3:38

     As we float downstream, Carolyn points out some fine examples of Fluting.  This is where a rock gets caught in a crevice, is spun around by the flow of the River, and starts drilling a hole down through the rock crevice.  Bigger rocks then get caught in the enlarged crevice and are in turn spun around, furthering the drilling.  Some of the holes are perfect cylinders. 

Fluting
5-3-2012 @ 4:15
Fluting
5-3-2012 @ 4:15

     We then pass a pretty waterfall on River left.

   
  Waterfall
5-3-2012 @ 4:17
 

     Mile 238 was the site for the second proposed dam in the Grand Canyon called Bridge Canyon Dam Site.  When that project was stopped in the 1960s, the site was abandoned with no cleanup whatsoever.  All their materials were just left on the hillside.

Bridge Canyon Dam Site
5-3-2012 @ 5:11
Bridge Canyon Dam Site
5-3-2012 @ 5:12

     Traci and Craig give us a detailed family history of their grandfather, Louis Schellbach, who was the Chief Naturalist at the Grand Canyon from 1941 to 1957.  Schellbach Butte, located near Haunted Canyon and Phantom Creek, is named after him.  Traci, Tim, and Craig have summited it.  Being an avid Grand Canyon hiker, I can tell you that is an amazing accomplishment.

     We then come to Separation Canyon near mile 239, the spot where three of John Wesley Powell's men left his first expedition, hiked out to the North Rim, and were killed.  Some historians believe they were killed by Shivwits Indians who mistakenly thought the group had killed an Indian woman.  Other historians believe they were killed by Mormons.  A plaque in their honor was later erected on the hillside.  On my first raft trip, there was a buoy here marking the division line between Grand Canyon National Park and Lake Mead National Recreation Area, but that is gone now. 

Separation Canyon
5-3-2012 @ 5:19
Separation Canyon
5-3-2012 @ 5:19

     We pull into Spencer Canyon, mile 246.5, for the night.  The nine guys from California have had a 30-year annual guy's get together called "Fear and Loathing" that sounds like a lot of fun.  Everyone has enjoyed their company.

   
  Fear and Loathing group
Tres, Ian, Tom, Skylar, John,
Nick, Dirk, Jim, and Rud
5-3-2012 @ 6:45
 

     Supper tonight is Mexican food with fajitas, tamales, and strawberry shortcake.  This week has gone by fast.

Spencer Canyon
5-3-2012 @ 7:36
Cooking dinner
5-3-2012 @ 7:36
Nearly a full moon
5-3-2012 @ 7:38

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