Our original plan for this hike was to leave from Sowats Point, go down Ojojojo Canyon, go up Indian Hollow a ways, and camp for a few nights.  That would allow us to reach the top of Racetrack Knoll within the time allotted for this hike.  Since I had been thwarted on my two prior attempts to reach the top of Racetrack Knoll, I was hoping the old adage, "Three times is the charm," would apply.  It was not to be.  Heavy rain from hurricane Rachel last week caused road flooding and we were unable to drive to Sowats Point.  The only viable alternative we had was to start our hike from the head of Jumpup Canyon.  However, by doing that, we did not have enough time to reach Racetrack Knoll.  That meant our best option was to make Mountain Sheep Spring our base camp and do a series of loop day hikes from there.

     The drive to the head of Jumpup Canyon from Jacob Lake was straight forward on Forest Service Roads 461, 462, 22, 447, and 234.  It is a long, but easy walk from the cabin down Jumpup until coming to Sowats Canyon, except you do have to negotiate the ledges and ladder in lower Jumpup.  It's not too far up Sowats Canyon until reaching the camping spot, which is beside the cliff and adjacent to the last water at Mountain Sheep Spring.

     The camping spot at Mountain Sheep Spring is outstanding.  It is flat, shielded from rain, sun, and wind, and has easy access to water.  I can't think of many camping spots I have had that were better.

     The loop hike to the north of Mountain Sheep Spring makes for a nice day hike.  At just over five miles, it is not too long.  The ledges and ladder in lower Jumpup would be a little easier going up, but since we did the loop in a counter-clockwise direction, we did them twice going down.  There is some medium exposure going down the ledges and ladder, so this spot should not be taken lightly.

     Kwagunt Hollow is very pretty and a little easier going downhill.  There are two bypasses to get past waterfalls in the lower section.  Going downstream, the upper falls bypass in on creek right.  The lower falls bypass is on creek left, has some minor exposure, and is a steep descent to the creek bed.

     I'm embarrassed to say that I have now missed the exact entry into upper Ojojojo Canyon three times in a row.  The correct route is as follows:  Leaving the cottonwood trees at the base of the descent from Sowats Point, continue down Kwagunt on the south side of the creek.  You should pick up a distinct trail.  Follow this trail south through a notch in the hillside.  You then continue south on the trail at approximately the 4400' contour line.  The following series of six GPS waypoints will lead you down from the trail into Ojojojo Canyon:  

N 36 29.718' W 112 33.190'
N 36 29.683' W 112 33.262'
N 36 29.685' W 112 33.376'
N 36 29.673' W 112 33.468'
N 36 29.595' W 112 33.517'
N 36 29.504' W 112 33.823'

    All in all, the series of day hikes we did worked out well.  I was glad we got to hike upper Jumpup and that loop section north of Mountain Sheep Spring, including the ledges and ladder.  I have now formulated a new saying regarding any future attempts to reach the top of Racetrack Knoll:  "Four times is the charm."

     Numerous critters such as mice, ravens, squirrels, and ringtails are a threat to attack your food in the inner Canyon.  There are several types of food bag defenses against critter attacks.  I use one of the mesh stainless steel bags with a Velcro closure system.  Whichever product you choose, it is important to have one on your hikes.


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