ALL HIKERS

DAY 2: SURPRISE VALLEY TO LOWER TAPEATS

     Keith and I decide to have breakfast at Thunder River, so we pack our gear and head downhill.  The descent is very steep.  The views of Thunder River as we approach it are stunning.

Beginning the descent
10-10-2014 @ 7:50
Approaching Thunder River
10-10-2014 @ 8:00
Approaching Thunder River
10-10-2014 @ 8:07

     We take the short turnoff to Thunder River, get out our cooking gear, and have a leisurely breakfast.  That was very pleasant.  Then it's time for a few pictures.  The amount of water coming out of the hillside is astounding.  Click here for a short video of Thunder River.

Keith at Thunder River
10-10-2014 @ 9:41
Richard at Thunder River
10-10-2014 @ 9:43

     Just as we are getting ready to leave, a few hikers from a group of eleven coming uphill pull in.  We talk a little and discover that these three ladies live very near Keith in Tennessee.  They are headed up to the Esplanade for the night.  It's already mid-morning and pretty warm, so they have gotten a very late start.  I don't envy them having to cross Surprise Valley and climb the Redwall in the afternoon heat.

   
  Fellow Tennessee hikers
10-10-2014 @ 9:54
 

     We leave Thunder River and continue downhill.  It is a lot farther to the bottom than I remembered.  Fortunately, the walking surface of the trail improves on the lower sections. 

Looking down
10-10-2014 @ 10:05
Looking up
10-10-2014 @ 10:07
Keith on the trail
10-10-2014 @ 10:11

     We stop for a break where the trail passes close to Thunder River.  Keith uses his filter straw for a little drink.  We then meet the other half of the group we saw up where we had breakfast.  They have really gotten a late start to just be leaving camp this late in the morning.

Thunder River
10-10-2014 @ 10:39
Keith using a filter straw
10-10-2014 @ 10:31
Crimson Monkey Flower
10-10-2014 @ 10:39

     On the section of the trail just before the bottom, we pass an area with numerous cactus.

Prickly Pear Cactus
10-10-2014 @ 10:42
Barrel Cactus
10-10-2014 @ 10:45
Barrel Cactus
10-10-2014 @ 10:45
Barrel Cactus
10-10-2014 @ 10:50
Lichen
10-10-2014 @ 10:50
Beehive Cactus
10-10-2014 @ 2:49

     At the bottom, we turn south and pass the campsites right by the creek.  After the last campsite, we start looking for an easy way to cross Tapeats Creek.  When we reach the Tapeats section shown below without finding an easy crossing, we realize we should have crossed the creek up by the campsites.  The trail on this side of the creek goes through this Tapeats section about half-way up.  That looks down right dangerous.  I can't imagine that anyone would go this way anymore.

Trail through the Tapeats
10-10-2014 @ 12:08
Trail through the Tapeats
10-10-2014 @ 12:08

     Keith and I decide to cross the creek at the first reasonable opening we find.  The water is running very swiftly about knee deep, so we take off our boots and put on our Crocs.  The knee deep water level is probably about the highest level that one could safely cross.  Even at this depth, it's a challenge to keep from being pulled over into the water.  It would have been safer for us to hold hands when crossing for increased stability.  I can see why experienced hikers discourage people from attempting a spring crossing of the creek when the water level would presumably be higher.

Keith crossing Tapeats Creek
10-10-2014 @ 2:17
Richard crossing Tapeats Creek
10-10-2014 @ 2:19

     Once safely on the other side, we dry our feet and put our boots back on.  There is an established trail on this side of the creek that we take.  However, there is still a little scrambling in a few areas involving some up-climbs and down-climbs.  We then reach the place where the trail crosses back over to the west side of the creek.  That requires us to take off our boots again and cross the creek wearing our Crocs.  After that, the trail remains fairly level while Tapeats Creek descends rapidly.  The result is that we are soon quite high above the creek bed.

Keith on the trail
10-10-2014 @ 2:47
Heading down stream
10-10-2014 @ 2:47
Heading down stream
10-10-2014 @ 2:47

     As we approach the Colorado River, the trail makes an abrupt, nearly vertical descent down to Tapeats Creek.  There is a marked difference in the clarity of the clear Tapeats Creek and the muddy Colorado River.  At the confluence, we meet a raft group member washing clothes.  She invites us down to their camp just around the corner.

High above the Colorado River
10-10-2014 @ 3:00
Making a brutal descent
10-10-2014 @ 3:13
Tapeats Creek - Colorado River
10-10-2014 @ 3:41

     Keith and I set up camp in a very nice spot and then wander around the corner to the rafter's campsite.  Who knows, maybe we'll score a beer.

Keith's tent at Lower Tapeats
10-10-2014 @ 4:18
Richard's tent at Lower Tapeats
10-10-2014 @ 4:20

     This is a very friendly raft group, most of whom are from Oregon.  We talk a while and get a picture of those who are here in camp.  They agree to give us a raft ride tomorrow morning down to Deer Creek Falls.  That beats having to hike all the way there.

   
  The friendly raft group
10-10-2014 @ 4:53
 

     As we are getting ready to head back to our camp, the rafters give each of us a beer.  SWEET!!

Our empty beer cans
10-10-2014 @ 5:12
Richard at the kitchen
10-10-2014 @ 5:45

     We finish our beer back at camp.  Since we are meeting the rafters tomorrow morning at 8:00, we agree to get up a little early so as to not be late.

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