What an awesome day!
Today’s excursion was a 14(ish) mile out & back to the confluence of the Little Colorado River & the Colorado River. When I went to bed last night I swear the plan was for only Oakes to take his pack with our water, and the rest of us would bring our lunch & snacks in pockets/fanny packs … there was no need to bring anything else since we were leaving out camp set up for tonight. When we loaded up to go, however, I was the only one w/out a pack—the others all decided to bring theirs. I felt like kind of a sandbagger all day not having a pack, but not enough that I felt the need to shoulder one!
We left right at sunup to take maximum advantage of cool morning air. We were following along the river, so once we got up on the ridge, there were no big climbs or descents. What we did have, however, was a seemingly endless number of small side canyons created by run-off erosion into the river. Each of these little canyons had short, but ridiculously steep & rocky descents and then climb-outs—frequently terrifyingly close to the edge of several-hundred-foot drop-offs. Oakes estimated about a million of these mini-canyons; Whippet thought maybe a few less. We counted them on the way out and it turns out there were 32 … but it felt closer to a million!
Despite the endless treacherous climbs, the shade from the Canyon walls made for a really pleasant morning hike. We hit the confluence about 1100, and it was totally worth the effort—the Little Colorado River is an incredible turquoise color, unlike any river I’ve ever seen. Apparently the large amounts of travertine and limestone in the water make it look so blue … whatever the cause, it’s really cool!
After reaching the confluence, we hiked a bit further up-river to check out the Beamer Cabin made of rocks & built into a rock Canyon ledge (The Beamer Trail was named for Ben Beamer, a farmer and miner who tried–unsuccessfully–to grow crops and live near the mouth of the Little Colorado in the 1890s). We took a group photo in front of the cabin, and headed down to a small beach area for lunch & a dip in the river. The water was quite a bit colder than I was expecting, but really refreshing, especially after a 5 hour hike.
After laying about in the river for a bit, and eating lunch, we explored the area and then headed back. The return trip along the exposed trail was considerably hotter, and therefore less pleasant, but not too unbearable, thanks to a good breeze and a few shadowed areas tucked back in some of the side canyons. It was kinda fun to see a flotilla of river rafts on the Colorado while we were hiking back — we were a little jealous of their cushy (and cooler) accommodations, but we also felt just a little superior knowing we were moving through the Canyon under our own power. 😉
We got back to camp just in time for a little cleanup in the (much colder) Colorado River and then cocktails. I could really get used to wine in a bonafide chair at the end of a long hiking day—I may need to add both to my standard hiking gear list!
I’m completely bushed, and nodding off as I write … the best kind of tired!
Tomorrow we’ll head back to Tanner Rapids before climbing out on Friday.