After a little consideration, we abandon Tapeats as a layover spot, (we've all done a layover here before, there are a lot of people walking through our camp, camp is full of red ants, no shade whatsoever...) and, after breakfast, launch into Tapeats rapid. After the rapid, Jennifer takes off her lifejacket and discovers a nasty little straw colored scorpion in it. We consign it to a watery death, thanking our lucky stars that it didn't sting her. These babies are lethal and their sting means a serious stop and perhaps an evacuation via helo. As we float down to Deer Creek Falls, we pass by the Christmas tree cave in which our marrying friends from Seattle are spending time. Everybody goes for a swim at Deer Creek and I try to get in under the hurricane blast that the plummeting water makes as it hits the pool from hundreds of feet above us. No matter what I do the blast is too much.
Deer Creek gushes out Deer Creek bathers
As Charley and Pam take a few photos, we stop to talk with an 82 year old woman who is celebrating her birthday under a sunshade on the beach just below the falls. The crowds thicken, we get back into our boats and drift down a short distance to stop at Pancho's Kitchen for lunch. We are interrupted here by the dory driver staking out a claim to the beach for his group, but only after asking if we were going to take it. Good place to camp; remember this spot.
rock formations at Pancho's Find a cool spot Pam & Charley at Kanab
After admiring a most cheerful and shady place, we finish lunch and float down to Kanab Creek where we throw our gear onto the beach, set up the chairs in the river to cool down from the blazing hot day and go to work drinking wine and watching the sun set downstream. It is blazing hot. Charley calls the mouth of the Kanab "a blast furnace" which is quite possibly appropriate. That evening, we cook dinner and make plans for morning hikes and a layover day.
We get up early in the morning to hike up Kanab canyon to see the horsetail falls. Charley and Willy have already left, Rebecca and the girls have fun swimming in the numerous pools along the way and we hike through a variety of canyon floor situations, boulder hopping, finding our way along the cliff strata, feeling the warm sand at our feet as we do some beach walking, wading through Kanab creek in hip deep shallows balancing our knapsacks on our heads. After about five miles, we meet up with Charley and Willy at a side canyon. They make various cryptic comments about "stone falls" and a small pool that "might be OK" to hang out in... After turning the corner and going only a short distance, it appears that the side canyon is a dry one and we turn back. We never get to the right falls but linger to swim going back down the creek and occasionally meet other visitors to Kanab's pools. Martha walks about an hour and a half behind us and lingers after we have begun our return.
It seems that we are in a crowded but beautiful section of the river corridor, but we are really only camped at another popular attraction. Pam stays behind and does not hike, it looks like she did some wash. Her gear is over under the tammis kind of protected from the bright rays of the sun, looks like she must have been baked. Gerry reports that the heat was intense but he managed to sleep through a lot of it. After getting back from the hike, it is impossible not to take a plunge in the Colorado to cool off. It is hot here at Kanab. Fish are crowding the mouth of Kanab Creek kind of balancing between the cool Colorado and the much warmer creek. Georgia and Jennifer smear each other with mud again and roll in the mouth of the creek.
We definitely should leave before the sun really gets going, yet people are still chased out of their bags by old mister sun. We manage a respectable morning leave taking; not too fast but not too slow either. Passing up a close look at Olo canyon, we pull into the small eddy that guards the entrance to Matkatamiba canyon, tie our rafts up and make the initial climb along the striated cliff to look at Matkat without, as it happens, any spare film.
Matkat sliding technique
After taking a warm up shot of the Georgia schussing from pool to pool on the gray rock canyon floor, I discover that my film has been used up and that Charley has managed the same situation by accidentally rewinding his film while showing Willy how the remote control works. Rats!
This beautiful little side-canyon is yet another special place, an ideal living room if your home could have a canyon floor for its main living area. A gray rock bowl with some shrubbery and foliage separating the inner reaches from the wider and more grandiose main foyer, Matkatamiba is secluded from the river and sheltered a great deal of the day from the summer sun. The floor of the canyon appears to be divided conscientiously into several levels, each with its own particular focus. You could throw a party and invite up to 150 guests and chances are that in going from one group to another one could be almost sure that this was an intimate soiree where the background level never would get above the burbling noise provided by the stream that wanders along the rock floor, down through the levels, slowly cutting its way to reach the Colorado River. We tour as best we can and imagine what a great place this was for the wedding ceremony a few days ago.
After leaving Matkat, we float down stream to make camp on a ledge at mile 155, river right. Light rain has fallen since lunch and the water also appears to be coming up, so after derigging and setting up the kitchen, some of our party figure that we could have gone down to the next ledge camp that reportedly has a spring. We'll check it out next morning as we pass by. That evening, we fire up the charcoal and get things ready for dinner. As the Mex DO cooks, Willy and I work on preparing the noodle lunch that has been put off for a few days. While straining the pasta in the colander, we slip up and drop some noodles in the wash bucket but retrieve them and no one's the wiser. Didn't taste like soap, besides it was biodegradable soap, wasn't it?
As we are beginning to serve dinner, we sight the old Shoshone/Havasu boat group floating past us as they look for a place to make camp late in the day. Light rain continues to fall as evening comes on, Rebecca is "so glad" that the tent is up, small comforts can mean a lot. The wind gently puffs the sides of the tent out like a huge set of lungs. I slice the tent floor with a sharp rock when I try to add some ballast to keep it earth-bound. Double rats!
We launch shortly after breakfast and arrive at the mouth of Havasu at about 11 AM, tying up our flotilla in the innermost rock walled reaches of Havasu Creek. In the creek's weak current bob the two older Campways we had seen yesterday evening plus a contingent of commercial boater types inhabiting their craft, from baloney boats to large Avons. Promising a more limited stroll up Havasu than we would really like, we leave Gerry and Willy to float in place, watching our gear and probably setting up to swap stories and beer with some of the guides who don't feel the lure of Havasu. We walk up the creek only a little ways, timing ourselves so that we are back at the boats by 3:30. We find that Willy has traded some pecans and stuff for more cooking oil to support our desired diet of evening cake. We float on downstream trying hard to recognize the ledge camp that we shared so many years ago on our first Canyon trip. Hard to do at this fractional water flow. Ten miles later, we row ashore to scout upper National and decide to make camp here at mile 166 1/2, a real good place to hang out. Nice sandy beaches and a meeting place for several rather large canyons. As dinner progresses, the boat boys begin to arrange their loads for Lava, the big one coming at us tomorrow! Willy starts filling the various sandbags that will festoon the bow of his small Adventurer to properly "trim" his craft. We still have a little wine and some beer! Stargazing...
We launch after a lengthy and more rigorous tie down, anxious to do Lava, and get there in time to see the last boat in the Seattle group launch and flip. Rebecca and the girls walk the rapid and Rebecca photographs the various runs. After we are all through, Rebecca and the girls hike the arduous trail down to the foot of the rapid. The runs were all successful in that nobody emerged upside down, although I tried to, taking several big flipper waves almost sideways. I was knocked down into the cockpit area and only got up to get knocked down again. Gerry had a great run, running the right lateral vee waves perfectly at their center. Charley told me that he went up onto the black rock for just a moment, it was a fast ride. I met him and Pam in an eddy at the foot of Lava. We bailed for what seemed like half an hour. Both of us went further left than we had intended. I managed to punch the baby Niagara and get shot sideways right into the laterals, and Charley, who wound up on Black Rock, followed me through. Willy ran last and had a near perfect run, almost shooting the slot but chickening out at the last minute. He did OK. The baloney boat people gave us all a round of applause as we passed by.
We float many miles to make camp at Whitmore Wash. Jennifer presided over a great Mexican dinner that evening that featured masa used as a corn bread filling in a DO casserole with peppers, enchilada sauce, beans and cheese. It was a great after-Lava meal.
© 1996 Michael Dooley