Toroweep-Lava Falls

August 25, 1869- "Great Quanities of lava are seen on either side; andthen we come to an abrupt cataract. Just over the fall a cinder cone, orextinct volcano, stands on the very brink of the canyon. What a conflict ofwater and fire there must have been here! Just imagine a river of moltenrockrunning down into a river of melted snow. What a seething and boiling ofthewaters; what clouds of steam rolled into the heavens! "Thirty five miles today. Hurrah!" Powell ReportI was required to spend some business time in tinsel town, (Las Vegas) andtook the opportunity to visit old First Interstate friends Dan Mckimmey andAl Yates,and hook up with my friend James Cabanas for a weekend adventure.Dan Mac is legendary for his austere lifestyle. He holds the world recordforattending garage sales. He also knows of the cheapest restaraunts and tookAl and I to one sleezy Casino for the $4.95 steak dinner special. Since,Ipaid (again) I really appreciated this bargain of a meal.The next night I took my team to the Harrahs's Range steak house to restoremy taste buds. The Range is a great Nevada restaraunt and highlyrecommended.I Nailed my presentation and met James late Thursday afternoon for the 2hour drive to St. George, and close to 100 miles of backroads in theArizonastrip to Toroweep. Gerry was in San Diego for a conference so I had noproblem getting a weekend pass.We arrived at St George at 5:30P.M. and started our sojourn towards Mt.Trumball.I rented a high clearance four wheel drive and we needed it!Most of the drive was in the dark, but a full moon and excellent navigationfrom James got us there around 8:30P.M.That night we camped on the runway of Tuweep International Airport. Theairport terminal consists of a ramada and 2 picnic tables. There was awoodensign designating concourse C, we were the only travelors.The next morning we rose early to drive to the Lava falls trailhead. The"trail is only 1 1/4 miles from rim to river but drops 2700'. -very steepandtreacherous.! Lava falls rapids at the bottom.The descent was negotiated slowly and carefully, but the route consisted ofnothing but loose rock and scree. We spaced our distance from one anotherforabout 50'' and that decision prevented serious injury. I dislodged alargebolder that almost took out James.We fell a number of times and escaped injury until I slid into a jaggedrockthat put a nice punture in my right leg. Bandages would not stop thebleedingso we wrapped my bandanna around it and continued. I felt lucky that itwasn't broken.After a 20' bolder climb down we arrived at the river in just 2 hours. Thetemperature was in the high 90s and the rocks were extremely hot to thetouch.LAVA FALLS RAPID-North America's toughest whitewater. (8-10) drop 13'-measurement of main rapid only and does not include lower rapid 1/4 miledownstream.Just as we arrived a group of rafters and Kayaks were sighted. Great Luck!Not that many run the river in late October.The river runners got out at a beach and studied the water for close to anhour- and then-what a show! No one wiped out, a few close calls.This was great fun, but we had to start back up. The hike up was easier toget footholds but physically much more demanding.The low point was losing the route around 5 P.M. after 3 1/2 hours ofclimbing. Going up the wrong drainage could mean real trouble. We hadaboutan hour's daylight and little water. To add to the fun, I almost stepped onalarge rattlesnake. Fortunately it was not aggressive and just crawled undersome brush. After retracking, and scanning the countryside we finallypickedit up. The car! The car!Even though we were dehydrated we elected to down a couple of ice coldCervezas at the car. The best ever!That night we camped in the primitive campgrounds right at the edge of a3000' drop. My new Sierra Designs tent with duel doors allowed James tosleep with his head outside the tent. The combination of freeze driedLasagna, a lb.of peanuts and numerous Tecates was lethal.I do not have the words to describe the spectacular Toroweep overlook.Nothing that you have seen before can prepare you for this awesome view.The only sound was the wind rushing through the canyon and the distantroarof Lava Falls, some 3000 ft. below.This trip is rated a solid 10+. The "hike" is rated a 10 for it's uniquereward at the bottom but is given a -5 for the effort and risk factor.

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