“Like a Rock, I’m going to roll over you”
Rock N’ Roll over you-Moody Blues –1986
Indian Maid Route (rim to Little Colorado)
Estimated distance: 1 mile. Total estimated elevation gain: 2000 feet
Be afraid, be very afraid.
After a good night of climbing at the Phoenix Rock Gym, Zo Dingo and I met at our Tempe after climb hang out. Over margaritas and cervezas we worked out the final details for our Saturday adventure trip to the Little Colorado River Gorge at the Grand Canyon .In December, Dingo had climbed the Indian Maid route down cliffs and through cracks with a couple of Grand Canyon warriors. He was confident that he could negotiate the maze of back roads on the Navajo reservation, locate our entry point and find the passage to the river. Zo was enthusiastic. The posted cerveza special for Sabado was Rolling Rock. This was not a good sign.
I was concerned, very concerned. After all, this looked like a class five free climb with no safety devices. The pictures and the description clearly reflected a very steep, dangerous, route with much potential for rock fall and exposure. In addition, this drop drains a large area on the mesa top when rain could turn the passage into a flash flood death trap.
Why was I going? I had cashed in my chips and gotten out of the business of extreme canyoneering. This adrenaline junkie went through treatment and was cured.
Needing a little comfort, I went home and wolved down two large pieces of chocolate cake and an ice cream sandwich before going to bed. Those guys are crazy! I’m not going.
We left my house Sabada manana at five A.M. equipped with four Jerky Boys CDs.
It would be a long ride and needed some intellectual stimulation. Personal growth is always a side benefit on these trips.
After three hours we were slowly driving through a thick layer of fog on Highway 89. This was not a good sign. Fifteen miles into the Navajo outback, visibility was zero and we did not have a clue as to our location. And then, Wallah! The fog lifted and we had a magnificent view of the snow capped rim. This was a good sign! Or, was it? The snow on the rim probably meant wet rock below.
We passed a Hogan, Dingo recognized the landmarks and was able to follow his road log to the point of entry.
We walked down a dry wash and reached a steep pour off. I looked down the 500’ sheer drop off and casually screamed “ No *@**&%ing way! The Dingo man just smiled and headed West to a steep narrow crack. Zo gleefully followed. Here we descended into the abyss. All the rock was crumbly and you could not trust any hand holds or foot plants. The crack gradually widened where we down climbed over rubble and boulders through steep ravines. We constantly heard falling rock sounds. We descended long and safe distances apart, but as careful as we were, each of us dislodged dangerous boulders that crashed below.
We found some interesting petroglyphs and pot shards on the Coconino layer.
With the benefit of Dingo’s route experience, it took us just two hours to reach the LCR. ( Little Colorado River) It had taken Dingo and his group four hours in December.
The river was running thick with silt and mud from recent rains and looked like gooey Hershey’s chocolate syrup.
We took a break for lunch and took in the solitude in this stark environment. The LCR Gorge is sixty miles from Cameron to the confluence with the Colorado. We were in the middle section. I know of a few that have packed through the gorge.
It is a long lonely journey dealing with quicksand and water issues. Blue Springs is about ten miles down stream. The water there is salty but filterable.
Sala, si usted puede (Get out, if you can)
Dingo and Zo wanted to do a little exploration down stream but they indulged my desire to return without delay. Although physically a lot more demanding, the climb out went smoothly and was a lot of fun. Having route knowledge and in better climbing control went a long ways towards having fun. It took us less than two hours to climb out, again half the time that it took the previous group.
Our cerveza celebration at the rim quickly ended when a couple of Navajos came out of now where in an all terrain vehicle. They were not happy and wanted to know what we were doing there. When we told them that we had climbed down to the river, they looked at us in disbelief. When I mentioned the Indian Maid route they told us we were lost.
They said that over the years they had seen some cars on the rim in Marble canyon and could not understand what anyone would be doing down there.
Once they were convinced that we were not rustling their livestock, they relaxed a bit, and then bid us a friendly farewell. They sped off in search of a lost cow.
On the way out we saw a huge herd of sheep and the attendant sheep herding dog.
The dog saw our vehicle and immediately set chase to escort us away from the herd. Good boy!
We stopped for dinner at Black Canyon City at a café famous for their pie and arrived at my house close to 8:00 P.M.
I rate this adventure a solid 10. It was well planned and executed. Thanks to Dingo and Zo for the time we shared, there are not two better guys to explore with.
Men Behaving Badly:
Dingo Dan for wearing the same Hawaiian dirt shirt and Islands baseball cap yet again. (532 straight outings)
Dingo Dan for again excitedly reminiscing about another old kinky girlfriend.
Dingo Dan for getting very excited when he saw the herd of sheep.
Zo for wearing “girlie” tights under his hiking pants
Zo for his insensitive remark “Lobo you are one rotten dude”
Lobo for his tremendous wind breaking virtuosity in the crack.