South Canyon

The latest adventure trip into the Grand Canyon proved to be the mostdifficult physical and mental challenge that I have negotiated. This wasthetoughest fourteen miles traveled by El Lobo. His paws are still very sore.I WILL ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY STAY OUT OF THE CANYON IN THE SUMMER!!!!!!!After doing rim to rim in July a number of years ago I should have knownbetter!!The temperature at the bottom was 108. We arrived in an extremelydehydratedstate and immediately dropped Into the Colarado.The water was an icy 48.Thebeach was like being in a furnace as the winds served up scorching air thatbounced off the hot walls of the canyon.Our destination was South Canyon, --Vasces Paradise at mile 32 of theColorado.Vasces Paradise is a gushing round waterfall surrounded by vines that comesout the middle of a layer in the Canyon wall. The water is over 1000 yearsold.We took a back road in the Vermillion Cliffs area called Buffaloe ranch for24miles to the trailhead?????My partner, Steve Yahner whom got the backcountry permit has been downthere3 other times, and twice his expedition partners took a ride out withRiverrunners to Phantom ranch because they were dehydrated and could not getbackout. Steve is a graduate of the Grand Canyon Institute's most difficultprogram and is a wild animal. He has difficulty finding anyone crazyenoughto go with him on his challenging expeditions. I went with him not knowingthat this particular route required expert outdoor skills and unlimitedstamina. El Lobo was again seduced by the Canyon.The descent is 2725', with the first 2000 going straight down. No traverseshere. We had to rope our packs 6 times. The next 6+ miles was boulderhoppingand scrambling down drainage. We ended up rimlocked twice and had to doubleback. On the way down I lost one water bottle and shredded my Mountainsmithinternal frame pack. I also had my watch ripped off and lost. The internalframe was not a good choice for this type of trip as it stayed flush on myback and my shirt was totally drenched. I also overpacked for this trip andcursed myself for the needless extra 5 to 8 lbs that put me carrying closeto50lbs. To really make things tough on myself I wore newly resoled bootsthatleft less foot space and infected two toes, constantly jamming them goingdown.After 6 miles, With only a 1/2 mile to go the drainage is obstructed bythreegiant boulders 20' to 25' not allowing passage unless you can climb overthem.A flash flood placed these little gems in our path. We did not attempt tonegotiate them and went back up and over to get to the river. This was anexrta 2 mile climb up and down and almost did us in.On day two we both spent the day resting and rehydrating, trying to putbackas much liquid as possible. We also ate as much salty stuff as we could putdown. At least the water from the river was nice and cold. The Colorado wasabeautiful pure green. It does not go brown with Silt until the littleColoradopours into it with its residue. We also scouted out Boulders 1 & 2 andaftermuch deliberation, decided to risk going out that way the followingmorning.In the afternoon some river runners stopped and invited us to dinner withthemif we would share our beach. They offered us a cold beer and I wanted itsooooo bad but could not put anything into my system that would cause anyfurther dehydration.We did enjoy a nice dinner and conversation with the river people.That evening while gazing at the stars I fought off thoughts that I mightnever see Gerry and Lucy again.The next day we started at first light and climbed over the first boulder.Steve would go first and then we would rope up and hoist the packs, then Iwould go. These little climbs required rockclimbing skills that I simply donot have but it is amazing what you can do and what small holes you canfinda finger grip to lift yourself over when you have to. Boulder 1 wentwithoutincident but Boulder two was completed at the expense of a severelystrainedYahner back. Steve pulled it out while hoisting one of the packs. The lastBoulder was a nice surprise as it was inverse and put us in the position ofpossibly being trapped as going back would be extremely difficult and loseusprecious time that would be spent in the midday sun. Steve got over and Iwasleft with no choice but to use every bit of strength left and pull and liftmyself over. All the time invested working with weights and improving myupperbody strength provided me with my finest ROI. Steve gave me a hardy embraceand I felt like beating my fists on my chest but didn't waste theenergy.Guything.His leadership and coaching really helped.When we finally finished the drainage and looked up at our ascent it lookedimpossible. It was now 100 out. Giving the choice of getting out orfrydyingmade it easier to psyche myself up and take care of business. We knockedoffthe climb in thirds. I have never sucked so much deep air as I did in thathour and a half. Every few yards would require a short rest trying to catchmybreath. All things must pass and we completed the last segment ratherroutinely.After a long rocky ride back to Marble Canyon we stopped there andshoweredand slowly drank a half Gallon of cold Dr. Pepper. Enjoyed a great lunchatthe Marble Canyon lodge----- Burger, fries, and Chocolate Shake. Reallyfeltgood about this one. It made the Boucher loop pale in comparison.EL LOBO WILL GO BACK IN THE FALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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