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Grand Gulch

 
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azhiker96





Joined: 05 Jan 2003
Posts: 1419

PostPosted: 9/1/2015, 1:03 pm    Post subject: Grand Gulch Reply to topic Reply with quote

Traveled to Cedar Mesa to do a loop hike in Grand Gulch. The ranger station is closed but there are self pay envelopes at the trailheads. Rates are cheap, $2/day or $5 for 7 days. I only had $20s so the park got a nice donation.

The plan was to park at Kane Gulch ranger station and enter thru Kane Gulch. I had supplies for 4 days but planned on 3 days and 2 nights. I carried 4 liters of water and had my pump to purify more. exit would be thru Bullet Canyon.

Water was hit or miss. This time of year they are getting scattered afternoon/evening thunderstorms. I found several pools in Kane Gulch and occasional water in Grand Gulch. I missed a pool in Bullet canyon by a few hundred feet by taking a wrong turn which ended my hike and changed the adventure. More on that later.

The trail in Kane Gulch was pretty clear although washed out in places due to frequent flash floods. Lizards and toads were abundant as well as lots of deer tracks. There is a huge multi-structure cliff dwelling site where Kane and Grand Gulch meet.

Archaeology is the main appeal to Grand Gulch. There are several main sites listed on the map. I saw at least 3 times as many that were not listed. Several graineries still had a few small corn cobs scattered around. The sites range from barely recognizable to nearly intact. Please respect sites, take only pictures and be careful not to trod on artifacts.

The trail through Grand Gulch ranged from obvious to barely discernible to non-existent. For much of it I used the creek bottom which also appeared to be a favorite highway for bear, deer, racoon, and coyote. I saw a lot of bear sign but no bears which suited me fine.

There is apparently a sizable black bear population in the area. I saw several respectable piles of scat and many tracks. I hoped to see a bear until I saw a print the size of my hand. A mile later I saw bear prints the size of bobcat prints which meant a cub was around. That's when I started singing songs and talking out loud to myself. If I met a bear, it was not going to be by accident.

I also found a nice sturdy walking stick which was very handy for probing thick grasses and other vegetation that sometimes obscured the trail. I would rather disturb a snake with a stick than with my foot. Although I saw lots of mice, bunnies, and toads I never saw a single snake.

I camped about 8 miles in on the first night. I kept a clean camp and hung my supplies from a tree. There was a short hard rain just after sunset and I slept off and on through the night as I wondered if I'd have any visitors.

The next morning I was up early and had coffee and breakfast before light reached my area of the canyon. By the time I was packed it was light enough to see and I started on down, checking the lay of the canyon against my map and timing the miles. The poor trail conditions dropped my pace down to about 1.5 - 2 miles per hour.

Whenever I found a fairly clean pool I'd stop and top off my water. The final topping was at a pour off shortly after starting in the morning. After pumping to fill my bottles I pumped another liter straight into my mouth. Although I wasn't thirsty it's an easy way to carry an extra liter. From Pour off Pool the bottom become very sandy and I didn't see more water.

There is a lot of shade in the Gulch and it was cool so I had only used half my water by the time I reached Bullet Canyon. I paused at a large cottonwood and considered my options. From that point I was only 7.2 miles to the trailhead and with cool temps the two liters should be enough even if I didn't find any water sources.

I started up the canyon but once again the trail was faint at best. I did see some faint boot prints every now and then were old and would disappear with the trail. Part way up the canyon I took a wrong turn and got sucked into a feeder canyon.

I checked the canyon against my map and could not find it. Then I climbed up on a point to get a better view. Although I could see several other possible route I could not figure out where I was and thus didn't know which way to go.

I considered re-tracing my steps but could easily use up my water without finding a good route or a water source. It was not an easy choice but after 15 minutes of deliberation and map checking I hit the "Help" button on my SPOT.

That button sent a message to my wife and daughter saying I need help and please call the Monticello Sheriff's department for SAR. The message includes that phone number also.

I then spread a highly reflective space blanket on a prominent boulder and placed small rocks to hold it in place. I placed my pack on another boulder, then took my water and retired to some nearby shade to wait.

Because of the remote location, a helicopter was sent for me. The flight crew was nice and were also relieved that I was not injured or dead, just lost and short on water. One funny point is the flight crew did not know the location of the ranger station. I offered them my map which allowed them to find it.
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It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. -- Carl Sagan
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azhiker96





Joined: 05 Jan 2003
Posts: 1419

PostPosted: 9/1/2015, 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Interesting side note. The SPOT kept resending coordinates every 5 minutes. The coordinates appeared to change although my pack was stationary. I figure echo signals off the canyon walls were affecting it.
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It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. -- Carl Sagan
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sherileeaz





Joined: 12 Jun 2003
Posts: 874

PostPosted: 9/12/2015, 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Very nice write up on your adventure. Glad all went well! Thanks for sharing. Sheri
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wanderingsoul





Joined: 19 Jul 2004
Posts: 2285
Location: Gilbert AZ

PostPosted: 9/20/2015, 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Sounds like you had quite an interesting adventure. Sorry things got turned around for you, but Glad you made it out Safe and Sound
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Wanderingsoul (Michelle)

Positive Thinking Is the Spark that Makes Dreams Happen~~~Unknown
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Trishness
The Snake Charmer




Joined: 21 Sep 2003
Posts: 2530
Location: Apache Jct, AZ

PostPosted: 9/30/2015, 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Great write up George....It's a beautiful and remote area! Glad you made it out OK. SPOT is awesome.

Michelle and I hiked Kane Gulch on our Utah trip back to the GG in 2008 I think. We saw some prints in the sand that looked like big cat. Michelle....remember the two old guys Smile We tried going down Bullet Canyon that same year but yikes that was really scary steep and we were carrying all our water so we turned around.
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~~~Trish~~~

"Eastward the dawn rose, ridge behind ridge into the morning, and vanished out of eyesight into guess; it was no more than a glimmer blending with the hem of the sky, but it spoke to them, out of the memory and old tales, of the high and distant mountains." J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of The Rings.
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