GC2003_150_MatKat
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This year's trip involved hiking down One Hundred and Fifty Mile Canyon or "SOB Canyon" as some call it, crossing the river in between Matkatamiba Rapids and Upset Rapids, and then hiking to Matkatamiba Canyon.

Group:

 Smita     Brian      Paul

 Jeff         Pierre

 

Day Route/Day Description Picture Files
Scout Trip (05/11/2003) Scout Hike to find Trailhead, First Camp sight, Cache some gear, and figure out how to get into the Red Wall slot. Scout Thumbnails
Day 0 (05/17/2003) Flight to Saint George, UT from San Martin, CA Day 0 Thumbnails
Day 1 (05/18/2003) 150 Trailhead to Top of Red Wall slot Day 1 Thumbnails
Day 2 (05/19/2003) Into the Red Wall slot to just before a nasty high, long, bypass to the left. Day 2 Thumbnails 
Day 3 (05/20/2003) The left bypass to the river Day 3 Thumbnails
Day 4 (05/21/2003) Cross River to MatKatamiba Day 4 Thumbnails
Day 5 (05/22/2003) River back to after nasty bypass. Day 5 Thumbnails
Day 6 (05/23/2003) Back to first camp sight Day 6 Thumbnails
Day 7 (05/24/2003) Back to Trailhead via Cowboy Camp Day 7 Thumbnails
Day 8 (05/25/2003) Flight form Saint George, UT back to San Martin, CA Day 8 Thumbnails
 

Maps Used

Directions to Trailhead from Arizona State Line (Very Much Needed)

150 to Matkatamiba Canyon Trip Report

Paul and Brian did a scout hike the week before to leave food cache and some equipment at Redwall Camp. One person bailed after the scout trip report below. This resulted in us having way too much food for the rest of the hike!

The Scout trip went well, and was well worth it for many reasons:

1) It took us an extra 3-3.5 hours to even locate the trailhead. Paul and I could not even find the rim of the canyon for the longest while, even though we knew it could not be far away. After getting a glimpse, and some landmarks, we could guess where we should have gone.

2) We took down and cashed about 60+lbs of stuff at the first campsite. May not sound like a lot, but given the condition of the trail, and extra 10lbs per person would have made things much more difficult.

3) We got to look at the Redwall gorge. Impressive, intimidating, shock and awe inspiring. In fact, I can't remember any occasion where I've felt more intimidated while in close proximity. So...

NOW IS THE TIME TO THINK ABOUT BACKING OUT...

expect: difficulties of all kinds, swimming, climbing, lowering, pack passing, physical hard labor. You WILL have to swim in COLD water.

expect: "too hot, too cold, too long, too hard, too heavy, too much, too high, too steep, too ..."

Initial plan had 2 more days, for 10 days. But due to peoples' schedules it was shortened somewhat. Thus we knew going in that the revised plan was very aggressive, especially as we had not done the route before. But you must have a plan in order to change it:

Day 1: Hike to Redwall Camp

Day 2: Descend through SOB to the Muav layer at Steck's proposed camp

Day 3: Go along river, cross river, go to Matkat

Day 4,5 Explore Matkat drainage and area

Day 6: Return to mouth of SOB

Day 7: Ascend SOB to Redwall Camp

Day 8: Exit.

Quick points:

1) When Steck says that he has second thoughts climbing down with a pack, think rappel. When he says he has second thoughts climbing up with a pack, it's about 5.6!

2) First down-climb into SOB is more intimidating than it looks. Rock and holds are very good. Probably goes at 5.1. It is almost exactly 82ft. There is a bolt there now. There is also another bolt that can be used to rappel into the slot on a nose just left and down from the overhangs.

3) If you have not done the route before, don't plan going from Redwall Camp to the river in a day. You'd need time to scout both the short bypass, as well as the high bypass. There is a very good camping area with water just before the up climb to high bypass (coming down SOB), which we called bypass camp.

4) There are 5 choke stones in the upper Redwall gorge that require rappels. All have good bolts. But a bolt kit is a must, as things can change in a flash flood jiffy.

5) Last high bypass is HOT when in the sun, and stays that way for most of the day.

6) Camping at the river is nicer than camping at Steck's proposed camp before the last choke stone. Source of fresh water is a little harder though. We were able to collect 1 liter every 5 min using a zip lock from the damp fall. Camping at the higher bypass camp is great, with good water.

7) It's an easy day from mouth of SOB to Matkat. Even with the river crossing. We took 4.5 hours there, and under 3 hours hiking back, including both river crossings. But this was without heavy packs.

8) Rapping through the last part of the gorge to the river through the Muav is not worth it for time, or scenery. But. if the ledges and down-climb are hot enough, it may be worth it for other reasons. down-climb has a 5.6 sequence on it.

9) You can get water at Buckhorn spring. With a zip lock, can collect 1 liter every 10 min.

10) Although we had good and easy water for the entire trip, we would not guarantee anything if done in fall rather than in spring. Could be very different!

Actual execution:

Day 1: Hike to Redwall Camp

Day 2: Descend through SOB to good camp before high bypass. Scouted high bypass.

Day 3: Go to river, rap through last part of gorge, spend night at river, and catch fish. Scouted part of route towards Matkat. Decided that the route may not go.

Day 4: Successful dayhike scout to Matkat and back

Day 5: Hike from river to bypass camp

Day 6: Ascend SOB to Redwall Camp. Started at around 8am, was at base of last upclimb at 3pm.

Day 7: Exit one day early via cowboy camp. Totally forgot about small bypass stream left in the Supai, even though we had done it 3 times (twice on the scout trip, once while decending).

We'll do this again, and we'll at least add the two days back to the previous itinerary. Maybe even combine it with a longer loop.

Day 0: It's always a logistical nightmare getting everyone organized and out to the trailhead. This time was no different. Jeff, Paul and Brian would fly to St. George from San Martin in Paul's archer piper. Smita and her friend Pierre (read poor unsuspecting victim) would fly into Las Vegas, and would rent a high clearance 4wd vehicle and pick us up. The archer piper flight was uneventful, although we were _really really_ close to our weight limit, and had to judiciously pack everything to make it fit, and to get the weight balanced. Needless to say, the piper took longer than usual getting off the runway. After about 4 hours, and one motion sick Jeff later, we landed at St. George. At that point, Jeff made motions that he was too sick to hike, but Brian convinced him to wait until morning. Besides, he didn't really have a choice anyways. Good thing we brought all the extra stuff the weekend before, otherwise we would have been overweight! Smita and Pierre turned up finally at 2am.

Day1: After way too little sleep we were packed and driving out of St. George to the trailhead at about 10am. We got to the trailhead without any problems, the last 15 miles of the dirt road taking at least 45 min. Even though we made judicious notes the week before, we were still confused at one of the junctions. After an hour of packing up, we finally started down the trail at about 2:30pm. at least 2 hours later than we would have liked. The decent down to Buckhorn spring is direct and steep. During the scout hike, we did not find the spring, and some kind comments from the yahoo Grand Canyon group set us straight. Usually there is a hint of visible green to mark the spot, but Buckhorn is a little different. It is hidden under a little tunnel under a big flat rock, right behind the only trees (and shade) in the creek bed. A little inspection was enough to convince Brian that this little wet seep won't be much use on the way out. Wrong wrong wrong!

From this point, it is a hot long slog to the start of the Supai narrows. It was amazing how much difference a week made. The week before it was just hot. Now it was a furnace. The only saving grace was that the cactus flowers were in full bloom. Smita swore for the nth time that this was the last canyon hike that she would ever do in May. The canyon is wide, and runs almost east-west, and there are just one or two places where you can get a little shade. Finally we reached the Supai, and relished the shade that the walls would bring. The Supai gorge is easy, with first water appearing just before the junction with the Cowboy Camp arm, the first major side canyon to the right. There is only one obstacle of any significance, about 1/3 mile down creek from Cowboy Camp arm, half way to the next side arm coming in from the left. This is bypassed by climbing up and around to the left (north). Remnants of an old trail are visible here.

Just after this bypass we encountered our first rattlesnake (we averaged about one good "rattle scare" a day for the entire hike!). There are numerous rock bands going across the drainage, from a few inches to a few feet high. Some of these bands are slightly undercut, and one is strongly "encouraged" to wave the end of the walking stick below each band before stepping down. This tactic prevented Brian from stepping down just inches in front of the snake. A mile further there is another large rock band marking the end of the Supai that is bypassed on creek right. The canyon opens up at this point, and a last mile of boulder hopping lands one at the top of the Redwall slot.

The overhangs at Redwall camp were a welcome sight for hot folks and tired feet. There was still a little running water over the lip, but it was considerably less than the week before. We set up camp, and retrieved our food cache, and had a great meal of egg drop soup, curried shrimp and rice. The dark bitter sweet chocolate (that survives the heat fairly well) was a hit. The Redwall slot was as impressive as ever.

It was not until we bedded down that we realized we had a problem: Smita forgot her ear-plugs, and Jeff snores!!!

Day 2: So we went a mile and a half today. But what a mile and a half. We started out a little slowly, as we had to sort through all our stuff, and repack for 5 persons instead of 6. It's really hard repackaging at this point, so we ended up taking too much. Surprise surprise. On previous hikes, there was always a stigma attached to taking the "tarp", an 18x20 ft plastic sheet that we use to sleep on, and occasionally to fashion an A shelter in a storm. But this time the stigma was "the boat". A 13lb inflatable Sevylor 3 person raft that we intended to cross the Colorado with. Brian has had two goals for the longest time: a) to cross the Colorado, and b) to hike into Matkatamiba. He hoped to accomplish both these goals on this hike. In addition to "the boat" is 26 lbs of climbing gear going under the names of "the rope", "the never used bolt-kit", "the never used nuts", "a couple useless cams", two alpine harnesses, marginally useful webbing, etc.

Finally, we were ready to get going. We set up the rope, and decided since the limestone was so carnivorous (sharp and jagged), that we should rappel with our packs. Next time we should down-climb on belay, as the down-climb is actually more intimidating than it looks. Unfortunately Pierre got some rope burn at this point when he slipped and grabbed the rope with his free hand. This caused him considerable grief for the rest of the hike, because given the amount of rope work and climbing/scrambling, his hand was never given adequate time to heal. True to Steck's description, there was a choke stone 40 yards ahead, and another 40 yards after that. Soon we are deep into the slot, reminiscent of the West Canyon hike we had done the year before. At this point, the water and wading started. The heat of the day before, and the baking on the rappel were quickly forgotten to the chilling reality of cold deep standing water. There were at least two over-the-head pools, and many many more waist deep or deeper.

At the point that the canyon widened just half mile from where we entered, we stopped for lunch, trying to follow the sun. Almost immediately, the canyon narrows again, and we are back to the pools and water. Another 3 choke-stones and rappels, and we get faster with practice. Finally abruptly after the 5th choke-stone, the canyon opens somewhat, and the up to now largely undifferentiated limestone starts showing layers very reminiscent to the Muav ledges. Shortly afterwards, we come to a drop-off, with deep water. There was a bolt there, but we didn't relish rappelling into water and swimming. This is the small bypass that Steck talks about, and is bypassed on creek right. You first have to climb up to a ledge, contour around and then re-descend after only a couple of hundred yards. The way down is not obvious, and we ended up lowering packs, and then down-climbing increasingly steeper slabs and finally a layback flake. On the way up, we found that just upstream of the flake, there is a route with careful working back and forth, one could go up and down fairly easily without needing to remove packs. At each rappel, we would leave a carabineer, and a thin nylon cord so that we could pull the rope back through when we had to re-ascend.

The water vanishes, and the going becomes pebbly. However shortly, (about 1/3rd mile), the slot which has been mostly straight for a while makes a noticeable turn to the right after having made a slight trend to the left. The nice flat Muav like ledges come back out, and there are good clear pools of water. If you continue and try to stay near the creek bed at this point you come to an impressive drop-off that does not show up on the 40ft topo map although it is definitely looks more than 100ft high!

With no obvious way to go and while the others take a break, Brian goes off to explore the route. This is the "high" bypass that Steck refers to, and is on creek left. It is not at all obvious. What Brian thought to be a 10-15 min scout like the small bypass turns out to be at least an hour to an hour and a half. It's just that you go a little, and then a little more, and before you realize it, you're gone a long time. You have to go high, and long, and around a point, and across a pretty sketchy bay, and around another point before you see that there is a way down. All this time, the creek bed is getting further and further from you vertically, but not horizontally. By the time Brian gets back, all the rest are raving mad that he'd been gone so long, and that he did not take anyone with him, and that he was out of earshot for such a long period.

We decided to camp here, and christen it bypass camp. At this point, the Redwall cliffs are 600ft above us, there are beautiful flat camping ledges everywhere, and the frogs are kicking up a riot.

It was not until we bedded down again that we remembered our little problem from the night before: Smita forgot her ear-plugs, and Jeff snores!!! Smita and Brian relocate camp in the dark to a flat spot on the other side of the canyon. What they did not realize was that this side of the canyon gets baked by the evening sun, and all through the night the rocks were giving up their heat.

Day 3: The original plan called for going up the river towards Matkat today. But the river was at best guess a mile away, and fresh in our minds was how long it took us to go a mile and a half the day before. But that said, the high bypass aside from being exposed, steep in parts, and having a really mean long down-climb, went fairly straightforward. The trick is to climb up high to the little narrow ledge on creek left. There was one part while crossing the exposed bay that Pierre asked what he should do, and Brian suggested he hold on to a handhold rock. Grabbing this rock, it promptly came out in his hand. Brian without missing a beat says "Not that one. The one to the right!". Well, Pierre grabs at the second one, and it also comes out in his hand. Pierre is not impressed! We keep contouring around, and finally cross over a point where to the left there is a large bay, and a long scramble down to the stream bed.

Right after getting to the stream bed, there are a bunch of house size boulders (actually building sized) to be negotiated, and finally we pass a noticeable side canyon coming in from the left. There was some water up this side canyon, but only a little. From there on, another set of house size boulders, and the canyon turns sharply to the south. The going now gets easier. Already it is getting hotter, and because of the change of direction, the sun is more effective: we stop at each bend at the sun line, and then quickly persevere to the shade around the next bend. For the longest while we can hear the river, but not see it. As we round the last couple of bends before the river, there is lot of rubble in the canyon, caused by a prior rock slide. Before this slide, it's quite possible that this canyon was much more like Matkat. Just after a pool of water, we end up at the final choke stone, the river now tantalizingly close.

Smita goes up and scouts the "death ledges" on creek left. If you thought that the Deer Creek ledges are narrow, just wait till you see these. Brian a nd Jeff follow her out, and soon we are at the point overlooking the Colorado. No obvious way down!

We start scouting heading down river, but cannot spot any break through the Muav ledges that would get us to river level. At points we can get to within 30 or 40 ft, but no further. We scout at least half a mile along the river, looking for the other break that is said to exist, but still no success. At this point, it is getting _really really_ hot (note a trend here), and we are out of water. We can also see clearly along the river, all the way to the side canyon leading to Matkat hotel, and see that there is an almost solid cliff band often coming down to the water on the south side of the river, and that there is no place where we could land a boat and walk for any distance. And no place where one could climb from river level to the top of the Muav band. Except perhaps almost a mile up river, where the cliffs on the north side then go straight down to the water. If there is no overlap, we would be SOL (shit out of luck) with respect to a river crossing and getting over to Matkat. At the same time Smita has scouted Steck's down-climb, and with a belay is able to free climb down and up at this point. We decide to go back and discuss our situation.

By the time we contour back into SOB to the point where Pierre and Paul are now hunting for shade it is too hot to even consider taking the packs out to the point and down-climbing. And, we were not sure how to get the packs out. There was nowhere to set up a belay, and a fall would be certainly fatal, and the packs would be difficult to drag that distance.

But. There is a good solid bolt left by a previous party above the choke-stone, and it does look really cool and shady down below. So after some lunch, filling up water, we decide for the direct route.

Jeff rappels first, and immediately has a close encounter with a rattlesnake at the bottom. Good rattle average so far J This fall is a little over 50ft. Two 15-20 further drop-offs that require some rope work and lowering packs put us at the Colorado. Just below the death grip ledges, between the last chokestones there is a desiccated skeleton of a goat that fell in. Yes, goats do fall! We setup camp at a flat gravel section just at the mouth of SOB, and relax for the rest of the day. 10min of fishing lands us 2 good trout, and the Colorado is cold as usual for our "swim" ritual (For those of you who have not swam in the Colorado, it is cold. Really cold. Stunningly cold. Pins and needles cold. :-)

Did we mention that Smita forgot her ear-plugs, and Jeff snores? Poor Jeff is kicked out of camp for the night, and ends up on a little ledge way on the other side of SOB from us ;-)

We decide that tomorrow we will scout along the river, and try to find a place where a river crossing can be made safely. We give up on the idea of actually camping in the Matkat drainage.

Day 4: We get up early and pack for an early start. However, it takes us a really long time to collect water from the drip at the last pour-off in SOB. Even though the Colorado is green, we usually use it only as a last resort. In hindsight, we should have just up-climbed, and gone back to the fresh pool just up of the last big choke stone. Anyways, we end up with a not-so-early start. We boulder hop at river level, and less than mile into the hike, the first rattle for the day gets the adrenalin going. After about mile, we find a break where one could get up to the first Muav level. This was probably the break that the boatman had told Steck about, and could easily get from the river to the level that contours around at the choke-stone level into SOB. mile further the Muav cliffs out at river level.

Somehow, luck is in our favor, and on the south side there is a landing spot, as well as a break in the Muav band where one could get through from the river level. On the north side, this is just after the river re-widens, and there is an eddy (or at least a calmer area) in which one could paddle a little way upstream. So the plan is to inflate our little portable raft, go upstream to where the cliff corner pinches the river narrow, and then zip across the current. Hopefully we would get to the break on the south side just a little upstream from us. Then on the way back, we could paddle back, and hit the north side at any point.

As we are inflating our little raft, an enormous raft by Arizona River Runners drifts by, and pulls up to take a look. They think that we are crazy. After not being able to talk us out of our folly, they offer to drop us across the river. We refuse on the basis that to get back in the afternoon, we need to know that it can be done, and since we are 5, and the raft takes max 3, we would need to make several crossings. Thus, we need to know that we can do it, else risk being stuck on the wrong side of the river with no one to rescue us. Now they definitely know that we are crazy, refusing a perfectly good offer.

We are almost ready to get going when a second rafting company drops by. This time a number of smaller 6 person rafts with oars and paddles. We get greeted with "So. who's hair brain idea is this?". After again trying to talk us out of our idea, they take off: out of sight, out of mind.

Crossing is extremely successful. Jeff and Pierre go to explore the eddy, and to see if they can indeed make it up-stream. They do, and instead of just coming back, they decide on impulse to try for the other side. They make it! Jeff leaves Pierre, and comes back. Again no problems. A couple of trips later, we're all on the south side. And yes, we did take life-jackets with us. They were ultra light, and multiple purpose: protects the packs well during the many pack lowers and hoists; good pillows.

But by now, the sun has extended its hot little arms down to river level, and we have a decision to make: should we play lizard, and try for Matkat tomorrow, now knowing it can be done? Or should we try for Matkat today, in the heat of the day. It's only 1 river mile to go, and we've heard that the going is easier from Matkat hotel as there is a use trail from there. After some discussion, we decide (against Brian's objections) to go for it. We hide the raft around a corner, after letting some air out: very important as a blowout would be really bad. The break is very easy, but the contouring around to the side canyon going down to Matkat hotel is difficult and slow going. There is a deer trail on an 8 inch nice flat ledge right on the very edge of the cliff. None of us have the stomach to stay on it for more than a couple feet. We scramble up 15-20 more feet, and make our way on the deeply sloped, rocky, uneven terribly uncomfortable terrain. We eventually hit the cairns marking the use trail from Matkat hotel to Matkat, and it's amazing what a difference a hint of a trail makes! It takes us total about 2 hours from after we cross, and we make it around the bend into Matkat just as our water, and tolerance for heat runs out.

As we walk into the huge Muav amphitheatre, and the shade, we are happy happy happy. We have at least 3-4 hours before the sun would go down enough to allow us to try to get back. And we have shade, water, beautiful lunch spot, wonderful. In hindsight, Brian agrees that going for Matkat was the correct decision. After lunch, helping a rafting bunch make a butt dam and a little "flash flood", and pumping bottle after bottle of water, we decide to explore a little way up the Matkat drainage. Wonderful enchanted canyon. We did not get all the way to the Chikapanagi arm, but we lost count of the twists and winds. We probably got fairly close. There are a couple of good places to camp if we were to come here again. We then did the obligatory following of the creek through the Muav narrows to the Colorado. We were not able to keep our feet dry! Many thanks to the kind rafters who left us cold beer on a rock at the mouth of Matkat. We're not sure that they realized how much it was appreciated.  It just took us just an hour and a half to get back from Matkat to the river crossing point. Brian and Pierre are dropped over to walk back (and jump from rattle snake warnings, perhaps the same ones we encountered in the morning), and Smita, Jeff and Paul decide to drift back in the raft to camp. Lucky buggers ;-)

Day 5: Today is the day we say goodbye to the Colorado. We decide to exit one day early, but we know we'll be back. No rush to make haste now. We pull our rope back through the anchor that we had left. There is more significance to this than meets the eye. This method of using a thin nylon cord to pull a rope back though a biner would be necessary to get back up through all the choke-stones. And it must work every time. Yes we had tried pulling this specific knot many times before, but now it counted for real. Well, it worked like a charm, and for every other obstacle. The initial climb out of SOB goes at around 5.6, and we all take our hats off to all those river-runners who do it in Tevas! Paul particularly hated this up-climb with his pack.

Hauling the packs through the death grip ledges was something of an anticlimax, however now we fully understand Steck's description of being on all fours, having one knee on the ledge, and the other hanging over the side on little precarious holds. As the others fill up water at the water source just above the choke-stone, Jeff and Brian scout the route on the west of SOB from the choke-stone around to the top of the Muav ledges. This is the route to take if one wanted to go from SOB downstream along the Colorado. No worse than the other side!

There is no need to hurry today, as we only intend to get to bypass camp. By the time we get to the side canyon before the bypass, we can see the entire bypass basking in the sun. We decide to play lizard, and to hideaway in the shade for the day. We play cards, sleep, practice jumaring for the next day, and explore a little way up canyon through the section bypassed by the bypass, and in general have the first really do-nothing day for the trip. Next time though, we should leave earlier, and get through the first bypass in the morning. It basks in the sun, and the sun does not leave it until fairly late in the day.

We get to bypass camp, and recover our little food cache for the way out. Dinner is great, and once again with no river noise to drown out the sound, Jeff's snoring competes with the almost equally vocal frogs. At one point Smita tosses a big rock into the pool below in frustration and all the frogs up and down canyon shut up for a while. Then after a minute of deafening silence, one brave one ventures a croak, and in a couple of seconds the chorus resumes unabated.

Day 6: Fun day. Small bypass goes by in a jiffy, and we jump as we nearly step on this enormous rattlesnake just before the first choke-stone. We're able to up-climb this one without using the rope, although we use the rope to haul the packs up. We keep a designated lookout on the snake. The other choke-stones go without a hitch: we first pull the rope through, and two people jumar up. Then while the 3rd and 4th are jumaring up, we simultaneously haul the packs up using a 2-for-1 pulley system. The wading and swimming sections seem longer than we remember, but we finally get to the final up-climb at about 3pm. We look at the rock wall basking in the sun, and we procrastinate the final up-climb as long as possible.

After making camp again under the overhangs, Brian and Paul pop a bottle of wine and cheese that had been pre-cached for the occasion! As in all our hikes, we also home cook all dinners, and dehydrate for the hike. Excellent as always!

The Redwall ledge that make up the overhangs makes easy walking along the SOB rim. Pierre and Brian explored about mile before turning back for dinner, and this route appears well trodded by critters. It's probably worth seeing if this route on the south side of SOB goes easily all the way out to the point overlooking Upset Rapids. The views would be fantastic!

Did we mention that Jeff snores? Tonight everyone wanted a good night's sleep, and so poor Jeff was banished 100+ feet up canyon, around a corner.

Day 7: Already our last day in the canyon. How did the time go by so quickly? As usual, we are slow to pack up and start in the morning. Do we detect a trend here? We pay dearly for this later!

We start up the canyon and we make good speed. We enter the Supai gorge, and it is just stunning. It does not matter how many times one goes through these gorges; it's just as stunning every time. The light is always a little different, and the green of vegetation, red of rocks and blue of the sky all clash against each other in a wonderful way. Suddenly, we arrive at a beautiful little grotto, with a dripping waterfall, ferns, beautiful. One problem: we don't remember this on the way down! Two problem: we don't see any way out of it. We're all suddenly very confused. We look around, and nothing looks familiar. It was like walking through some kind of portal, where on one side everything looks familiar, while on the other. this waterfall should not be here. Maybe we took the incorrect side-arm by accident? But which one? We did not remember anywhere we could have been sidetracked. After at least 10 minutes of total confusion and map-looking, we turn around, and start walking downstream again. In a couple of minutes, we get to a section where we are sure we were descended the first day. In particular, where we saw that first rattlesnake. And we found footprints going down-creek. O.K. now we are triple confused. We again pound the map, and we think we are where we should be. So now what??? Again we turn around, and we start up stream again. We pass this "magic" spot where again everything looks different. More confusion. Then Paul comes to the rescue: "Don't we have to climb around over there? This was where the bypass was right?". And suddenly everything falls in place. We all forgot the bypass! As we start up the canyon wall, this rattle comes out of no-where, and we jump like there is no tomorrow. Considerably more difficult finding a route around a rattlesnake when it wants to coil up on the only flat ledge leading up the canyon walls!

mile later lands us at the junction of Cowboy camp arm. We decide to go up that way, and look at the camp on the way out. We get to Hotel Spring, and have no problem finding the camp high on the left side. Spend some time looking through it, and all the stuff that is left in this little time capsule. Go back down to the spring, and fill up all our water. It is now impressively hot, and we start being a little concerned about it. We climb up from Cowboy camp directly to the top of the Esplanade, and start contouring around and up towards Bighorn spring, and the exit from SOB. It gets hot, and hotter and hotter. And there is pretty much no shade from this point on. Smita swears again that this is the last canyon hike she will do in May, just as she has done on every one of our many other May hikes. She does have a point: we go through another 3 liters of water per person by the time we get to Bighorn spring. At this point, while having lunch, we realize that we don't have enough water between us to get us up though the Coconino and Kaibab layers to the car, even though we can clearly see the rim and the break above us. Brian spends 50 painful minutes at Bighorn spring, and collects 5 liters of water, and less than 2 hours later we are at the car. End of another very successful hike. Only 61.5 miles of dirt road left to a paved road.