Jumping Up Into Kanab Creek Wilderness

(A Solo Trip from Jumpup/Nail to the Colorado River)

May 15 - 22, 2004

by Rob Jones

(Text and Photos © copyright by Rob)
I'm Mr. Lizard, King of Kanab Creek, and I approve this trip report!
I'm Mr. Lizard, King of Kanab Creek, and I approve this trip report!
(Click the image for the full-size image of this lusty, lounging, love lizard, a Desert Spiny Lizard)

     The map below is from a 2013 trip with a similar, yet not completely the same, route. Only the start of the route shown on the map - the part from Sowats Point to The River - was hiking during the current trip. It will help orient you to most of the route and perhaps give you some trip ideas. Caution, it is not the exact route from the trip described in this report. Yet, enjoy.
     See the links at the bottom of this page for access to all WV reports about The Grand Canyon.

Map- kanab, 2013; sowats to monument pt; 45 mi (includes route from Indian Hollow, 
which we did not hike)
Map- kanab, 2013; sowats to monument pt; 45 mi (includes route from Indian Hollow, which we did not hike)
(Click the image to see the map)

for a full-resolution map, click here. Caution - do not use this map or gps track for navigating the route.


Rob's Photos:
Click on the thumbnails below for the full size images. They will open in a separate browser window.
Looking down from Jumpup/Nail
View from Jumpup/Nail
At Mountain Sheep Spring
At Mountain Sheep Spring
Pictos at Jumpup Spring
Pictos at Jumpup Spring
Jumpup-Kanab Junction
Jumpup-Kanab Junction
Showerbath Spring
Showerbath Spring
pool in Slide of Susurrus
pool in Slide of Susurrus
Rob in the Susurrus pool
Rob in the Susurrus pool
Whispering Susurrus
Whispering Susurrus
Scotty's Castle
Scotty's Castle
Kanab Cr./Colorado junction
Kanab Cr./Colorado junction
Beavertail Flowers
Beavertail Flowers

"Since george w bush took the office of President of the United States I have been sick of heart, unable to stomach or abide by this administration's aggressive policies directed against the environment, education, social services, healthcare, and our civil liberties - basically, the wholesale destruction of seemingly everything that contributes to a free society, except the special interests of big business." Terry T. Williams, The Open Space of Democracy (2004, p. 17), The Orion Society, Great Barrington, MA.

     I concur, and felt I needed a break from the desicration of the Bill of Rights, the rape of open country and open space and open democracy by bushco. As a stress-reduction aide, I decide to go repair in the wildlands of Kanab Creek Wilderness.

    This is a hike for the serious, not the casual, adventurer. Little (perhaps three miles) of the route supports a trail, and about half of that is incredibly steep. Depending on the time of year, you might be alternately toasted by the sun and hypothermic in chilled Kanab Creek. There are lots of boulders and rocks on which to twist a precious knee or ankle. So, beware, and I hope you enjoy this trip report.

Night 1: Brian Bound: Itís Saturday and I am traveling to Brian Head, Utah to stay at Craigís place. I arrived at 11 p.m. and Craig and I were up talking good trips until 1 a.m. Oh those caffeine tremors, I thought, as I jiggled to sleep.

Day 1 - Jumpup down to Mountain Sheep Spring. (1-2 miles?): Itís Sunday and Escobar's in Kanab is open (except for Saturdays - imagine that!). I have a permit for 3 but due to conflicts and such, I am going solo. Kathleen is burned out after 3 hikes in a row (The Maze, Salt Creek, and the Paria Canyons). Craig is enjoying his new lady friend and nephew graduation.

    I left the snow of Brian Head for the relative warmth of Fredonia, AZ. Then, itís 50 miles off the highway over 2 hours, on FS 22, 435 and 233 to JumpUp/Nail TH #8 at SowatsTH.

     Itís already been a long day, yet I start down the very steep trail after final packing, leaving the truck at 5 p.m. The trail is so steep that I find myself sliding on some sections. Yikes. Jumping down onto what appears to be the Esplanade level, I wandered around in a clump of Cottonwoods I thought must harbor Mountain Sheep Spring, but found only a bit of moist dirt. Continuing on, I found the spring and camped on overlooking slickrock a bit after 6 p.m. With the poor maps that I have, Iím just not feeling OK about going on into the dusk. Refreshing, fresh water for dinner, some wandering around the big back yard and then itís - Dark now, 9:07 UT time, as poor wills and chukars sing the end of the day.

At Mountain Sheep Spring Pictos at Jumpup Spring

Day 2: Iíll have a shower and a bath, please: To Showerbath Spring (7 hiking hours; to Lower JumpUp Spring and into Kanab Creek). Rock me to a Shower! I hum as the friendly waters of Kanab Creek burble over the in-construction beaver dam and delightful spring water patters into the creek from its overhanging fern garden. Far down canyon the black smudged, reddish sheer walls of this deeply entrenched canyon glow faintly pink. The patter and burble sound deluxe after many hours of boulder and sand. Crunching over the gravels in the desiccated lower regions of Jumpup Canyon. Gyrating through the dry and watermelon-size rock-strewn upper Kanab Canyon. And Thankfully, clouds have again settled in - this is what made the trip to Showerbath doable - it was cooler because of cloud cover.

     My leg muscles are complaining some while the biting midges nibble my ears, and I stomach a more than generous second portion of potatoes, TVP (textured vegetable protein), and peas. Itís already getting late, yet I enjoy a shower from the spring and set up my Walrus mini tent (bugs). Here is a recap of the day (recall this is down-stream hiking on a fairly cool day):

Start: Mountain Sheep Spring. At 8 a.m.

    Elapsed Time:

     1 hr, 20 min To Jumpup Canyon. (Jump down Jumpup)

    30 Lower Jumpup Spring. and Pictos - Good water here (No water from here to Spring a mile above Showerbath Spring)

    30 A Canyon - which goes N (not seen easily on map)

    20 A Canyon goes East (Kwagunt Hollow?) Narrows start

    20 A side Canyon - goes E - Indian Hollow?

    1hr, 20 A large Canyon, Goes N and S (Kanab Creek) - camps on bench Turn left (South) and hike down Kanab Creek.

     1hr, 30 Spring and small camp - start of flow of permanent water to the river

     15 A Canyon goes SE

     45 Showerbath Spring - arrive 5:30 p.m.

Total trip time about 9.5 hours, including breaks and such.

     From Camp 1 at Mountain Sheep Spring, I hike along what I believe is the Esplanade. These flat benches feel like those we hiked during our journey to Thunder River/ Deer Creek. Is it the same formation? I am cruising along the Esplanade when the trail drops sharply into Jumpup Canyon, sometimes on gargantuan man-made stairs. I lounge in the fading morning shade of the last of the big steps and notice that the Ranger Trail continues across this, Jumpup, canyon. Wondering if this is the right place, I drift down canyon, thinking I may have made a huge mistake (because of poor planning, the section to Lower Jumpup Spring is not on my maps - yikes). In half an hour I see Cottonwoods and the delightful Lower Jumpup Spring, repleat with camps and a few pictos (mostly hand prints). The water runs - today at least - for half a mile to the next canyon. I drink some, filter some, contemplated a lot, drink some more, then continue. After Kwagunt Hollow Canyon, the narrows appear - and never end all the way to The River. About 20 minutes of gazing at and wandering in the towering, narrowing limestone tube of Jumpup, another (Indian Hollow?) canyon joins in from the East. Itís a long boulder and gravel dry bounce to the junction with Kanab Creek and then another 4 miles to flowing water - probably an 8 (more?) mile dry stretch - then another 1 or more to Showerbath - making for a very long day. I was relieved and happy when I encountered the water - icky ponds of scum at first, then flowing! Itís probably better to hike from Lower Jumpup to Showerbath (or vice versa) rather than from Mountain Sheep - even then, it could be a long day.

Jumpup-Kanab Junction Showerbath Spring pool in Slide of Susurrus

Day 3: 1 and Ĺ Days to Whispering Falls, Tuesday (7 Hrs.): I sit lethargically on my gray polished limestone perch, gazing mindlessly at the entrance to what I suspect is Whispering Falls, rumored to be more of a slide, the Slide of Susurrus, yet Iím not certain. No, I have not yet explored it because I passed it on the way down canyon, thinking it could not be the place. At this time of first passing I was not sure it was the only West canyon below Scottyís Castle. I believe that now, now that I am back at this point I passed a few hours ago, I know this side canyon contains the slide, having blundered on and on, hiking closer to the river than Iíd like to report.

     The fun started right out of Showerbath with a boulder climb - minor, yet there were many more. I tried to keep my boots dry, foolishly, then got well-soaked near the castle. I could have waded the deep pool opposite the boulder route.

     It was slow going nearly all day - climbing around boulder jams. I got wet, including slipping off a rock and going face first into Kanab Creek. I was exhausted after hiking down near the river (which of course I did not realize I was close to the river until the next day), and scanning for hanging canyons to compare to my map, when, zip, pow, I was under water. My bwana pack pushed me flat on the creek bed rocks. I could feel my glasses wrapping around my head, then flailed and wrestled with my pack until I could get it off. Although I have a knot on my head, I worry if my camera is OK. Thankfully, it seems to be in working order.

     I saw a fine cascade in Scottyís Hollow and a fearless Bighorn Sheep near the pseudo castle. I enjoyed the aroma of blowing mesquite pollen and the ever- towering walls. To recap: Time: (Showerbath Spring to Slide of Susurrus Canyon)

     45 Min Showerbath to Scottyís Hollow (slow)

     1hr, 30 min To cave - S side of Pseudo Scottyís Castle (Mixed - Boulders and some ok walking)

     ? 4Hrs ? To Slide of Susurrus Canyon (Boulders!! Wading, possible swimming!)

    Thereís a cave (camping in it would be OK) on the South side of Pseudo Scottyís Castle. I hiked into the heat, sure the Slide canyon must be close (after already passing it). I stumbled along slowly, finally stopped, and hiked on without a pack - fortunately running into Nick (only the second person I have seen). He told me I missed the side canyon, the Slide of Susurrus, AKA Whispering Falls, as he had when he hiked here solo in 2001. Nick is on a huge trip over to Tapeats/Thunder River and predicted tomorrow will be tough as his group hikes along the river and over to Deer Creek. Tough? Yikes! What was today? He guessed where we were and we hiked on to what I suspect is the last East canyon before the River and a hanging canyon. Which is not obvious! Yikes again.

     I struggled back to my pack and slightly recovered while slumped against the cooling wall, feet slung akimbo into Kanab Creek. Then, I returned to camp where I had been 3 hrs. ago - across from the canyon, which holds the (suspected) Slide of Susurrus. The mouth of the Canyon holding the Slide of Susurrus is dry and narrow, not what one would suspect contains the fabled Whispering Falls, AKA The Slide of Susurrus. Is this the way? Tomorrow will tell, because the bats are already buzing, as is my stove for dinner.

     It looks like fairly easy walking to the river - Nick says there may be one more boulder jam. Thanks, Nick.

Rob in the Susurrus pool Whispering Susurrus Scotty's Castle

Day 4: Slide of What!? Take me to the River - THE River: Iím gazing at 1200 vertical feet of redrock walls as the last glow of sunlight inches toward the top, then fades into pink, and then dark umber. Iím on my second bowl of spaghetti with home-grown dried tomatoes and a fine garnish of dried (instant) hummus and parmesan cheese - yum. This meal would be fine without the cheese (and more durable in this heat, I suspect). I feel much better now.

     I got up to a queasy stomach, which hassled me until nearly dinner time. What is it? A bug? Too many ibuprofin? The heat? Anxiety about george bushco, raping our environment and selling fear? Probably that. I packed a day pack and went up to enjoy church at the Slide of Susurrus, AKA Whispering Falls. Deluxe and wow! Crystal pools, amazing rocks, slithering slide, replete with a ďchampagneĒ surface. As water drops into the pool from overhanging springs, the pool appears effervescent. And, all this is easily missed.... Itís the only (?) East canyon from the cave to the river which has a mouth at creek level (the other canyons are hanging).

     Then, take me to THE River! In 2 hrs. of steady rambling, I see the canyon broaden a bit and I hear a dull roar. Then, I see the thundering jade of the Colorado as it flies into Kanab Rapids at River Mile 143. Iím greeted by Mr. Red- headed Lizard, a lusty, lounging, love lizard, The King of Kanab Creek, and thatís it (he definitely is in full breeding colors; see the opening photo). No boaters, no hikers, no loungers except us lizards. I park my old carcass under some tamarisk. And, the river roars, sand blows a bit, the clouds move in and I move out, yet first a brief dip in the frosty Colorado. Lounging my way back to camp, I take an hour nap on one of the Limestone walkways, dreaming of thighs and smelling rich olive oil, fragrant as I cook a scrumptious fetta cheese and potato omelette.

"...the great Canyon endures. The Canyon endures the trifling busyness of humans as it does the industry of ants, the trickle-down erosion of snow and freeze, the cascade of floods, the transient insult of Glen Canyon Dam. These things shall pass, the Canyon will outlive them all."Edward Abbey, from a forward to A River Runner's Guide to the History of the Grand Canyon by Kim Crumbo, Johnson Books, 1981.

     The elevation is 1887' at the Colorado; 6170' on Sowats Pt (Jumpup-Nail TH) - yow - a descent of nearly 4200!

     20 Min (one-way; in the side canyon) to the pool in Slide of Susurrus from Kanab Creek.

     3 hr., and 30 min. from Susurrus Canyon to the Colorado River with a day pack. The walking has been much better than on Day 3.

     Again, I hike back up to Susurrus - for panorama photos, a complete immersion, and to fill my water bag. I am enjoying my second night at this camp on the bench opposite the entrance to Whispering Falls. Yet - itís hot enough - no bag most of the night, few clothes needed, even the fuel is going farther than I had anticipated, meaning I will be carrying out more than I planned. Sadly, after much work, I gave up on aligning the panorama frames. So, with disappointment all I can offer here are single-frame shots.

     Note: Compared to Day 3 - walking today was a dream - especially when about Ĺ hr. down from Susurrus canyon! (Nick said he was nearly hypothermic here in April one year and it rained.)

Kanab Cr./Colorado junction Beavertail Flowers

Day 5: Cactus Love, Return to Showerbath: Iím gazing at the imposing walls while standing in the midst of the stream and removing sunglasses and hat for another shaded stretch when someone grunts at me. What? Fifty feet above, on a cactus- studded bench, a Bighorn ram clambers out on his lookout rock and urinates in my general direction. Then he grunts again. Rather than going the other way, he drifts easily through the blocks of rock and shrubbery - popping out 30' away in the corner of the stream and grunts again. I return greetings and we smell each other from afar. We each think we smell best. Watching him glide through the rocks and brush, itís clear to me who belongs in this canyon

     I got an early (7 a.m.) start and moved along steadily, expecting a long, slow day. Perhaps because of a lighter pack? A cooler day? Water shoes and thus more time in the water (avoiding some boulders?), and/or familiarity? - anyway, I arrived at Scottyís Castle (the upstream version) mostly in the shade and in 3 Ĺ hrs. and then at Showerbath in another hour, including breaks. Yahoo, I waded much better lines through the rock works. I briefly considered going on - then considered the long, long dry stretch to Lower Jumpup Spring and thought this wondrous place looked great. I set out my mattress for lounging behind the shrubberies on the East wall, near the overhanging spring. This served me well until 3 p.m., at which time was baked out by direct sunlight and I migrated against the West wall until local sunset at 5 p.m. Then, a bath and a shower! Deluxe. I have seen 2 groups so far and no one yesterday or today.

     Then it was time for cactus love: The air was calm, soothing calm, then a gust of wind whipped my thermarest off the sand and wrapped it around a cactus. After peeling off the mattress and plucking out several spines, I patched the thermarest with some trusty duct tape I keep wound around the shaft of my hiking pole.... That night, it held air for an entire 20 minutes. You can see this huggy cactus in the banks of photos.

Day 6: Long Day Goodbyes: This is a long day of goodbyes. Starting very early, the first goodby is to the precious water as I leave Showerbath, then the up-canyon spring, goodbye (GB) Kanab Creek, GB Jumpup Narrows. I lounge at Lower Jumpup Spring, and then decide to go for the top, partly mindful of my flat mattress, and partly thinking of Escobar's in Kanab. What a haul! Up onto the Esplanade, GB Jumpup Canyon, over to Mountain Sheep Spring, GB Esplanade. It is getting quite dark as the dusky light provides relief for the hollows as I grind and grunt up the cliff bands. Looking dizzily down, the low-angle light accentuates where Kwagunt and Indian Hollow lurk far below my perch. Itís windy, almost cold on top as the last glimmer of sunlight dips below the horizon. I hide from the wind in the back of the truck shell sorting clothes and drinking cool water. I start driving, trying to find calm. I had hoped to camp on the point of Sowats, overlooking the hollows and canyons far below. But the wind chill forces me inland, where I hope the big Ponderosas will shed the wind. Strange, thereís a flittering of wings in the headlights. What is this? Lots of small owls (what species? Send me your guess) appear to be sitting on the road, then flying up-flapping clumsily in front of the headlights. Now beyond exhausted, I rinse in the wind, gulp some food from the reserve box, then go to sleep among Ponderosa Pines.

Day 7: Home again: There is ice on the grass around the sprinklers at Big Springs FS station - yow, as I drive the return route to Fredonia, Kanab, finally home. Drat, it must be Saturday because Escobar's is closed, so I enjoy lunch at Nedras, yum. Back in Smog Lake that night, I drift off to sleep listening to the burbles and gurgles of jade green waters echoing off the stately walls of Kanab Creek Wilderness.

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