Day 1

October 27, 2013

Flipoff to Chamberlain

Click on photos to see larger image.

Today's route stats: 

    Distance:  5.0 miles

    Elevation Gain:  0 feet

    Elevation Loss:  2200 feet

We awoke about 5:30.  It was still dark.  Bert had already heated water for breakfast.  It was a cold night -- frost on our sleeping bags.  After breakfast we all futzed around getting our gear together.  Marcey distributed the communal food and gear into 9 equal piles.  By the time everyone was packed up and ready to go, it was almost 8:00.  We began by hiking through the Pinyon-Juniper to the rim, which took about 45 minutes. 

The expansive views into the Canyon were awesome.  The Esplanade seems to go on forever.  Although I love intimate canyons and narrow slots, I come to Grand Canyon primarily for the wonderful views.  But not everyone does.  I was a little surprised while reading Todd Martin's wonderful book, Grand Canyoneering, that his preference for scenery is decidedly biased toward confined spaces.  Tom describes the spectacular views as one descends the Jumpup-Nail trail as not "terribly scenic".  Tom also mentions that the scenery in Flipoff Canyon is "unremarkable".  I could not disagree more.  To each his own, I guess.


On the Rim. Getting Ready to Descend. Rim View of Flipoff Canyon. Crack Access to Talus Slope.


Within only a couple of minutes we came to our first obstacle:  A cliff band in the Kaibab (or maybe Toroweap).  The last time we were here we elected to climb down through a crack, so we did so this time too.  On returning during my last trip here, I climbed the rock to the immediate right of the crack, but it is steep and down-climbing it seemed dangerous.  However, I have since been told (by Rich Rudow) that there is an easier way down by going farther to the left (as you descend).  I'll look for it next time.  Although the crack is easy, it is time-consuming for a large group. 

Once below the crack, the route drops steeply down and to the right.  Eventually you come to another cliff band.  There is an easy way through this by contouring far to the left, staying above the cliff band, until you come to a gully that cuts down and back to the right.  At the bottom of this is an easy way through the cliff, although some may want to lower their packs.

Talus Slope Below Crack. Flipoff "Formation" and Jumpup Point. Water on the Esplanade.

Once we reached the Esplanade, we looked around for water.  We didn't need any today, but we wanted to camp here on our last night and we hoped we would not have to haul a lot of water from below.  We did find some potholes, but they were only one or two inches deep -- not deep enough to ensure they would still be there 6 days later.  But it was a good sign.

Now we would leave familiar territory and head northward along the Esplanade towards Chamberlain Canyon.  Our plan was to hike down Chamberlain to Kanab Creek, then up Kanab for a mile or so to our only reliable water source for the day. 

Esplanade Rock Art. Esplanade Rock Art. Esplanade Between Flipoff & Chamberlaion.

Esplanade hiking is usually very easy, and this section was no exception.  However, getting down into Chamberlain proved a little more problematic, mostly because we didn't want to hike all the way to the head of Chamberlain to gain access.  Once we reached the bottom of Chamberlain, the hiking was easy again.  And I was surprised at how pretty Chamberlain Canyon was.  I admit to having a bias toward Supai Canyons, especially if there is water.

Looking for a Way Down into Chamberlain. Snack Break Near Chamberlain. Hiking Down Chamberlain Canyon.
Hiking Towards Chamberlain. Hiking Down Chamberlain. Our Campsite in Chamberlain.

Although we were planning to hike all the way to Kanab Creek, then up Kanab a mile or so to a known water source, we decided to stop about half way down Chamberlain not only because we found plenty of water, but because the canyon is incredibly beautiful.

Chamberlain Canyon. Chamberlain Canyon Chamberlain Canyon.

I brought several audio books with me on my iPhone.  Once in my sleeping bag for the night I continued listening to Big History: The Big Bang, Life on Earth, and the Rise of Humanity by David Christian. 

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