Day 7

November 3, 2012

75-Mile Beach to Red Canyon Spring

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Today was expected to be very easy, only about 3 miles.  But we did have to negotiate the infamous Papago wall and slide, which were only about half a mile down-river.  I guess if you have an unusual fear heights and limited climbing skills, the Papago wall could be intimidating.  All of us climbed it without any trouble.  We dropped our packs at the top and some of us made an excursion into the Papago Creek narrows. 

Fred Climbing Papago Wall. Fred Looking Up-River From Papago Wall. Excursion into Papago Canyon.

After climbing the Papago Wall, the route drops back down to the river via a very steep chute or slide.  We scrambled down in groups of two or three to minimize the potential for dislodged rocks to take one of us out.  The beach at the bottom of the slide was where I spent 22 hours waiting for a raft to ferry me across the river in October, 2011.  In another 45 minutes we arrived at Hance Rapids at the mouth of Red Canyon. 

Approaching Red Canyon. Mouth of Red Canyon. Hance Rapids and Beach.

The Tonto Trail begins at Hance Rapids and heads west, staying on top of the Tonto Platform, all the way to Garnet Canyon, about 75 miles down-river.  With time to kill, some of us hiked out and back along the Tonto Trail for a ways. 

In mid-afternoon we headed up Red Canyon, on the New Hance Trail, to a spring located about 1-1/2 miles from the river.  The trail follows the canyon bottom here, so it is virtually non-existent -- destroyed by frequent flash floods.  When I arrived at the spring location, I was surprised that it was dry.  I had camped here several times before and there had always been a nice flow of water.  However, I knew the actual spring begins a several hundred yards up-canyon from the campsite.  So I headed up the canyon looking for water.  Water began to surface after about 10 minutes of walking, and in another 5 minutes I came to some nice pools with a small flow of water connecting them.  According to the Park Service, this spring contains arsenic that slightly exceeds municipal water standards.  We figured a few liters of this water wouldn't harm us.

Our campsite was located at a very large rock in the creek bed.  This rock can be seen from the rim at Moran Point.  It was a little tight for 9 people, but we made do. 

View Down Red Canyon.

View of Campsite From Moran Point.

Red Canyon From Moran Point.

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