April 11, 2015
Above Amos Spring to the Sanup Plateau
Click on photos to see larger image.
Today was expected to be very long. We were hoping to get all the way down into the Redwall of the un-named canyon that connects Amos Spring with Surprise Canyon. Rich Rudow had told me that we might not make it all the way down and past all the rappels in one day. I must have assumed he was referring to starting at Shanley Tank, not at the rim overlooking Amos Spring. So I thought we might actually have a fair chance of making it that far. We started hiking around 8 AM. We started out with less than a quart of water, expecting to fill up at Amos Spring.
Even without finding the old trail, the going was pretty easy down to the canyon bottom. Even heading down the canyon bottom to Amos Spring was not difficult. Just before getting to the spring we encountered a wooden fence blocking the drainage, most likely to keep cattle from walking up past the spring to the rim. And a short distance later we encountered what looked like a faint trail. It led to Amos Spring. We had dropped about 600 vertical feet from the rim.
Amos Spring emerged from the base of a cliff. Modifications had obviously been made by ranchers to help collect and store water from the numerous seeps and drips. The area was covered with Monkey Flowers. The water quality was excellent. We each drank a liter or two and continued on carrying two full liters. We should have carried more.
We were able to follow the old trail for quite a ways, but not all the way down to the Sanup Plateau. The Sanup seems equivalent to the Esplanade in other locations, but there must be some differences that I am not aware of. There were occasional cairns for a while, but they disappeared before we were all the way down. The hiking between Amos Spring and the Sanup was more arduous than we were expecting. We had now dropped about 1600 feet from the rim.
We followed the Sanup rim on canyon left, shown in the left photo below. We knew we could not get down the head of the canyon, but needed to follow the rim for a couple of miles. We spent a lot of time looking for a way through the Supai cliff bands. When we eventually found a place where we thought it might be possible, it was already a little after 3 PM. And we were very low on water. Since we figured we were probably close to half way to the canyon bottom, and since we didn't think we could get to water before dark, we decided to stop for the night rather than exhausting our water just to get a little farther. We had just enough water for dinner and breakfast the next morning.
I continued to listen to E. O. Wilson's The Meaning of Human Existence.
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