October 19, 2016
Through the Lower Narrows of Vishnu Canyon
Today's route stats:Distance: 2.5 miles Elevation Gain: 0 feet Elevation Loss: 900 feet
Today was a big unknown for Ben and I. All I knew about the lower narrows through the Vishnu schist was what I had read in Tom Martin's book Day Hikes From the River. Tom, in describing hiking up Vishnu, said that there were a "series of pools and waterfalls you will need a team to climb." He also mentions a 50 foot high waterfall that can be bypassed on creek-right. But conditions often change due to floods scouring out pools or filling in others. I was really looking forward to this day, but with a bit of trepidation. We brought along 40 feet of 1/2-inch webbing, just in case.
For a while the going was easy, but we soon came to our first pouroff/waterfall. This would be the first of about a half dozen. All were relatively easy to down-climb, but we lowered packs on a couple of them. And Ben, who is a better climber than me, belayed me down one of them. It was impossible to tell exactly where we were. But eventually we rounded a corner and sighted the River. Everything seemed pretty gloomy down in the depths of Granite Gorge.
We now needed to get out of Vishnu Canyon and up-canyon to the pull-in described by Tom. To do this you need to climb up and over a shoulder of schist and granite, about 70 feet above the River. Here there is a tiny patch of sand and a good view up-canyon. We arrived around 10:30 and started looking for our cache, which we located in just a few minutes. Now all we had to do was wait for a river trip. We planned to spend the night at the wonderful beach on the other side of the River. If we didn't get a ride today, the tiny beach would have to do as our campsite, though it would have been pretty uncomfortable.
After about two hours we spotted a raft trip. We flagged them over and they were happy to give us a ride to the other side. Once there, the boaters set up a table for lunch and invited us to join them. It was wonderful to get fresh fruit and veggies. After they departed, we were left on a wonderful, flat and very wide beach. River runners have named this beach "Grapevine Camp", and apparently it is coveted by many river trips. We thought there was a good chance that another raft party would stop here for the night, but we saw no other river trips. So I spent the afternoon napping and listening to audio books.