Day 5

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. 


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