The Grand Eight: Day 7 and Epilogue
The first part of the last day was simple: climb up Scotty’s Hollow until the drainage gives way, then turn right and climb up a steep slope to the rim. The second part was less so: walking two miles of road to my car, driving as close to Brendan’s truck as possible in said car, mountain biking the rest of the way, then getting all vehicles back to pavement.
First things first. Scotty’s ended up being a riotous canyon hiking playground; part gorgeous hike, part waterpark, part bouldering obstacle course.
We had one very brief swim, a bunch of wading, and some thought-demanding boulders to climb up. One pool ran wall to wall in the heart of the polished limestone, with a gentle but steady and algae-slicked spout. Brendan tried it, but retreated to stow the camera. It took me a good half-dozen increasingly hilarious slides back into chest deep water to crack the code with a full body stem/smear. A couple boulder sequences required similar attempts to summit.
Not as deep or long as 150, but I can’t recall a more fun 90 minutes of foot travel, ever.
The 1500′ final slope wasn’t joy-fun, but it was rewarding to grind out elevation in such a stark and direct fashion.
Slope from bottom.
Back down from halfway up. We climbed out the obvious near drainage. Kanab runs left to right in the middle distance.
Looking up, same halfway spot.
We went right at the top, when we ought to have gone left, and added spice with some 5.easy cliff bands on rotten rock. I was in the zone in way I haven’t been in years on such terrain, and it floated past my eyes, with me confident I wouldn’t break anything. My big pack and I didn’t weigh anything for those 15 minutes, you see.
And as only the Grand Canyon is, we topped out and it was over. Take 20 steps into the junipers and that canyon of canyons of canyons might never have been there.
The car shuttle/retrieval took quite a while, but some careful rut straddling with my car got us within a mile of the NPS border, from which point the bike ride back to the beginning was quick and fun. We fled to the pavement, then to Hurricane for mexican food, and went our separate ways, sure to meet again soon. There might be nothing so simple and rich as a backcountry executed well and ended.
To be basic, I would do this route again with no modifications. There are certainly plenty of variations possible, many that would add more technical beef, but the variety we had was fantastic.
Do not do this trip without a very solid partner, and make sure you’re firing on all cylinders yourself. The terrain is relentless, and the opportunities to get hurt or let your spirit break are all but constant.
Brendan and I both ran light shoes; Inov8 Trailroc 235s for him, LaSportiva Anakondas for me. The agility and traction were vital, but having the leg and joint strength to carry 40 pounds with these shoes on that terrain is a goal which took us both years to achieve. As seen above, I lost 60-70% of the forefoot tread over the course of the trip, the cost of sticky rubber. It was absolutely worth it.
For technical gear we had a 120′ Imlay Canyon Gear pullcord, 120′ Bluewater Canyon Pro, BD Couloir harnesses and the minimum of rapping and ascending gear. As light as it gets, and everything worked very well. The Couloirs won’t be super durable for canyoneering, but are quite comfy and meet their 8 ounce spec once you cut off the belay loop (which are stupid on daiper-style harnesses).
Our Alpacka Scouts and full sized four piece paddles were overkill. If I did these sort of trips a lot, I’d invest in a lighter boat and paddle from Supai, Klymit, or Flytepacker.
This is not a route for shorts. Light pants are vital given the brush and heat.
I purchased a Mountain Hardwear Way2Cool t-shirt in Springdale the day before we started, at 50% off. It was fantastic. Together with the BD Alpine Start hoody (which held up to bushwacking incredibly well), it addressed 95% of the conditions we had. We both had puffy coats for camp/sleeping, and a fleece shirt or vest for the cold canyons. This last was only really used in 150 Mile, but there it was absolutely vital. We brought but never used light neoprene socks. The wading was surprisingly warm the whole trip.
We both slept in light down bags/quilts, on Thermarest Prolite XSs. Given that the best camps were often on bare rock, I consider an inflatable pad mandatory. We both carried, but never used, small tarps.
We each had burly trekking poles, modified with the light and comfortable Gossamer Gear grips. They got stowed plenty, but there were even more occasions when having two stout poles was essential.
I built a simple, 1000D cordura pack around the Paradox 24″ frame and hipbelt, along with the Hill People Gear shoulder harness. It worked superbly. I’ve never done a trip of this length with a pack of this weight without pretty significant bruising on my hips. To eliminate that entirely, as well as have ideal stability over some fiendish terrain, is a massive achievement. 1000D on the main body, and a double layer of 500D on the bottom, was not overkill. I put a few small holes in each.
All that remains in the inevitable question: what’s next?