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Tapeats to Deer and back down


[Looking back at the Granite Narrows, in the Grand Canyon]

Today, Kris and I are in Josh's boat. Andy is, unsurprisingly, in the paddle boat. I think he likes it there. I feel a little bad about his always spending time in the paddle boat away from the two of us, but, well, I've invited him to our boats, and he's a big boy, he'll let us know if he feels like a third wheel, which I hope he doesn't.

Gah, a run-on sentence that deserves to be there.

We didn't float very long down the river before we stopped at Tapeats Creek for our day hike. The hike is called the Piano Hike because of a rock formation that looks like piano keys. I was unaware of this, so didn't know to take pictures of the formation.

After getting out of the boats, we all started our hike up the Tapeats Creek hike and around the Deer Creek. The hike was dry, and not nearly as hot as I was expecting it to be. Which is not to say it wasn't hot, just not as hot as I was expecting.

Our plan was to walk up the Tapeats Creek Trail to the Deer Creek Trail, and along it along the ridge. We would then descend into the Deek Creek Canyon. I hope I got that right. I'm not 100% sure on the Tapeats Creek part of the hike. I do know that the boats were ferried from our starting point to our ending point and that we missed the narrowest part of the canyon at Mile 135 beccause we bypassed it walking around it.

I started off slowly, in the back of the pack, which isn't a usual place for me on hikes. However, with all of the pictures I was taking and wanted to take, towards the back was just fine for me. Kris hiked with me today, as Andy forged ahead with the front group. Eventually, Kris and I caught up with other groups, passed the ones going more slowly, and kept behind those going more quickly.

So, yeah, the hike was hot, the landscape dry. It, of course, reminded me that we were not only in the Grand Canyon, but we were also in Arizona, in a desert. I know that Kris doesn't particularly like the heat, he'd rather be slightly cold than slightly hot, but I like the desert, I like the heat. Although I like the green of the Northwest (or, heck, even the Midwest), the desert has it's own beauty, drawn from the blues and browns of the arid landscape.

Kris commented to me that the hike reminded me of our trip to the Na Pali Coast, back in early 2001 (speaking of, I should digitize those negatives and put them up somewhere....). I said maybe, but not really. There was more vegetation on the Na Pali Coast. Way more.

Eventually we crested the ridge and looked over and down at lush green strip the Deek Creek cut across the landscape. We followed it down into a ravine with low rock shelves, small waterfalls, trees, and shade. We all gathered there, cooled in the water, and rested for a while.

After lounging for a while, the guides offered a short hike down into the slot canyon, requiring rope. At this point, I had a little stirring of memory from ten years ago, about not being able to climb down by the creek because the climb required ropes. I wasn't sure if this was the side canyon, but if not, we were in one like it a decade ago.

Andy and Kris both were excited to hike down. Sonia also wanted to go down, but her sandals had broken recently, so she was unable to hike down. I asked her what her foot size was (bigger than mine, but possible), and offered her my sandals, as I wasn't going down, and I could go in my hiking shoes. She seemed surprised, but accepted my offer. Tracy was also a bit surprised, but, well, Kris wasn't. If I'm not using them, why not let someone else use them?

Once again, I handed Andy my camera as he went down. Once again, he took awesome photos.

The ropes climb down and back up was slow enough going that there was a backup of people coming back up. Andy was at the front of the line, and popped out way before Kris, who was at the back of the line. Andy suggested we head out immediate, following the first group of guides heading down. I wasn't sure, feeling uncomfortable leaving Kris behind. We caught his attention, however, and asked if he minded. He didn't, so I climbed down with Andy.

The hike out started with a walk along the downstream side of the Deer Creek Canyon along a shelf. The shelf narrowed to the point where the walking space was 8"-10" wide, with handholds at chest level. Tracy was at the narrowest part, offering suggestions where to put feet and hands, as well as encouragement to cross. As I approached the narrowing, I wondered what my options were. When I realized there was one way down from this place that would work given the time constraints, I told myself "Nothing to be done about it, so go," and wasn't nervous or worried about the crossing.

A couple hundred yards later, we caught up to Al, who was taking pictures of graffiti on the walls. A set of handprints were spraypainted onto the side of the canyon wall, with another two sets painted high up, across the canyon wall. I looked at them, disinterested in the marring of the view, and continued on. Andy, on the other hand, paused to talk to Al.

Turns out, I had forgotten about these hand prints, that there were actually hand prints from hundreds of years ago (Anasazi maybe?) blown onto the walls using reeds. I wish I had stopped to take pictures. I didn't.

Andy and I continued down the trail, eventually spilling out into the Deek Creek Falls, where water thundered down the side of the canyon wall, and older people from another commercial trip sat playing bridge under umbrellas a short distance from the base.

I didn't take a picture of them either.

I'm sure this was the side canyon we hiked up ten years ago, based on the hike down.