Galloway to Stone Creek Up-and-Over Hike

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No getting wet this day; the 15 minutes of drizzle at 4:45 AM didn’t even do it because we had pitched tents as a precaution. This was the day for over 2000 feet elevation gain, and loss, over some very challenging parts including a “chimney”. As Nick described it the evening before (I’m paraphrasing): You have to be comfortable with heights. You will be standing on a small rock with nothing below you for 30 to 40 feet, and you will jump across the void to another rock. Then you will climb up and up and up in a narrow chimney in the cliff.

His description was pretty accurate. I do not fear heights, but I worried about carrying my camera while using both hands, both feet, and a knee or two to make it up. And I sure wasn’t going to leave my camera behind. Nick said, “that is what backpacks are for”. So I had the camera in hand for the trip except for the climb up the chimney and when I passed it up for one of the other tricky parts of our “hike”.

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We had breakfast and packed a lunch. I photographed some nice reflections, and before 9:30 we were heading up Galloway Canyon, seen on the right below.

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Here is a photo I copied from Google Earth. It shows our camp, the Dubendorff Rapid, and the area we hiked this day. I have labeled some of the spots; the only one I’m really sure of is where we camped. Perhaps others can correct my labels if they do not point to the right spots.

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We hiked up Galloway Canyon on the right. Then we climbed up and over ascending the chimney and crossing a narrow “bridge” and came back down Stone Creek Canyon on the left. That much I am sure about. We all made it. No one turned back and no one fell seriously. Some of us (me) got some bloody knees and others got lost temporarily. We did hear some stories along the way of past disasters, but we had heard them before about other spots we conquered on this trip.

This hike was challenging in many spots including right at the start. But we helped each other, and at the critical spots the boatmen were there to help. My guardians and helpers seemed mostly to be Roger and Charlie. Below left shows Charlie pulling Frank up with Roger pushing from behind.

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We worked our way up and up and up. Parts were an easy stroll. The day was beautiful, a perfect temperature with no wind.

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The photo on the left below shows the cliff that houses the chimney — actually many of them but apparently only one right one for a successful ascent. As you might be able to see, a chimney is basically a vertical gap in the cliff forming a narrow enclosed passage which one ascends mostly by bracing hands and feet on the side walls.

Below the cliff face is a fairly challenging “up” about a third of the way down from the top of the photo. On the right I struggle to climb a short but tricky piece as Charlie takes my photo.

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Roger with the red shorts is to the left of the chimney. To get to the chimney, the crack to the right of Roger, one scrambles through a hole in the rock to the jump-across place Nick mentioned. Perhaps at this point I noticed Nick did not come with us.

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Here is Roger near the tunnel to the chimney. On the right Pat and others are working their way up to this spot. This is where I go “black” — my camera gets stowed in my backpack until I make it all the way to the top of the chimney.

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The chimney was dark and about the closest to technical climbing I have ever done. But I made it, as we all did. On the left below Charlie is waiting to help Pat up the last bit. Below them in the darkness are many others still working their way up. On the right Pat sits on the top of the chimney. Behind him you might be able to make out a piece of the Dubendorff Rapid near our camp.

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Below are additional photos looking down the chimney, taken as I carefully stood near the edge. The photo on the right is a cropped version of the left one. You might be able to make out Frank waving his hat far below, in the center of top right quadrant.

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Below, Stefanie, Lew, and Charlie wait to assist those still in the chimney. The pieces of the chimney you see in these photos are actually the easier parts of the climb up the chimney.

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The photo below is a 400 degree 14-shot panorama from above the chimney. The left side is the right side. You can click this image to zoom way in then pan around. Please wait for the resolution to download. You can also use the + and – keys to zoom and the arrow keys to scroll. Or use the scroll wheel to zoom and the left mouse to drag.

On the far right you can see Stephen and Pat looking down at the top of the chimney which is to the left of them. Stephen appears to be photographing some of those still in the chimney using his iPhone. Directly below the peak on the right is the Dubendorff Rapid and the bottom of the Galloway Canyon where we started the climb far below. Above the peak is the waning moon. The canyon that fills most of the center of photo is Galloway. Stone Creek Canyon is reached by considerable more climbing over the walls on the left side of the photo followed by sometimes hairy descents to the left.

Eventually we all emerged from the chimney, but we still had quite a bit of climbing to do — some of it challenging. In the photo below, left to right, are Tony, Stephen, Charlie, Roger, Sean, Frank, Sarge, Pat, Lew, Duffy, Stefanie, and Nick.

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Roger figured that since he was considerably above the river he would be able to make a cell phone call. But no luck. Still he chose an interesting spot to stand while trying to place the call. On the right below I am looking down after another vertical scramble.

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Below is a photo Charlie took of me making that vertical scramble. The cliff that houses the chimney is far below me. On the right I photographed Frank climbing this piece with Stephen below him using a real camera now.

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One of the boatmen said to me during the hike, “you are leaking” referring to the blood from my knees and legs. Maybe the photo on the left explains my knee but I think my leg was an older wound. On the right you can perhaps make out my bloody knee.

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The photo below is a composite of 11 shots. You can click this image to zoom way in then pan around. Please wait for the resolution to download. You can also use the + and – keys to zoom and the arrow keys to scroll. Or use the scroll wheel to zoom and the left mouse to drag.

In this panorama you can see Roger on the left, perhaps still trying to get through on the phone or doing something else, but in any case looking down toward Galloway Canyon. Behind him to the right is Dubendroff Rapid where we started the climb. To the right of that in the gap between the rocks and to the left of my shadow is Stone Creek and its canyon. Sarge and Frank are to the far right.

A delicate part lay ahead. We had to cross a “bridge” with a steep drop of both sides. In this photo Stone Canyon is to the left of Frank, and Galloway Canyon is to the right.

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We made it across the bridge. Lew told us a story of how the earth dropped away on a previous trip taking a boatman, I believe, with it. He survived.

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Lew and Roger debated where to go. Down seemed to be the consensus so we descended into Stone Creek Canyon.

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Parts of the descent into Stone Creek Canyon were easy and parts were steep and challenging. If you examine the photo below you might be able to make out two groups of us at different levels.

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Here are two more photos of the descent into Stone Creek Canyon. In the one to the left Stephen seems to be thinking, “are we really going down that?”.

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Finally Stone Creek and a break for lunch — for some of us. But first there were photos that needed taking. A tripod would have been nice to get a longish shutter speed to blur the falls. Still, I was able to brace my camera to get a sharp photo of the rocks at a long enough shutter speed to blur the water.

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The falls were quite beautiful. I just love photographing moving water, perhaps because of all the classes in fluid dynamics I took in my former life.

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There were some nice motifs upstream of these cascades, one filled with Cardinal Monkeyflowers.

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After a leisurely lunch we worked our way down the canyon, the really challenging parts behind us. Still, there was a lot of “down” left — and more beautiful falls.

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Funny, up to this point I didn’t notice Stefanie was carrying a purse.

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On the left below are the cascades that one sees in the guidebooks. We are getting closer to the Colorado River, but there were still places to get in trouble or get lost. Nick walked ahead of the group and logically continued downhill. But the best way to go down was to go up first. In the photo on the right Tony is pointing to Nick, and Charlie is yelling for him to backtrack.

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After passing some nice scenes we made it back to camp and had a bit of time before dinner to relax.

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It was going to be a dry and warm night so we had to decide how to deal with our tents: remove the fly and sleep inside, leave it set up and sleep next to it, or take everything out, take it down, and move everything back to the spot where the tent was. The later strategy seemed like the most work so naturally it was the one I followed. Stephen found a large flat rock next to his tent and put his pad and bag there.

Charlie expertly grilled pork which was served with applesauce, salad, quinoa, and carrot cake.

When I set up near our campfire to photograph the Milky Way inspite of passing clouds, Stefanie suggested I move to the river to get it reflected there. Thanks, Stefanie.

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Please enjoy the slide show that follows.

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