Eminence to Upper Nankoweap Camp


I set up my tent the first night to prove I could do it. The second night I was on autopilot and did it again. After that no more tent, except for a night it rained just a bit and one it threatened to rain. Under the stars from now on, or in the case of this 1:34 AM photo, under the moon.

We traveled less than 9 miles downstream on our 4th day. But what a day it was. A hike into an other world of lush green and cool water that is Saddle Canyon. A hike up to the Granaries at Nankoweap to get a classic view of the Grand Canyon. At the Granaries, high above our camp, Nick described how the ancient Puebloan residents stored seed in the solid Redwall.

The early morning light on the cliffs was amazing — love those shadows.


Before breakfast, I spotted the trumpet flower of a Datura. It was a Datura wrightii or Sacred Datura, a dangerously hallucinogenic plant. I settled for just a photo.

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The large rock in the photo above has many very sharp edges. If you place your hand on it quickly and firmly you could start bleeding.

After some more photos of the shadows on the downstream cliff, we launched and glided past the Triple Alcoves that are in the background of the left hand photo. One alcove is shown at the right.

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We were on the river for less than an hour when we stopped for lunch. Well, we stopped at our lunch spot so we could hike into Saddle Canyon.

Most of us did not know what to expect for this hike, but the “wear your boat shoes, not you hiking shoes” suggestion should have been an indication. There was no water around as we hiked up the dry desert slope. But a long-ago landslide had created a dam in the canyon and silt built up creating exceptional growing conditions. A small steam provided the water. We soon dropped down into a different world, a very beautiful world. I don’t think I have ever seen grass as green as here.


I was torn between taking photos and keeping up. I compromised and did a bit of both. Then I got to a deep pool at about the same time as Stephen. We were not sure how deep it was because others had already crossed it. There were tricky cliffs on both sides so the only safe way to get through was to take some clothes off, hold cameras high, and wade through. Here I am walking through as captured by Stephen. Later on this page you can see a photo of Stephen descending into this pool on the return trip.


Beyond the pool was another challenge, a big scramble up over a rock. At the right below you can see Frank giving me a hand — I had passed my cameras up to Charlie who took this photo — with Stefanie looking on from below.

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We finally made it to the end of the hike-able part of the canyon and the waterfall. Stefanie did a nearly full immersion while I only went under part way. The water was cold.

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Below is the promised photo of Stephen returning and about to drop into the pool.

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On the right is an example of the very green grass in the canyon. I just wish I had several hours to linger and photograph. But I could not delay the others, the “sweeper” anyway, and lunch awaited on the beach.


After a leisurely lunch we cruised through 50 Mile Canyon and passed ET Rock seen at the far right in the photo on the right below.

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Our camp site for the night was the beautiful flat beach at Upper Nankoweap.


Our hiking for the day was not yet done. After setting up camp — a few of us left some tempting bags a bit too exposed for a raven — we climbed up to the Granaries at Nankoweap. The ancient Pueblo people constructed these around AD 1100 in the very durable Redwall, at the lowest elevation the Redwall reaches in this area. They served as seed stores in case crops were wiped out. The hike up took us past one of the classic views in the Grand Canyon.


The photo below is a 9-shot panorama taken from roughtly the elevation of the Pueblaoan granaries. You can see rectangular openings of the granaries, the folks from our group who made the hike up, our camp on the beach below, and the classic scene downstream. You can also see the broad area that was likely the farm and village. You also get the sense we are on the edge of a steep cliff.


Below is a 21-shot panorama that you can click 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. Because the image looks both left and right the scene is distorted. We are not actually in a cavern.

Here is an “artistic” version of some dead branches near Upper Nankoweap Camp. You can see a “straight” version of this in the slide show at the bottom of the page along with others from this wonderful Day 4.


Rondo had heated a shower bag of water on his dory, so I got a bath before dinner. This consisted of wandering out into the 45-50 degree river as far as I dared, soaping up, then getting under the “hot” (i.e. not cold) shower to rinse off. Stephen snapped a photo of me, but I will spare you from seeing that one.

The photo below was taken at 7:30 PM. The sun set several hours earlier; the light on the cliffs across the river is from the moon.


Please enjoy the slide show below from another outstanding day.