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A Grand Canyon Adventure for the Physically Fit

Posted Jun 01 2012 2:19pm

Little Colorado River Gorge near the Grand Canyon
Our Arizona adventure begins a short distance from the EAST (Desert View) entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park. .  From the top, it's straight down, 3000 feet to the bottom of the Little Colorado River Gorge, upriver from the great confluence with the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.  The first few rock cairns are easy to follow to an initial obstacle that right away makes you question your ability to complete this journey. 

Blue Springs descent
At this first major obstacle, follow the cairns to a pointed bridge-like rock structure sticking out of the wall.  As you navigate your way around the point, step across the bridge and ease your way along the other side by holding on tight and stretching your legs to the next foothold and your arms to the next handhold.  This is rock climbing, not hiking, only with a big pack.  You may want ropes to lower packs at times, especially in this spot, although we did it on the way up with our packs on.  Going down, we "gently" tossed our packs a couple times. 

Little Colorado River Gorge Once you've made it around the bridge and down, follow the cairns through the chasm.  After carefully stepping down the gully/wash/drainage filled with loose rocks, you will be on very exposed ledges making your way to the next major obstacle.  At this point, you're about half-way to the river, but may consider turning around when you come to this next, difficult move.  We did, but forged ahead and were glad we made it.

You'll know you've reached the next challenge when you see that the only way down is a ramp-like, rock  feature that descends sharply, with a gap between it and the wall on your right.  To maneuver down this safely, I went first, without my pack, leaning against the wall while supporting my legs with my feet pressed into the rock ramp.  Then it was just kind of a chimney walk down to where I could take the packs and wait for my partner to do the same thing. We cheered after clearing that obstacle, only to realize there were several more challenges ahead.   

Click here to read the full story for the best tip you are going to get on a Grand Canyon, Blue Springs Little Colorado River adventure ...

Pros and Cons of this Grand Canyon, Little Colorado River, Blue Springs adventure:
Pros
  • Shortest route into one of the most beautiful spots in the Little Colorado River Gorge.
  • Breathtaking scenery, especially at the bottom (with dry weather).
  • Pretty, clear blue spring water right from the source (depending on previous rains).
  • A nice beach to camp on.
  • Adventure and plenty of challenges.
  • Up is easier and faster than going down, believe it or not.
Cons:
  • Far from rescue (the trail itself is at the end of a bad road, 19-20 miles from pavement).
  • Mind-boggling, mood-altering moves hanging onto rocks that are basically falling apart while heavily exposed to serious, life-ending drops.
  • Light pack required.
  • Silty water from the Blue Spring that tastes funny and can be milky from recent rains, even after filtering.
  • A couple real scary sections and less than foot-wide paths much of the way down with thousand foot drops right next to you.


Click here to see more photos of our Blue Springs Adventure in the Little Colorado River Gorge near the Grand Canyon on our Facebook fan page .
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