Monday, November 2, 2015

Cathedral Wash Hike, Glen Canyon/Grand Canyon

 The kids had fall break part of last week, so we went to visit one of my brothers in the Grand Canyon. It's a long drive, so we broke it up with a hike at Cathedral Wash near Lee's Ferry. We turned up the road in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area towards Lee's Ferry, and at a big turnout at mile 1.3, parked. We found the "trail" went through a large culvert under the road. Then the "trail" ended. We were on our own going down the canyon towards the Colorado River. Cathedral Wash is a non-technical canyon, but with enough obstacles to keep the kids happy.

As we proceeded down canyon, the canyon walls grew higher.

We found lots of pools of water, and it was fun finding ways to skirt them.

It got more difficult as we went downstream, but there were lots of ledges.

The canyon goes down several dry waterfalls, but there are ways around them. Sometimes we were about 30 feet above the canyon floor. I didn't worry much about the kids, they are good climbers.

The last part was the least fun, just climbing over boulders and navigating around sticky mud. (Read--lots of kid whining!) But the reward was great--we made it to the Colorado River! We were now in Grand Canyon National Park.

Well, you know how kids are with water. They can't resist. They asked if they could go in the water, and I said sure. The water is released not far upstream from the Glen Canyon Dam and is only about 45 degrees F, so it's chilly. Nonetheless, they had fun.

The nearby rapids created some waves on the beach, so they did some wave hopping.

Desert Girl in particular seemed to really enjoy the water.

The kids would have liked to stay longer, but we still had to hike back and drive a couple more hours, so it was time to put the muddy shoes back on.

The hike back went smoother, the kids were now in a better mood after their playtime in the river. I find that they often go through various moods on any hike/bike. Overall they enjoy the experience, but there is bound to be some complaining at some point.

They were singing on the way back, so they had found their hiking groove.

I was awed by the scenery. I was also grateful the weather was cooperating. Flash flood debris was much higher than we were, so this is a place to stay out of when it's raining or there's a chance of rain.

Route finding was something we practiced on this hike. Rock cairns and muddy footprints were about all that gave hints to the best travel routes.

I offered the kids another chance to swim--but they declined.

Finally we were back to our big culvert entrance/exit. I was impressed with the steps they had poured to make access easier into the wash.

It was getting late so we didn't go down to Lee's Ferry (I'm hoping I will get to go there another time, perhaps on a river trip??), but we did stop at Navajo Bridge.

Desert Boy had said he wanted to float downstream on the Colorado River from Cathedral Wash. It looked like if he had, it would have been extremely difficult to get out at the bridge and make it up to the edge. I was fascinated by the mixing water--it's green coming out of the dam, but then the muddy tributaries start changing the river color.

Here's the bridge we crossed over Marble Canyon. It certainly makes travel a lot easier!
More of our canyon adventures to come...


Chitra Sundaram said...

Hi Gretchen - great blog! We are considering doing Cathedral wash when we visit in late august 2016. I was a bit concerned to read that the "trail" ends and we have to find our way to the CO river. Is it that easy to find our way? Dont want to get lost! Appreciate your advice and warnings.

Best Chitra

Desert Survivor said...

Chitra, you can hear the river, so you'll know what direction you need to go, it's just lots of climbing up and down the stream bank and over boulders. You can't really get lost. But you can get tired, take lots of snacks! :0

Vijay and Chitra Sundaram said...

Hi Gretchen - this is Chitra's husband, Vijay. Thanks for your answer above - very helpful. We are aware of the possibility of flash floods which would make Cathedral Wash unsafe to hike. How did you check up on this? Our thought was to call the local Visitors Center and ask, but since we would plan to start the hike early (6 or 7a), it would not be open at that time. What would you suggest we do?

best, Vijay

Desert Survivor said...

Vijay--look at the weather forecast, and if there's a big chance of rain, don't go. If there's a small chance, you can call the visitor center the day before and ask for their recommendation.

Vijay and Chitra Sundaram said...

Thanks Gretchen. I guess not completely full proof but prob best we can do. We also want to hike Buckskin Gulch, so I assume similar advice there. Have you hiked that and if so, how would you compare that with Cathedral Wash? Are they sufficiently different for it to be worth doing both?

many thanks again! Vijay

Desert Survivor said...

I've never done Buckskin Gulch but have heard it's fantastic and I think very different from Cathedral Wash. Have a fun trip!

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