A Visit to Mystic Spring;
Checking out the Pt. Huitzil Route

Friday-Sunday, Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, 1995

by Dennis Foster

G. W. James called this "Seal Head Rock" in his book, In and Around the Grand Canyon.

Click on any picture to see a larger image.

     With picture perfect weather and a three day weekend, I decided to make a quick trip up to the South Bass trail and check out a couple of points of interest.  First and foremost on my list was to search for the lower end of the "Point Huitzil" route, which connects the South Rim with the Esplanade level.  I had read through the trail logs of Harvey Butchart on this score.  He made many attempts before finding the exact route.  Based on his description, I thought that it might be easier to locate this route from the bottom (i.e., the Esplanade) than from the top.
     Secondly, I wanted to search for Mystic Spring, which had been used by W. W. Bass back in the day.  The spring is assumed to be dry today, but may have been rather unreliable even a hundred years ago.  In George Wharton James' book, In and Around the Grand Canyon, he wrote (page 154), "Now and again it disappears entirely."   James' book, published in 1900, is one of my absolute favorites.  [Well, his later book, Grand Canyon of Arizona, is also pretty good.]  Harvey Butchart also made a number of attempts to find this spring before success.  Eventually, he took along an old photo to help fix the spot.  I did the same, copying a couple out of James' book.

Day 1 (Friday, September 29, 1995):  I left my home in Flagstaff at about 7 a.m. and was on the South Bass trail four hours later.  The 30 miles of dirt road got progressively worse and worse as I neared the rim.  The last 5-10 miles were especially slow.  I brought along my microcassette recorder for trail notes and a complete transcription appears below, although parts were obscured by the wind.
     The trail slices down through the Kaibab and Toroweap layers and past some intriguing Indian ruins.  I stopped to take a closer look and to get some pictures.  It isn't far to the Esplanade and I reached that at about 12:30 p.m.

Stone house remains at Bass.  Indian ruins above Coconino. Note ruins on ledge to the right.
     There is a trail along the Esplanade and the junction was well-marked.  I have followed it many times and it does get fainter and fainter as you get further away from the the South Bass.  I decided to hike along here for just about ten minutes and stop for lunch.  Then, I packed up my fanny bag and left everything else here as I went looking for Mystic Spring.  It is located on the other side of Mount Huethawali and I will have to return to this spot to continue on to find a camping spot closer to the Pt. Huitzil route.
     I decided to contour around Huethawali along the east side, even though the spring more properly is on the west side.  But, I wanted to follow the trail for as long as possible.  That worked out pretty well, although I had to backtrack when the trail started down the cliff, in order to continue along on a more suitable level.  While Mt. Huethawali seems like a big scoop of ice cream (well, to me, anyway), that is actually an illusion.  It it quite narrow, making this contour go pretty quickly.  As I crossed Huxley Terrace, I got a glimpse of Spencer Terrace, where Mystic Spring is located.
     As I got to the area of the spring, I was afraid that I would have to climb down quite a ways.  But, the spring is very near to the Esplanade level.  No wonder it is dry now!  It's hard to imagine what is going on geologically to have created a spring out here on this rather isolated terrace.  But, I spotted the famous "Seal Head Rock," that appears in James' book.  I can't say it really looks like a seal, but it does look like a head with an eye.  It only took me an hour to get here from my lunch spot.
     It didn't take me too much longer to locate the spring area.  I matched up photos with James' and poked around a bit.  There was a bit of a retaining wall that looked like it would create a floor, perhaps for a tent structure.  There is also a little tunnel here, although I didn't bother to poke through it.  I found a pick axe and few old cans laying around.  But, the spring was bone dry.
     I got to wondering why Bass used this site - it is certainly not on the way to anywhere!  I did notice that you can see a piece of the river from here.  I suspected that it would serve as a good place to bring tourists - a short trip from the rim, water at the site and views of the river.  So, when I returned, I decided to review the story James tells in his book and the following passage speaks to the fact that this site was used by Bass before he had a trail all the way down to the bottom of the canyon.  I gather that Mystic Spring was, for some time, the destination of Bass' forays into the canyon:
From In and Around the Grand Canyon (1900):

Chapter 15 - Three Days of Exploring in Trail Canyon with the Wrong Companion

(p. 160)  "Trail Canyon is that inner side gorge down which the Mystic Spring Trail leaves Le Conte Plateau on its way to the river.  On one of my visits some years ago, before this portion of the trail was constructed, I determined, if possible, to reach the Colorado down this canyon.  Mr. Bass had been down several times, and, although he warned me that it would be rather a hard trip, he felt sure I could make it."

(p. 164)  "We were indeed in a terrible quandary.  No water, very little provision, a day and a half, at least, from Mystic Spring Camp..."

(pp. 167-168)  "Again we started, and slowly labored on, and just as the last sip was taken from our canteen, we came to the final climb, helped each other up to the Mystic Spring Trail...  One of us had to go to Mystic Spring - three miles away - for help...  In about an hour and a half - it seemed an age - Mr. Bass's partner hallooed as he crossed the Winchell Ridge, and soon after, with two extra horses, and two generous canteens filled with the refreshing water of Mystic Spring, rode up, and we were saved...  After this it was an easy ride, and a delightful arrival at Mystic Spring..."

     One of the unusual things I found here were some droppings that appeared to me to be from wild burros.  There was a huge effort to remove these burros from the canyon in the early 1980s (see this article, and if you have the time peruse this collection at NAU).  So, are there still some out here?  I am pretty sure I saw some in this area in the late fall of 1981, which was after the roundup was over.

My picture of Seal Head Rock, taken
in 1995, and the photo that appears
in G. W. James' In and Around the
Grand Canyon
, published in 1900
and appearing on page 153.  Note
that in his photo there is someone
standing in the background!

Click on the composite photo below (or, any photo) to see a larger image.

My photo from 1995 and a copy of the one from G. W. James' book (In and Around the Grand Canyon, 1900, p. 155).
The shadows are so similar that it appears that by coincidence I happened to take my picture at the same time
of day as did James!  The caption on James' photo reads, "Burros drinking at Mystic Spring."
From behind Seal Head Rock.  Wall that creates a floor of sorts. The tunnel.
Mystic Spring & Mt. Huethawali ... ... matches the photo Butchart used. Mt. Huethawali from the trail.
     I poked around the spring area for about a half hour and, at 3 p.m., headed on my way back to the trail and my pack.  I decided to continue contouring around Huethawali, so this little excursion took me all the way around it.  It took about fifteen minutes to hike back along Spencer Terrace to a point where I could begin to contour in earnest.  Along the way I passed two mescal pits, side by side with one another, which seems unusual.  By 4 p.m. I was back on the Bass trail.  The going was straightforward, if not as easy as coming around the east side.  Ten minutes later I reached my pack and was soon ready to push on to a camping spot.
     It took me an hour and a half to reach a suitable place to stop, below Toltec Point.  I chose this because I needed to get water and the only sure source I knew of was the Chemehuevi Spring, located in the canyon just to the east of Toltec.  It was almost 6 p.m. and I rushed to assemble my empty pack and some water containers so I could be on my way to make this water run.
     It only took me ten minutes to hike back to a spot where I could start up this side canyon.  The seep spring is at the base of the Coconino at the very end of this little bay.  I picked a route and climbed up to the cliff.  I wasn't sure which way to go, so I went right.  That was wrong, so I came back left and found the seep and a small pool of water.  There was a pipe here, but I thought I had once seen a metal trough here as well (back in the 1980s).  While I had thought to collect a lot of water and bring it back to camp for processing, because of the small amount in the pool, I decided to pump it directly into my water containers.  I started at about 6:40 p.m. and finished up 25 minutes later.  My trek back down was pretty miserable, with me fighting through the brush all the way back to the trail.  I didn't get back to camp until almost 8 p.m., weary and ready to finally make dinner.

Day 2 (Saturday, September 30, 1995):  I missed my alarm and didn't get up until 7 a.m.  It was cold enough to be wearing my coats, but once the sun reached me, it was quite pleasant.  The skies were blue and it looked like it was going to be a good day.  By 9:30 a.m. I was on my way.  I carried my regular pack with food and water.  Then, when I reach a place to leave the trail and head up to find the Huitzil route, I'll break it down into just what I need to carry in my fanny bag.
     I spent two hours hiking around to the creek bed between Montezuma and Huitzil.  The trail comes and goes and crossing ravines can be slow going.  There was a big water pocket in this bed that would have more than sufficed for me had I known about it.  So it goes.  I stopped and ate lunch and hung up my pack as I headed up the hillside to search for the route.
     I wandered around for another couple of hours and came up empty.  I found a few suspect places, but nothing panned out.  So, I had to call it quits and head back to camp.  [Later, when I did find this route, from the top, it turned out that I was just yards away from the bottom.]  It took me an hour to reach my cached pack (actually, hanging up in a tree).  It still took two more hours to reach my camp and it was after 6 p.m. when I pulled in there.

I think this is Montezuma Point! 

A pan of Pt. Huitzil.  Arrow points to twin Toroweap towers.
The route comes down from the right of that spot, which
I found a couple of months later.

Day 3 (Sunday, October 1, 1995):  I was up at 5:30 a.m. and on my way a bit past 7:30 a.m.   I was able to start back with two liters of water, which was my intent.  So, the water I was able to get at Chemehuevi turned out to be all I needed.  In two hours I reached the South Bass trail and at about 10:30 a.m. I reached the rim and the parking area.  A half hour later I was ready to head home.  When I got to the boundary road, I decided it might be worthwhile taking it back to the Village, to avoid the badly rutted route I had come in on.  It still took an hour and a half to reach the dirt road near Rowe Well.  At times I had to get into 4WD to get through some spots.  I noted that the road to Eremita Mesa was now blocked off.

Chemehuevi Spring. 

My campsite & Mt. Huethawali. 

The trail along the Esplanade
is in pretty good shape through
this section of the canyon.

Looking across the Esplanade.

Packing up to leave.
     Postscript - I did (as noted above) finally find the Point Huitzil route and have been through it a few times.  One of those hikes has already been posted up as Pt. Huitzil to the South Bass Trail Day Hike, which I did more than ten years after this hike!

Appendix - Micro-cassette Transcript  [Tapes 7b & 8a]
Text in brackets [ ] were added to the transcription.

Point Huitzil route.  It is Friday September 29th, [1995] and the weight of my pack is 44 pounds.

It's 7 oíclock and Iím just about to leave the house.  My mileage reads 26,057.2.

Itís 8:59, and I am on the road to the Bass trailhead.  It is about five miles along the road from Moqui to the road that leads to Pasture Wash.  And, I have just reached that point right now.  I left there at about 8:48.

It is 10:17, and Iím at the trailhead.  The mileage reads 26,175.4 and it has been about thirty miles since I left Moqui lodge and also that would be about an (hour and twenty minutes or) hour and a half.  So quite a while.  The last 10-15 miles is pretty slow out here.  There isnít anybody else out here.  There was a vehicle parked right at the boundary gate, but on the other side.  So, it may be that I wonít see anybody for this whole trip. 

It is 11:04, and I am all set to head on down the trail.  It is a very nice day.  Very pleasant.  It was perfectly blue skies when I came here and still to the south thatís true; and overhead.  There are some clouds, however, over the canyon and the weather forecast was for some possible afternoon thunder storms.  So, those may be building up.

Itís 11:35, and I have stopped just above the break through the Coconino to check out some of these Indian ruins here in this spot.  Maybe get a couple of photographs.  So Iíll be here for a little while.

It is 11:57.  The ruins that are here are up above the trail, to the left of a point which is pretty easy to identify, because thereís some barbwire and itís still hooked up to some of the trees and some old poles - here itís to fence off this spot from keeping the stock from wandering up or down.  And there are three sites there that I got a close look at and got some photos of.  The ridges up above me, (before the) up above where I am, thatís before this point, turned out to be just places where the deer wander but no flat enough spots for some sites to have been built.  And so I am on my way.

It is 12:35.  I am at the trail junction on the Esplanade.  The rock cairn with the tree root that Harvey talks about is no longer here, but the junction is well marked with rocks lining the path going in each direction here for a piece.  So, real easy spot to figure out.  Itís still pretty nice.  The breeze has kicked up a bit.  The clouds have been rolling in, but still a lot of blue sky, so very pleasant.  Pleasant going so far.  I did hear some hoots from up above when I was coming down through the Coconino so somebody has reached the trailhead and perhaps will be hiking down.  I do want to take a day hike out to Mystic Springs and it sure seems that Iím going to have to come back to this junction to stay atop of these Supai Cliffs so Iím just planning to hike back along here for about ten or fifteen minutes and stop and have lunch, pack up some water, and then head on back for a day hike.

Itís 12:41, and Iíve reached the spot that I think is nice enough for lunch and so Iíll think over my options here.

It is 1:17, and Iím all through with my lunch and have packed up my fanny bag to go look for Mystic Springs.  I will allot a little bit of time here to do this so that I can get back and get back on the trail here and get a campsite and get some water tonight.  So, itís not definite that Iíll make it.  So, on my way.

It is 1:37, and I have just reached the part where the trail descends down into the canyon, here over the edge of the Supai cliffs.  So, I am backtracking a little bit because I am somewhat below where I would like to be as I contour around Mount Huethawali and it looks like I can pretty much just pick a spot head on up and then start contouring around.  Iíve decided to follow the trail as far as I could, as Harvey mentions coming around the east side and then the north side of Mount Huethawali.  And, so, that it what Iíll do to try to get to Mystic Springs and then Iíll decided about whether I want to just keep coming around when I come back.

It is 1:51.  I have just contoured around to the north side of Mount Huethawali and it is (very nice trip, it is) a very nice trip.  While it looks like a big round mountain from the Bass trailhead, itís actually a very narrow one.  So while it seems that itís going to take quite a while to contour around it, it actually goes very quickly.  I got up through the cliffs easily enough.  I was able to keep an angle and pick and chose some spots to keep working my way up here to really the bottom of the Hermit shale.  It is reasonably level Ė hilly - but easy enough to walk along.  And the vegetation is rather sparse so the going is really very quick and very easy. I have just passed the part that leads out to Huxley Terrace and have Spencer Terrace in my sights and Iím heading over for that.  

It is 2:36, and I am at the Seal Head Rock.  I slowed down as I got closer to where I thought this would be and stopped even and reread Harveyís notes and managed to work my way down.  It is very close to the Esplanade level.  It seems that you might have to go through many, many cliff levels to get to a seep spring but this is mighty, mighty close.  So anyway I have reached the Seal Head Rock.  I recognized the tell tale eye in it from Jamesí picture and right behind it is the little bridge that Harvey mentions that is hardly more than just a few feet off the ground.

It is 3 oíclock, and Iím heading back.  I am just near the Seal Head Rock on my way out of here.  And I can see a piece of the river from here.  It is a piece that is just having gone around the bend, around (monument) Explorers Monument.  It is a little breezy and very pleasant.  The sky is mostly clear.  A few clouds off on the sides but nothing impinging on me, and it has been very comfortable hiking.  I found a pick axe at the campsite but I didnít see any the [pails?] Harvey mentions.  I also found a couple of old tin cans laying around and there were a couple of walls that did appear to be forming some kind of a [level/elevated?] floor system there under that overhang to make that a more reasonable kind of campsite.  There was absolutely no water at the seep.  The ground was bone dry.  The little tunnel was very amazing that lead to an opening that these three or four trees were growing out through.  Quite an interesting place, all things considered.  I am still puzzled though, as [wind obscures words]  as a place as a campsite that you canít get anywhere from here.  You have to turn around and go back unless it was to bring people to the one site where you can actually see the river, although [wind obscures words] a little bit out of the way, considering as how you can go down [wind obscures words]  Now, back to find a campsite.

It is 3:18, and I have reached pretty much the beginning here of Spencer Terrace.  And Iím going to start contouring around to the west.   It looks like it should be pretty easy going.  Right here at this spot, at the base of some rather large Supai boulders, that form the vestige of a higher level (as they) as that level disappears heading down to the terrace, there are two very large mescal pits that I passed on the way in.  Very interesting kind of site.  These two pits are side by side which makes them even more interesting.

It is 3:58.  I am back on the trail.  Contouring around the west side of Mount Huethawali was pretty easy.  The walking [quat?] wasnít as open as it was going along the east side, but I didnít have to do any of the contouring along narrower sections as I did between Huxley and Spencer Terraces.  The key to contouring that side is to hop the saddle between Mount Huethawali and a small hill to the west, that is pretty visible.  And that will make that a pretty short trip.  As I was coming back here towards the trail, I saw a rock cairn and headed for it, but ended up at the top of a cliff.  It may be that there was a break somewhere in there.  I continued along the cliff for a piece until I hit a rather big ravine and I used it to work my way down through the first couple of cliff levels and then I continued to contour over towards the saddle here between Garnet and Bass.  And so I have caught the trail once again.  The trail is a little bit below the high point on the west side of this saddle.  So it seems that I could have found another break here where I could have come down that ravine and headed more or less straight across here and then climbed up to the trail as well.  So on to my pack.  It is still a very pleasant day.  Just a little warm when the breeze isnít blowing, since the sun is shining quite bright.  But, all in all still very nice.  And the sky is blue.  I can see a small crescent moon overhead that will be kind of nice to deal with for a couple of days.

It is 4:08 and I am just passing through the ďYĒ junction.  Just a short ways down the trail before reaching the ďYĒ thereís a mescal pit that the trail goes right through the edge of, so very easy to spot.

It is 4:11 and I am back at my pack.  So what a nice afternoon trip.  Iíll be here for a few minutes repacking and having a little bit to drink before heading on.

It is 4:28 and Iím on my way.
     A postscript on Bassí camp at Mystic Springs.  In the campsite there, I saw a number of rather large droppings, which would seem to mean burros.  It seems like it would be rather surprising, but it must be true that these have been there since Bassís time, in the early 1900ís.
     Unless they are there from burros that had roamed around this area into the 70ís, but the spring as been dry for a long, long time so that might not be a very likely prospect.  [Harvey suspects the water was seasonal, and the presence of potholes may have attracted the wild burros.]

Itís 5:50, and Iíve reached a campsite at the point here - Toltec Point - on a little saddle between the trail and a rocky hill.  Iím going to try to get things set up and organized in the next ten minutes and then make a run back to get some water.

Itís 7:56 and Iím back at my campsite.  It seems like every night I get home late.  I left at 6:05 and got over there pretty quickly - in eleven minutes - then started climbing.  I picked a ridge that looked like I couldnít be too far wrong from the seep.  And, the going was pretty slow in some places, in climbing and things like that, and I pretty much gave up the idea of bringing down a big bucket of water.  I just didnít think it would work out.  And I got up to near the bottom of the Coconino and I couldnít tell which way to go, so I went to the east since that was rather close.  There was nothing there, under that overhang.  So then I went to the west which really is the very heart of the ravine here.  So it isnít off to the side itís really right there.  And I got up to the seep and there was just a little bit of water in the pool.  I didnít see the trough, I thought I had seen one once before.  The pipe is still there and the pools seem to only have an inch of water in it so rather than try and scoop it out, I decided to go ahead and pump directly into my water bag and my water bottles.  So, I did that and left.  I got there at about 6:40 and I left at 7:05.  It was dark.  Coming down was just awful.  A lot of brush to fight with at first.  Eventually, of course, got down to the bottom and coming along the trail back to camp turned out to be pretty easy.  So quite a trip to get some water.  I hope I have enough for the rest of my trip.  It is a little breezy, but it feels pretty nice.  The moon is out, but the stars are very bright too because the moon is only about a quarter, or so, and shining on the Coconino walls of Chemehuevi Point makes for quite a nice view, quite a nice vista here tonight.  [Crickets in the background.]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Saturday, September 30th.  It is 9:25.  Last night I got to bed about 9:30.  I didnít feel too much like eating, but I did fix my noodles and managed to eat about half of them before giving in to sacking out.  At about 12:30 I woke up and decided to finish my now very cold noodles.  Still it was quite tasty at that time.  I was a little bit restless sleeping.  I had this strange kind of continuing dream that I was teaching people how to backpack in a Microsoft Windows environment.  It was all very confusing.  Still the night was cool.  A little breeze occasionally, and the stars were out so that was very nice viewing over the course of the night.  In the morning I didnít hear my alarm go off and I woke up when the sky was getting kind of bright at about 7 oíclock.  The spot I have here gets the sun very late in the morning.  In fact, just about as late as you can out here without being deep inside one of these ravines.  The sun comes up over the highest point on the rim here from where Iím camped, so it wasnít until some time after about 8/8:30, that the sun really started to hit the campsite.  It was quite cool in the morning.  I was wearing both of my coats, although once the sun did poke out, it has warmed up to be very pleasant.  It is a clear blue sky.  I donít see a single cloud anywhere.  It is cool and pleasant.  No breezes yet and so now Iím on my way over to the Point Huitzil route.  I have decided to pack up quite a few things in my regular pack, including about four liters of water and will hike to as far as I need to go along the Supai and then break that down into my fanny bag for hiking up through that route.  This way I can decide to eat lunch either on the Supai or up higher and I can bring plenty of water so that Iím not going to have to worry about trying to carry all that water just on my fanny bag.  I seem to have plenty of water.  Iím sure I have enough for today and as long as tomorrow morning I got a couple of quarts when I leave then Iíll have just enough (to) retrieved at Chemehuevi seep for this particular trip.  So now itís on to along the Supai here to see what I can see.  This morning I read through Harveyís notes on this particular route and I am hopeful that Iíll be able to catch some of these breaks that he was writing about.  

It is 11:32.  I am in the bed of the drainage here that runs between Montezuma and Point Huitzil.  And it has taken quite a while to get here.  I was thinking it might be just an hour but after an hour I was just barely beginning to start contouring around Montezuma Point, which is quite a big point to contour around.  I thought I had lost the trail for a bit, but I picked up some trail, maybe it was a different trail, but it was cairned.  And it lead along kind of a narrow ledge here into this ravine where I found that I could drop down and then it looks pretty easy to climb back up to the other side rather than continuing to contour back into this area.  So I stayed at that level for a bit as I saw a couple of overhangs that looked like they might be the ones Harvey mentions but they didnít pan out.  And from down here I canít tell what overhang he was looking at so perhaps as I get up I will be able to better judge that.  I saw what looked like his route down through the Coconino.  It seems that it was kind of easy to identify a spot where the rappel would be but that has gone out of sight as well and Iíll be able to see that as I get up to the top of these cliffs.
     And, in the bed there was a little pool of water.  In fact, quite a pool of water.  Iím sure it was three or four gallons worth anyway and it doesnít seem to be part of a series of pools although the creek bed here does drop away rather quickly, and I wouldnít be surprised if there are some further down.  But right in here it seems a little exposed and yet there it was.  Sitting right in the middle of the creek bed.  At least it will be a nice place to get my kerchief wet. 

It is 12:27.  I had a rather pleasant lunch here and rested for a bit and am now headed up.  I have decided to pack up my fanny bag and just take that from here on and Iíve hung my pack up in a tree.  It should be a pretty easy spot to catch coming back since the overhang that I was checking out is rather prominent right here and there are some rock cairns right in the bed here to either indicate a way to cross or a way to go down the creek bed.  So on to check out this route.

It is 12:58 and Iíve climbed up to the sort of flat high part here in the Esplanade in front of Point Huitzil and am crossing a big mescal pit so the first signs here that Iíve got of the Indian usage.  Now Iíll continue around the point and look for the route.

It is 1:47.  I am at the base of the Coconino at what appears to be the right spot to catch the bench that Harvey mentions that comes up above a little Supai drop or rather a Hermit shale drop off.  I have been along the base of the Coconino her for a little bit, checking out (four different) three different (sites) possible routes on my way to this spot.  And each one had some kind of a drop in it that looked impassible.  From further away I could see this route and it looks like thereís a tricky spot part way up here but that may be where Harvey talks about the Moki steps being located so hopefully that will work out pretty well.  So Iím stopped in the shade of a tree here, have a little water for a moment, and then head on up.
     I did pass a little bit of a seep underneath one of the overhanging ledges here in the Hermit shale.  Just a couple of drops coming down and the wall was a little bit wet and the ground was damp but it didnít seem like anything was accumulating or that you could really pull much off of here, but still something thatís wet there.

Itís 2:23, and Iím on my way back to camp.  I climbed up a little bit in the Coconino.  I followed this shelf here for a bit, climbed up pretty nicely, but then I reached a spot that was rather exposed, was kind of a drop about three or four feet drop down to a little ledge and then a five or six foot drop below that to another bench.  And I just didnít like the way it looked.  So I looked at it for a while, but then I came back and picked up my bag and am now headed back.  It may be that those ledges are what Harvey refers to as the Moki steps although they were in the side of the wall not along a smooth sloping surface.  I did check out two or three other possibilities for getting through that spot - nothing really went.  The spot where I was there was a little detached rock, or a big detached rock, with an opening behind it that you could pass through to the other side right above this drop and thatís as far up as I got.
     A footnote on this route.  It would seem to be kind of a nice idea to come over and try to do at least some of the route around here as part of a day hike.  I can see the twin towers that Harvey talks about in the Toroweap.  Sort of a darkish, yellowish, brownish color.  I believe those are the ones he is referring to because they do stand out.  Anyway if one was to come along and look for the break in the top of the Coconino, itís a very good question as to where exactly thatís going to be.  From up in that region I think youíll be able to see a detached rock, kind of detached with a big shadow behind it sticking near the top of the Coconino and that seems to define the end of the bench that I was pursuing.  So, I believe that is approximately where the trail would have doubled back and then climbed up through the final level to reach the bench right above the Coconino.

It is 3:35, and Iím back in the creek bed where my pack is hanging up.  I rested for a few minutes at the top of the cliff here before coming down in.  The rock cairn I left on protruding rock is a quite noticeable landmark for the walk up through that last part.  And I reread Harveyís notes about the overhang and took a little closer look around here.  Iím going to try to walk up the creek a bit to see if I can see anything and if not then Iím going to head back out at this level and thereís a big flat area in the next side ravine that might be where the mescal pits he mentions are located.  If so, then that would be the site of the overhang.

It is 4:20, and I am all set to leave.  I spent about a half hour walking up the creek bed here and then coming back along a ledge to check out this one overhang that I could see a bit from where my pack was.  But nothing doing, so now on around this level into this next big ravine.  Maybe weíll see something there.
     A note on the Esplanade trail.  From here it was very faint if at all apparent.  I missed it, and ended up doing mostly just cutting across country there to get where I wanted to go.  So it may well be that the reason the trail is actually readable up to here is that these cairns do lead down the canyon and that this is sort of a main route into Royal Arches.

Itís 4:52.  I am back on the trail.  I followed that level I was on into the next bay and didnít really see anything there.  I also went up and contoured around a bit over into the next area too, but that really seems too far from where Harvey (thought he, where Harvey) saw the (ruins, or) the mescal pits and the overhang.  So Iím thinking maybe it was really further up the creek or at a little bit higher level than where I was on the creek bed.  So perhaps at another time.  I came up a ravine at a spot that looked kind of familiar.  I kept coming up it until I was able to see the trail and then catch that.  So now Iím headed back to camp.

Itís 6:14, and I am back at the camp.  The sun set on me about 6 oíclock.  The Kaibab cliffs at the very tip top here are still getting just a little bit of sun.  The moon is about a half moon.  And looks like it will be a little bit bright here for a while.  But itís nice to be back.  It was clear all day long.  Not a single cloud to be seen and still not a cloud to be seen.  It has been very still as well and actually very warm during the day in the sun.  So I donít know if that means itís going to be cold at night but at least if itís still, it should be pleasant that way.  Well now to relax, unwind, have some water, fix some dinner, and go to bed.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  

Sunday, October 1.  It is 7:36 and as soon as I put on my pack I will be leaving this very nice campsite.  I got up at about 5:30 so it has been two hours.  It was very still last night, very pleasant.  Not as cool, I donít think, as the night before.  I got up at twilight and fixed breakfast, got all packed up and so everything is going along pretty well.  Itís a little cool.  The sun still, of course, hasnít come up here.  But I am anticipating a very nice hike out.

It is 9:23, and Iím at the ďYĒ junction.  I had to make a stop for about 12 minutes along the way, but otherwise time has been pretty good.  I left my camp this morning with exactly two liters of water - just what I wanted to have.  So that worked out well.  I had to husband my water a bit, in terms of washing dishes and brushing teeth, but still I ended up drinking more than half a liter before I set out, to leave me with the two I have left.  Well, it has been a wispy, cloudy, kind of day.  Looks like it might be building up a bit, but very pleasant.  Iíve only been in the sun here for the last 20-30 minutes and that hasnít been bad either.

It is 9:57, and Iím at the top of the Coconino.
     I have seen footprints headed back up here.  Could have been that party that I heard . . . [End of Tape 7b.  Continued on Tape 8a.] . . .
Point Huitzil route/trip continued.  Well, as Iíve come up into the Toroweap and Kaibab levels and looked back on the Indian ruins, I see one ruin that I missed.  Thereís a doorway and a wall going each way.  And it is right between an upper and lower cliff.  And, it appears to be right above the shelf I was walking along to scout out the ruins when I first stopped, from there I had gone out and around the point to the other three.  So this one would have been just further up the cliff there.  It looks like youíd have to scramble up some ledges, but you might be able to get there alright.  So for a later trip.

Itís 10:28 and Iím back at the top.  I counted the switchbacks coming up.  Once you come up above the little cliff, up above the Coconino, thereís only one set of switchbacks and they occur rather quickly.  Otherwise the trail just angles up and up and up and up and up to the top.

It is 11:10, and I am all set to go.  The cloudiness has thickened up quite a bit.  So much so that it actually looks rather threatening.  There is a van here.  I think itís a sort of a VW type and I had heard a noise I thought coming from the rim on the way up, a hoot or something.  So, it may be that itís somebody here just for the day.  Although they havenít been around since Iíve been here.  Anyway, itís been a pleasant hike.  My shower went really well.  Itís cool but very still, so that helps a lot.  And so I feel pretty good.  Now on to the highway and off to visit Sue on the way home.

It is 11:37.  My mileage reads 26,179.1 and I am at the boundary road and I have decided that Iím going to take it.  At least right here it isnít rutted like the regular road is and even though I remember it being rocky further on I think this will probably be a better way to get back to the road.  Of course this way I'll end up on Rowe Well Road and end up driving through the Village rather than cutting across over to Moqui.
The Pasture Wash Ranger station is right behind me. 

It is 12:13 and I am at the spot I believe where the road goes off to Jicarilla Point, since there is a road here.  And I have come about five miles along here, so about half way.  I picked up the boundary fence here not too long ago.  And the road has improved noticeably since then.  So, my travel time here has picked up quite a bit.  Anyway onwards.

Itís 1:08, and Iím back on the Rowe Well Road.  Quite a trip there along the boundary road.  Many places where I had to get in the four wheel drive and use the low transmission speed to get up over places.  A couple places I even had to put it into four wheel drive.  And after I passed the Eremita Mesa turn off, which is now blocked off, I ended up having to drive through three rather large puddles.  So, I got some mud splattered on me.  Going from here should be pretty easy.
     Actually I wasnít on the Rowe Well Road.  I was on a very well traveled road that heads up here above it.  Itís now 1:09, the mileage 26,194.7 and Iím here.

Itís 1:32, and I have just have left Moqui after filling up with five gallons of gas. 

I got home about 3:30, and the mileage reads 26,291.3.

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