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Day 5 - Abyss Cave camp to Elaine/Lancelot camp

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Thursday, September 21, 2000

06:00 Up at a reasonable time after another very restful night's sleep. I seem to sleep better when camped next to a creek than places where there is no sound. The first two nights, just above the Redwall gorge and then at the Tapeats gorge, were just too quiet and I think my mind tried to make up for it by creating internal noise of its own, which tended to keep me awake.
07:00 Packed up and out of camp. Follow drainage from camp towards northwest fault ravine. Encounter flowing water very shortly coming down over ledges in the Muav limestone. There was some brush but it was not nearly as bad as the previous day. There were also some climbs up falls, both wet and dry, but nothing too tricky.
07:30 Almost out of Muav - Redwall getting a lot closer. There are some very nice views of Elaine Castle. Flowing water is gone - comes from drainage to the east which I am now above. The quiet here is absolutely deafening. Rest until 07:45.
08:35 I made a wrong turn someplace in the climb around a dry fall. I went up too high, got stuck in the brush and could not find my way back down to the bed of the canyon. I tore a nice big hole in the front of my pants trying to get myself out of the brush. I'm batting 1000 with them - second trip, second tear. Nothing a little duct tape wouldn't fix - if I had remembered to pack the duct tape that is. I'm not sure these pants will ever be clean again anyway. My arms also have lots of scratches and scrapes and I must look like I just crawled out of hell. I finally found a way back down to the bed of the canyon but it was tough going. It was one of those moments where you plead for Divine Intervention.

I also took a pretty good fall while trying to climb a smaller fall. It was very dumb and I was not looking for the easiest way up. Luckily I landed on my rear end and I think the backpack actually took most of the force from the impact. Still, it was a little sore for a while. It was a very short fall but it is amazing how quickly images from your life can pass before your eyes when you don't know how you are going to land.

I am still in the Muav but very close to the Redwall boundary. I can actually make out individual trees at the top of the canyon now. Rest until 08:45.

09:30 Oh ! My ! God !!!

Did a couple of nasty climbs. One was up a narrow ravine that was not quite wide enough with rock on one side and brush on the other. I dropped my other water bottle about halfway up and of course it went all the way back to the bottom. I went back down to retrieve it after completing the climb and leaving the backpack at the top. The other climb was just tricky trying to get the proper footing.

There are some nice cool breezes blowing down from the north rim and they feel like heaven. I can see the Elaine Castle / Lancelot Point saddle very clearly now but I still have no idea how far away it is. I can see trees that look like Ponderosa. I am still hoping to be up there by noon. Too bad there will be no water to clean up with today. I may just have to sacrifice a little drinking water - at least enough to clean up my arms and face. I cannot believe all of the scratches on my arms.

09:50 Shooting for the top of the Redwall.
10:30 I am finally through the Redwall and entering the Supai layer. The saddle looks very close now but I am starting to get very tired. I mixed up some Gookinaid and I am hoping that will help get the electrolytes back in balance - assuming that's what the problem is. I've been drinking water only and not much of that. I did drink as much as I could hold before leaving camp though but that was now 3½ hours ago.

I don't think the trees on top are Ponderosa; the shape doesn't look right, as I get closer to them. That's good, that means that they are probably Pinon pines or Utah junipers and therefore smaller and closer. So close - brush is getting real bad in places though. Rest until 10:45.

11:45 Soooo close. I am nearing the top of the Supai and there are awesome views of Elaine Castle and the Hermit rim. I need to try and find the break in the cliffs that will get me up onto the saddle.
12:15 Go for saddle.
13:15 Can see huge pillar of rock separated from the rim, looks like break behind that may go to rim. Head back down into the bed of the drainage to the left of the ridge I am following. Follow bed towards pillar. There were a couple of tricky spots to get up to the very top of the saddle but it goes. Never had to take off the backpack though. No direct route. Finally on the saddle and guess what? It's covered with BRUSH! Seems to be a shortage of good campsites. I finally found a big open space that will work. No energy to setup camp though. Sit down under a Pinon pine and eat some lunch and rest first.

I can't believe that I had originally planned to go all the way from the Merlin Abyss / Mordred Abyss confluence to here in one day! I never would have made it. I am very glad that last year's trip got aborted because I would not have made it out when I planned and people would most likely have already started looking for me. I would have lost a day getting over to Merlin/Mordred and another day getting up here. And who knows what the remainder of this trip has in store. I am not home free yet.

Great view of Lancelot Point and I think I can pick out the route I need to use to get back to the rim. There is lots of brush along the way though and it is not going to be fun. My arms are going to get shredded to pieces. I am tired of the stinking brush.

15:00 Just hang out, rest and read. Gave up on the idea of climbing Elaine Castle. I am just too tired, have no energy and I am feeling a bit dehydrated. I figure that it's better to conserve energy and water for the climb and hike out tomorrow. I've still got a full two-liter bottle of water and maybe another half-liter or a little more. I still have one pack of Gookinaid left that I will use tomorrow as well. I will save the full bottle for tomorrow, which doesn't leave much for today. Time to start rationing water. Now I wish I hadn't lost that other water bottle. I need to get the side pockets on the backpack fixed. I am very afraid of loosing the other bottle at this point.

The wind up here on the saddle has really been incredible at times. It is very gusty and almost gale-like at times. The tent does seem to be holding its own though.

17:00 Dinnertime - last 4 hot dogs. Still taste fine. Lots of moisture in them actually and it feels good. They worked out rather well.

I really wish I had enough water to wash with but I can't risk any of it at this point. I did remember that I still had a few Wet Naps left and used a couple of these to try and get rid of at least some of the grime. My wife always packs these when I go on trips with her and I decided to bring some this time as well. Thank you, Robin. I managed to clean up my arms and face a little at least. I can't wait to get into a hot shower.


Water flowing over Bright Angel shale, northwest fault ravine

Water flowing over Bright Angel shale, northwest fault ravine

View back down northwest fault ravine

View up northwest fault ravine

Getting closer to Elaine Castle, upper northwest fault ravine

View back down northwest fault ravine

View down northwest fault ravine from Elaine/Lancelot saddle

View down northwest fault ravine from Elaine/Lancelot saddle

Lancelot Point from Elaine/Lancelot saddle

Sunset from Elaine/Lancelot saddle

Sunset from Elaine/Lancelot saddle

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