Saturday, November 15, 2014

Day 10–Hiking Deer Creek Falls to the ‘Patio’

This morning we had an opportunity to hike Deer Creek Falls. This hike was described as a ‘must see’ and pretty spectacular. We were given 3 options for hiking – we could just wander a short walk over to the Lower Falls and hang out there, or venture forth on a bit more adventuresome hike to ‘the Patio’. Lastly, the trail continued onwards (and upwards) to are area labeled the ‘Throne Room’ after the very large chair like boulders that were there. Fred and I and Sarah and Jason knew that we wanted to go at least as far as the second level, the ‘Patio”.
This is Lower Deer Creek Falls.
Beautiful! As all of these waterfalls were here in the canyon. We did not get closer to investigate the falls at this time…..the trail would begin just past this area.
We would wear our river shoes as we crossed the creek, but we would change into our hiking shoes on the other side. The gear raft stored 2 dry bags with all of our hiking shoes in them. When we needed our hiking shoes/boots, they were available for us during the day. This day, the guides carried the boot bags to the other side of the creek for us all to change.
This picture, taken by Becky shows the route that we would take going up.

We never really had the time to stop and take pictures on the way up. We did not want to fall behind the group and not be able to spot which way to go. So, we just fell quickly in line and started to hike.
This was a pretty good scramble up this rocky trail, before it turned and headed into the green area in the left of the picture. That green area marked a dense jungle of undergrowth that we pushed our way through as we followed the foot trail. On one steep section, we had to climb using hands and feet.
Once through the underbrush, we came to this level section with an overlook.
And, of course, photos were taken all around – me and Fred, daughter Sarah and son-in-law Jason – the Colorado River in the background.
From the overlook, we continued on a mostly level trail as the canyon began to narrow and we found ourselves walking along one edge. That’s me and Jason and Sarah (Fred taking the pic) - If I look a bit hot and red faced, it was because it was HOT. Remember, we are in a desert climate with daytime temps in the high 80’s.
This glimpse of the creek running clear over the rocks at the bottom of the slot canyon was tantalizing enough to keep me going……..
Just ahead of us on this stretch was the Patio, but first we had the “twenty feet of terror” as Matt described the narrow ledge that we would have to side shuffle along.
You will have to just trust me when I say that it was NARROW with a sheer drop off. We would side step this section facing the rock wall which, fortunately had a nice ledge at hand height to hold onto. Because the drop off was to my back and I was so focused forward, this really did not seem as scary as I thought that it would.
Jason did a good job recording this on his Go Pro. Watch as he and Sarah make their way across the 'ledge'.

The reward – the ‘Patio’ – an amazing oasis….cool and shaded with a number of cottonwood trees. It was magical….almost surreal…….We walked about…..
And tried to capture the beauty. Water rushing over rock…….rock smoothed, rounded and sculpted by the water. Tranquility….and dynamics…….  in harmony.
And, of course, we took our pictures. This is me with Matt.
This picture shows the general direction of the trail leading from the Patio to the Throne Room.
Matt always has a hard sell for going to the end of each hike – in this case heading further up the trail to the ‘Throne Room’.  He promised us that it would be awesome – and only about 15 minutes on level trail, then about another 10-15 minutes of steep up hill rock scramble. We decided, to follow the group on up……
The  trail wound its way through some desert vegetation and was pretty easy walking with a slight upward incline. All the way, however, we felt like we should have stayed back at the Patio’…..the ‘bird in the hand’ dilemma of not knowing if the next destination would be worth leaving such a beautiful place. What we did know was that we would not get to spend more time at the Patio on our way back……we would be hurried to get back to the rafts. After about 20 minutes of hiking, Fred and I decided to turn around and head back to spend our time at the Patio. The others would continue another 20-30 minutes of climbing some pretty steep trail to end at the Throne Room. Their pictures seemed pretty awesome….but not any more awesome (or even as awesome) as the Patio area.
When we got back to the Patio, we were delighted to find that we had the place pretty much to ourselves. We cooled off in the waterfalls (the force was to great to duck under!) and sat to soak up the peacefulness…….
And, of course, took pictures……
After having taken our time at the Patio, we decided that it was time to head back down to the rafts. It was nice to be just hiking down by ourselves, stopping to enjoy the views along the way.
When we got to the bottom, we wandered over to the big waterfall which we had bypassed in our eagerness to hike up.
OH WOW! This waterfall must have been 80 or so feet high! it thundered down into a pool of clear water (which in this picture looks rather small, but really was sizeable). We stood in the pool at the edge away from the falls…..the power of all that water sent spray to cover us and the wind that it generated could almost hold us upright as we leaned into it! Exhilarating! Awesome! Amazing! The words can not capture that feeling……We were already riding a high from our experience of the Patio….this was the perfect ending!   
I guess that I was so caught in the moment that I did not think to take any other pictures.  Becky spent more time enjoying the solitude of the waterfall and took a number of pictures which you can check out on her blog post for Day 10 .

Jason did film he and Sarah as they ventured close to the falls. The force of the water is awesome!

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