May 08, 2018

Nick on the third rap in Big Canyon
Getting over the edge I started to smell the fresh scent of aquatic life, the mineralized water and the sounds of falling water sparkling into the sunlight. I look further back and I can see an opening with a series of green drops that point into the direction of the milky blue little Colorado river. The canyon was filled with life and color in a place that it so baron and potentially fatal to most forms of life.

Salt Trail exit for big canyon
Spring water flows year round from the lower portion of big canyon and feeds into the little Colorado river. Big canyon is a large tributary that feeds into the little Colorado river and sheds water for over 200 miles within the Northeast region of Arizona. 

Entering Big Canyon
We brought a 200ft rope and another 80ft rope which worked out fantastic for this canyon. We also had some extra webbing for anchors but we did not have to rebuild anything.

The group about to encounter rap one in Big Canyon.

We drove from Vegas the night before and got to the Salt Canyon Trail head at around 1 AM.  A few hours later when the sun started to cast a blue and purple tint into the sky, we got up and headed over to the Big Canyon trail head.

r traversing around a dry fall in Big Canyon.

The roads from the highway that lead to the Salt Canyon trail head and Big Canyon were great for a 2 wheel high clearance vehicle. 

 carrying the rope in the entrance to big canyon.

Once we got to the Big Canyon trail head we set off to the drainage that would take us down into Big canyon.  We had to cross a few drainage in order to get to the right drainage but once we were there, the hike down was straightforward.

 hiking down into Big Canyon.

It is a bit steep and you are hiking down a breakdown boulder pile but after an hour or so you should reach the bottom and you will find yourself in Big Canyon.

 hiking down the beginning section of Big Canyon.
The Canyon it quite long and passes by multiple layers before reaching the redwall Limestone and the area where the canyon starts to get interesting.

Nick prepares for the first rap in Big Canyon
Before we hit the red wall, we had to hike over 4 miles of dry wash with sections of boulder hopping that had a few negotiations to traverse around before gaining the technical portion.

first rap in Big Canyon
We made a few stops in the limited amount of shade as the canyon is pretty exposed to the sun.  The temp was in the 80s but the sun slowly dries up energy levels so replenishing often and before you feel tired is really important for people to remember.

Bottom of the first drop.  There is a water fall to the left with a constant flow of water coming out of a crack in the wall.
The hike to the redwall was not all that bad.  Its a bit long and slightly tedious but there is much worse and now the pay off to enter the redwall in upon us and 3 hours from leaving the car, the canyon is getting interesting.

 a bottom belay in Big Canyon
I noticed that there were small alcoves where spring water use to exit from the wall and there were signs of karst features including some formations within the small cracks and alcoves.

Heather and Marci at the bottom of the first drop in Big canyon
We slowly make our way around some down climbs and I belayed the group on another drop which was not difficult.

Andy coming down the first rap in Big Canyon

We meandered around a few bends within the red wall and we came up to the first drop in the canyon which is around 50 feet and goes into a pool of water.

Andy Preparing to rap the second drop in Big Canyon
Getting over the edge on this rap is a bit of a nuisance as there is a V slot and a nearly free hang to the bottom just under the boulder.

Nick on rap 2 in big canyon
The rap itself is a nice drop into a pool of semi warm water that is up to waist deep. This might change with the seasons but when we were there the deepest part of the canyon is waist deep and no wetsuits were needed.

Nick rapping down the falls in Big Canyon
There is also a waterfall coming out of the fissure crack in the wall that did not have a entrance large enough to gain access into the resurgence.  It is a crack in the wall with a small hole.

Nick Rapping off the third rap  in Big Canyon.
There were some formations on the walls to the side but other than that, I did not see any caves in the area.

 Rapping off the third rap in Big Canyon.
Once we all got down we encountered the next rap which is around 90 to 100 ft down a slopping waterfall that meandered around the limestone with green algae.  This was quite beautiful as we could see the platforms below us and the upcoming raps.

 Rapping off the third rap in Big Canyon.
The water trickled down with a light sounding white noise and had a very serene ambience to the rap.

 coming down the third rap in Big Canyon.
There was some water to wade but soon after that small swim, the canyon opened up to the next drop with a rap of around 50ft down a green sloping Flowstone dam covered with algae of different colors!

Big Canyon.
This was really beautiful and this canyon just kept on getting better.  The views were wonderful, the fresh scent from the algae and the warm water trickling down made this canyon one of the most unique that I have seen in the grand canyon. 

 at the bottom of Big Canyon.
Under the Flowstone was a small cavern with stalagtites and a a mud beach where we could sit inside and under the flowstone. Water trickled over the entrance which made this place a water park of a canyon.
 packing ropes under the ideal water conditions and just outside of a small cave in Big Canyon.
Awesome place!!

 at the top of the multi tiered big canyon.
Once we all got down we down climbed around a  few more green falls and got to the fourth drop which was around 60-80ft down another slopping green algae covered waterfall.

 coming down the fourth rap in Big Canyon.
At the bottom of this drop as a large table top platform with the final rap down canyon right.  This rap went around Emerald Pools and was around 80ft in length.

Heather on the large platform in big canyon.
Once Heather and I got to the bottom, we headed for the blue waters of the Little Colorado River before the sun went away.
 coming down the fourth rap as heather belays from below in Big Canyon.
Along the way we encountered a ninja obstacle course with chutes, climbs, water holes, thick vegetation, snake avoidance strategies, and the last bit was the quick sand. 

last table and we can see the LCR
It was quite nice to traverse through the down climbs and the water passages as the river got closer and the noise of the milky blue water pouring over the large travertine dams was almost downing out any other sound.
 coming down the fourth rap in Big Canyon
At the last down climb there was a cracked and seemingly dryish mud flat that had a few foot prints embedded into the mud.

Big Canyon
The foot prints did not seem too deep so I step into a few of them and sink about knee deep into the mud.
 going over the last rap in big canyon
Ok there is a little quick sand but once I stepped just over the river, it got deeper and went almost thigh high.  I immediately spread out on the mud and crawled over the mud flat to dissipate my weight and made sure Heather did the same thing.

 at Emerald Canyon at the bottom of Big Canyon
Once we got through this mess we slogged through a few tall grass sections and soon after the electrifying color of the blue little Colorado was within reach. 

The Blue waters of the Little Colorado River
The water was surprisingly warm and pretty nice to sit in and wash off all of the mud we just collected.  We got out of the canyon in good time now we are rewarded with the beautiful water of the little Colorado river. This was a real treat and it was such a beautiful place!

Little Colorado River
We found a great camp site on a beach next to the salt trail which is where our exit was and we got a 5 am start to beat the heat.  Four hours later we got back to the top of the trail head. 

The view from our camp site was not all that bad.

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