I tried a bit of birding on the Widforss Trail before leaving Grand Canyon this morning. Although there were some birds around, nothing unexpected showed up. Then I headed back to Page, taking the long way through Fredonia.
I made a detour at Fredonia to visit Pipe Springs National Monument. This monument contains a pioneer homesite/Mormon fortified house. It also contains the springs, which have been used by Anasazi, Paiutes, Mormons, and others. I walked the short interpretive trail that goes up on the ridge and back.
My next planned stop was the Paria Movie Set in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. One problem. The movie set was burned (arson) in 2006! The guidebooks I've been using predate this. I went to the site anyway and considered heading down to the Paria River. However, that might take too much time from the next stop, so I didn't.
Just before the Cockscomb (a long monocline ridge), I turned off on the road to the Wirepass Trailhead. If you continue another 15-20 miles past the trailhead, you get to the Condor Viewing Area I stopped at a few days ago.
The Wirepass Trailhead serves both Buckskin Gulch and Coyote Buttes (the Wave). I didn't have the required pass for the Wave, so I paid the fee and headed toward Buckskin Gulch. The trail starts down Coyote Wash. Sometime after the trail fork, the wash turns into a narrow slot canyon. The canyon leads to Buckskin Gulch, the longest slot canyon in the southwest and possibly the world.
Both slot canyons are well worth the walk. The Coyote Wash canyon was the one with the drop-offs. The first was the challenging one. As I arrived at it, a women was coming back up the canyon. She asked for a hand, and I helped pull her over the top. Since I was taller (and maybe lighter!), I wasn't too worried about coming back up it. The other drop-offs in Wirepass canyon were easy to handle.
In about 40 minutes I arrived at Buckskin Gulch itself. I spent about 25 minutes traveling downcanyon (with photos stops), then returned. The canyon itself continues all the way to the Paria (which then flows into the Colorado at Lee's Ferry). At one point, there's a log about 40-45 feet above the floor of the canyon! It was put there in a flash flood, and shows why you don't want to be in this canyon if there's any rain anywhere in the drainage.
One of the canyons was so narrow at one point that I almost had to take my pack off to get through. It was a very interesting hike. It took about 2 hours, and I figure I traveled a bit between 4 1/2 and 5 miles.
Then I headed off to Page where I had dinner at Bonker's, a surprisingly good and not too expensive restaurant. I ended the day by washing clothes.
So far, I have found 145 bird species and 14 mammal species during the trip.
Grand Canyon Lodge, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ