Day 4 – Umbrellas with Cacti

Over prepare, then go with the flow.
~Regina Brett, from 45 Lesson Life Taught Me

Colorado River Crystal Rapids to Colorado River 94 Mile Creek

I don’t do well in heat. I wish I did, but it is always a mental challenge. This day brought back many challenging memories of crossing the Great Divide Basin last summer on the Continental Divide Trail. The Grand Canyon is beautiful, but unforgiving and requires a traveler to be on alert at all times.

Our route today to the next water source went back up to the Tonto Level, traveled a few miles east, then down 94 Mile Creek to the Colorado River.

After leaving the river this morning, we scouted out a route back up to the Tonto level. We all were hauling 6 liters of water, so going straight up on slippery rock, dirt, and scree was super tricky. I got cranky a few times, feeling my pack pull me backward from the weight of the water.  I quickly figured out a better way to distribute my water bottles. One…hand one to Dan and second…load the water closer to my back. Huge difference.

It took longer to get up to the Tonto Level than anticipated and the sun was already strong. Luckily, we used our umbrellas as portable shade. Dan rigged up a hands free system that working beautifully on our packs. This way we could continue to use our poles to navigate through the cacti, cat claw, yucca, and various other sharp plants. To beat the heat we stopped periodically under cool rock overhangs. Arrow even discovered by holding your body close to the shaded rocks that it cooled the core temperature down quickly. Great tip.

Dan measured the temperature at 100 degrees and measured the temperature under the umbrella at 5 to 7 degrees cooler. We love our umbrellas.

After a long day of walking on the Tonto, we descended down to 94 Mile Creek, a dry creek bed. Spirits were high because we had read on an online trip report that it would be an easy walk down to the river. Well that was not to be.

Shortly after entering the canyon, we encountered impassable dry falls (rock drop offs where waterfalls once flowed). We spent the next few hours picking and climbing our way around the obstacles. Because it was late in the day and all this very unexpected, it was tough stuff to handle at the end of a long, hot day.

We are camped on the warm beach at the Colorado River. We were able to get cleaned up and eat dinner in the dark. The campsite I picked is exposed and close to the beach. Gusts of wind are beginning to blow loads of sand into our tent. Not good. Note to self: do not camp on an open sandy beach.

Tomorrow WILL be better!


Moon at Sunrise – Colorado River
Climbing up through the Layers
Dan Scouting a Route Up
Maneuvering Up
Up to the Tonto Level
Arrow, Rockin’, and Dan at the Tonto Level
Prickly Pear in Bloom
Walking with Umbrellas
Beating the Heat Under Cool Rocks
Dodging Cacti
Colorful Lizard
Beautiful Views
Entering 94 Mile Creek Bed (before the Dry Falls)



  1. Thanks for the cactus flower pictures!! It is a love of mine!

  2. Marilyn McAlester

    Honest, wonderful writing and beautiful pics. The umbrella was my best friend on the PCT hike through the Mohave Desert. I sure envy all your hiking opportunities! Best wishes on this season’s hikes.

  3. Great to see you all smiling. Attitudes are obviously 100 percent despite the challenges. Continuing my prayers for the safety and joy of your party!

  4. An incredible journey and amazing photography.

  5. Amazing photos. I love Red Rocks! and the lizard, and pear cactus. Those beautiful vistas just call to ya. -You and your crew are Rockin’!

  6. Great pics as usual Rockin’! I’m looking forward to my KM to Tehachapi hike coming up soon!

    • I still am bummed we will not be here to help out. Good news…we have had rain that has brought out the wildflowers and green hills. I’ll bet the springs are running more than a drip now. You should be in good shape. Tips: as Swami would say… start hiking at sunrise or before, get most of your miles done early in the day so you won’t have to carry as much water, take a long break during middle of day when it is hot, then hike till sunset and of course pack light. 🙂

      Hope your trip goes well and you meet great folks along the way.

      • Thanks, good to hear. Up here in Portland I love to get out to the Columbia Gorge in the Cascade Locks area early so I can start my hikes at civil twilight. I left my house at 4am to do that this last Saturday so it sounds like my “getting up early training” is going well with my hiking training! 😉


        PS Have a great hike yourself! What an adventure.

  7. I am soooo very glad you are home safely. I would have really worried if I had read this while you were still hiking. You are extremely courageous people. Your experiences will be talked about forever.

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