08-Oct-2003 -- This was a tough one. We bounced over forest roads, 4x4, for an hour, parking at the end of the Pocket Lake Road at the boundary of the Sycamore Wilderness area. The confluence is inside the Wilderness area.
Although the hike was only 1.5 miles (as the crow flies) from the car, we encountered some very rough hiking conditions: scrub oak bushwhacking the whole way with lots of opuntia and agave, zig zag on deer trails when we could find them. Long pants/shirts with gloves were a must. The footing was treacherous due to basalt rolling stones under the brush. After a couple of hours fighting through the brush, we emerged onto a point overlooking the Wilderness Area (Photo 2, SW view) showing the remote, rugged beauty of this southern reach of the Colorado Plateau.
Continuing east, fighting brush up and down gullies and finally onto a ridge at the canyon rim, we cliffed out at only 180 m. (horizontal) from the confluence, exactly as a previous explorer reported. Scrambling down a cliff face got us to 150 m. at a 50 ft vertical cliff. We fixed a rope and I went down about 20 ft, but it was just too dangerous to proceed without better equipment, so this attempt was aborted in favor of lunch and strategic thought. We scrambled up to a knob on the rim for sandwiches, pondering likely defeat, and found a better way down the cliff! (N35°00.750’ W112°00.964’)
Fixing a rope got us down the first part safely, leaving a very difficult scramble down to a ledge below the cliff. This leg was a 100% slope (45 deg angle) of over 400 ft vertical drop, with very loose scree and many 6’ vertical ledges. There were lots of nasty agave spears to slip into, plus cactus, plus deadly exposure in many places. Moving slowly with great care brought us into a steep walled gully, at the base of a 100’ cliff, only 5 meters W of the confluence (5628 ft). Photos 3-5 show the GPS readings. Photo 1 shows the view looking south. Because we were very determined to exactly locate the confluence, we backtracked up the gully and bushwhacked up onto the cliff top, where we were 5 m. east of ground zero, which is located on the vertical cliff face!
Photo 6 shows the general area of the confluence from the head of the gully. The confluence lies right down the cliff below the tree in the center of the photo. Photo 7 shows the view looking South. Photo 8 looks east. Photo 9 looks North, showing the route up to the ridge (>6000 ft) where we began a slippery descent, and now awaits our climb out in the full heat of the afternoon (still hot in October). Finally, photo 10 shows the view West.
It was a long, hot, tricky, scratchy, stickery walk back to the car. Water! Apples! Elapsed time: 9 hrs hiking 3 miles! We had a great time.
This is very rugged country, and we were prepared for a difficult hike. We did extensive research and planning before attempting the hike: PowerBooks, MacGPSy, Terrabrowser, topozone.com, Garmin and Magellan GPS units. We ruled out an approach climbing up from Sycamore Creek as very long, huge climb, and big cliffs. We acknowledge the reports of previous attempts as helpful in this successful adventure.