I was getting frustrated. I'd been wandering around the Grand View Point rim section of the Island in the Sky for the better part of 50 minutes, trying to find the abandoned and so called"Government Trail" that provided the only non-roped descent access through the vertical walls to the White Rim Rd 2000' below. Not to mention within 2 minutes of leaving the parking lot I'd ripped my semi-new green Mojo shorts on a lone tree that looked relatively benign. I was going on some vague directions via map and pictures given by various online sources, the main one being Buzz Burrell's Quad Trek post. They had good pictures from below, but that wasn't helping me up on the rim. I'd thought it be relatively easy to find, seeing as its the only possible option for miles. Finally I decided I needed to go farther out on the rim and sure enough, found it within a few minutes. For others reference, from the Grand View point overlook, follow the 1 mile rim trail for about 5-7 minutes(walking). Bust out to the rim and start walking till you see a cleft in the rim that heads back towards the parking lot(east). This is the entrance.
The goal for today was to descend the Government Trail to the White Rim Rd, run the road to White Crack Campground, take the abandoned White Crack Jeep trail(lots of abandonment on this run) to an old miners camp near Stove Canyon, then cross country it to the confluence overlook of the Green and Colorado Rivers. Easy.
The sneaky route from the Island in the Sky is somewhat similar to the Lady Peak Trail in Zion, a once well used and fantastic route that due to liability has been taken off the NPS propaganda. Probably for good reason. The route is marked with cairns once you get down a little ways. Mostly 3rd with some 4th class terrain winds it way down through the shelves. Pretty amazing little find by whoever did it first. There are a few sections that are sandy and gritty, which make them a little more captivating. No rope work though.
|Entrance. You can see the parking lot upper left corner|
|Route through the cliff band|
|Government sponsored foot hold|
|From Grand View Point Lookout|
After only 10 minutes I was down through the cliffs and it looked like a straight shot through a few miles of talus and desert washes to the road. Unfortunately, two smaller cliff bands inhibit the path. The first is easily avoided by heading descenders right. The second is a little more difficult. I was lucky and found a nice little 5.5 downclimb that saved me a bunch of time, as it appeared otherwise a long circumventing to the west would be required.
|5.5 climb I found through lower vertical cliff band|
|Rain allowed for lots of head dunks and free refills|
|The white crack entrance|
|The view from the White Crack Trail. This is why trails are important|
|They were probably comfy at one point. Miners camp overlooking Green River|
From here it was a 2 mile GPS-utilized cross country obstacle course through cactus and slick rock to the confluence overlook. Various cairns were found intermittently along the journey but I always seem to lose them and had to trust my own instincts(not very effective). Eventually after 3.5 hours from leaving the rim I arrived at my destination. It was beautiful, but somewhat anticlimatic as both rivers are pretty ugly, a poo brown. Not exactly majestic. However, the fact that I was 16 miles from the nearest paved road in a very inaccessible part of the park made for a very calm and peaceful, but serious experience. A broken leg out here wouldn't be a good idea.
Reversing the route was much easier as all the route finding had already been done. I shaved off a few miles and at some time despite being tired and having the steep climb back up to the rim. All in all it was a great day in what I often consider my favorite national park. 32 miles with 5600' of vert.
|Monument Basin with standing rock visible|