Canaan Mountain & Little Colorado rim exploration


May 18, 2012
I’m only aware of three other fellow UK-based users of US backpacking/canyoneering websites, and I’d never met any of them, so when one asked me if I’d be interested in joining him in a US trip, I pulled out the stops to make it happen, particularly as his list of places to see coincided with some of my remote less visited places. (That's not to say I have any preference for a UK companion to a US one - it's just it's hard to get to know US ones to join me, living here, as they have their own buddies!)

Canaan Mountain and the White Wave was one of those places we both wanted to see.

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It was a fairly tough climb up Water Canyon with the overnight packs – but the river crossing was a beautiful spot.

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Once on top we’d read that navigation could be tricky and when I re-read the descriptions I had, all three were completely different, which didn’t help. Eventually we spotted the White Wave in the distance and worked our way to a roughly east-west canyon, where it dropped out of sight, headed west and then north up a side canyon. (One descripton talks about heading north pretty much immediately more or less following the west rim of Water Canyon, but the slickrock looked very steep – has anyone tried this?).

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My hike partner Des – a keen photographer who’d worked out where to be when for the best light – recommended spending a while around the White Wave with full sun making it really white. We needed a rest anyway.

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Des also wanted to get to the Windlass which looked 3-4 miles further, saying it was a late afternoon spot. It was touch and go whether we’d have time, and never quite knowing how close we were, we were on the point of turning round a few times to beat darkness, but we sort of stumbled upon it just as we were about to finally turn round.

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I probably wouldn’t have gone west to the Windlass had I been alone, and would have explored east of the White Wave as Kelsey says there’s some good hoodoos on something he calls Monument Dome.
But the hike to the Windlass passed some nice hoodoos, pretty slickrock pools,

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there was a gorgeous sunset on the cliffs and constant great views of the sun going down over Zion to the north.

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Returning to our tent, we had some time to capture sunset shots. The clouds weren’t spectacular, but they were good enough.

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What a place to wake up – looking out the tent seeing the pre-dawn twilight hit the white slickrock. A while later, it was the orange morning glow as the sun came over the horizon.

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We’d planned to be back to our car by lunchtime to head elsewhere, but were both enjoying running around taking photos too much to leave quickly. I also explored some nearby hoodoos before we gathered our packs and headed down.

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On the way down, we had a brief rest at Water Canyon.

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Unfortunately, by the time we got back we were too late and tired to head off up Cottonwood Canyon Road as planned, so I was left rather regretting not having done the extra mile each way to Monument Dome to the east of the White Domes. I had looked over with binoculars and couldn’t see anything too special, but on picking up Kelsey’s book on my return he said the best stuff was on the east side of the Monument Dome so I wouldn’t have seen it. If anyone has explored that area, I’d be interested to know what it’s like, or better still see photos as I may one day try again?

Our next “less-visited” site was the Little Colorado

Having been to the impressive overlook of the Little Colorado just east of the Grand Canyon south rim's east entrance, I was intrigued both to see it further downriver - particularly if it was running turquoise - and I also had hoped of going to Cape Solitude at the confluence.
In the end the 4WD tracks towards Cape Solitude sounded too slow, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and see the confluence from the north rim of the LC and other viewpoints along both rivers.
Sadly rain had turned the LC brown, and although we didn't get any glorious sunsets, spending 2 dawns and 2 dusks there plus oncoming storms gave us a variety of different lights to go with the great vistas.

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Perhaps the most remarkable thing was a million to one event! Hiking 3/4 mile from one viewpoint to another, with no trail and away from the rim to randomly cross washes, I dropped the small black attachment to screw my camera to my tripod. Looking back at the dense desert scrub, there was no point in going looking for a needle in a haystack as I also had no idea of the "path" I'd taken, and being just 2ft out would make it impossible to spot. Even standing on it would be unlikely to reveal it. So imagine my surprise when my driving companion hiking over 30 minutes after me - who had no reason to even scrutinise the ground - came over saying "having problems with your tripod?", and waving said piece the size of a potato chip. If only my lottery playing luck was that good.

From there we headed along the rims stopping off at viewpoints.

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Looking back towards the confluence

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Excellent lunch time reading. A couple of places that I have also wanted to see sometime.
Fellow UK user here! You got some great pics from a couple of beautiful places.

I had planned to explore Water Canyon & Canaan Mountain last October but some pretty powerful storms passed through the area when I was there. This was just a couple weeks after the flash flooding that killed more than a dozen people from Hildale, so I decided to pass it up. Next time!
Hi Dan, Whereabouts do you live?
It was the second week of last October I was up there and these were taken, but a week or two later we faced storms which are probably the ones you're referring to. I mentioned them and got a flooding pic in my recent trip report on the Hiking forum here.
ps I just noticed you may have been at the Banff Mountain Film Festival recently when I was there if you're in London!
Love Canaan Mountain, such awesome slickrock up on top there.
Great trip and pictures! That early morning orange glow (at the White Wave) must have been electric. So much to see in that SW Utah corner.
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Awesome, really enjoyed that! That's on my list to do one of these days.
Great shots! :)
I get confused sometimes with the nicknames, but I'm pretty sure it's JG here. Looks like you saw my other recent trip report with pics following your recommendations for YF. Thanks for that - it was great
I get confused sometimes with the nicknames, but I'm pretty sure it's JG here. Looks like you saw my other recent trip report with pics following your recommendations for YF. Thanks for that - it was great

Yep -- that's me. JG/Jamal/Jamie/Jammer/AcrossUtah/HeyYou. :)

Looks like you hard a good trip. :twothumbs:
What an great trip report. Glad you found your tripod mount. You guys are outstanding photographers.