GORGE OF THE LITTLE COLORADO
http://www.didgeridoings.com/eyemagic/Nature/LittleColo/Lit.html (PeterSpoecker)

This tributary canyon to the Grand Canyon is one of the most remote and least visited but most spectacular canyons in America. It was only explored in its entirety by white people for the first time in the nineteen sixties and due to several kinds of difficulties it has not often been hiked since then. I found the rewards well worth the trials.

The only safe, easy, and easy to find way into the upper end of the canyon is where Arizona Highway 89 crosses it in Cameron. At that point it's just a big deep wash, easy to get into and hike in. The problem is that soon the walls steepen and there are stretches of impassible quicksand. This picture is about 2 days into the canyon. How did I get there and what gave me the idea to attempt it?
In June of '94 I was enjoying a backpacking trip in Paria Canyon and during a meal break in the company of a chance met fellow canyon enthusiast I asked him if he knew of any canyon as good as the one (Paria) that we were in. He said yes, there was a virtually unknown canyon that was even better. I had my doubts, but was nevertheless eager to find out about this other canyon. He told me about a major expedition that he and several others took through the Gorge of the Little Colorado some years before. He told me all about the quicksand and the danger of flash floods and the many stretches where you have to float your pack and swim and the general danger of being so remote from any possible help in case of problems. He strongly urged me not to even think of attempting this canyon alone. He fired my imagination and I became instantly obsessed. I went straight home to prepare and then went straight to Cameron to make local inquiries. This picture is about 3 days into the canyon.
This is a typical section of water eroded and pockmarked canyon wall about 3 days in, and similar to what you find in many sandstone canyons.
When I got to Cameron I started inquiring of local Indians and everybody else about what they knew of conditions in the canyon. That summer was one of the driest in decades and I figured that maybe there was no quicksand that year, but that meant that there was the danger of no water anywhere either. It's about a 40 mile hike to get to Blue Springs, which is the beginning of a large year around river. I needed to carry food, tent, sleeping bag, cameras, inner tube (to float my pack) for a planned 2 week long trip, so carrying more than a couple of quarts of water was out of the question. I was not able to get any useful information whatsoever from anyone. Nobody had ever been any appreciable distance into that canyon or knew of anyone I could talk to. Everyone felt sure that there would be no quicksand, however, since there was so little sign of moisture in the canyon anywhere. I finally decided just to go for it. The kind folks at the Cameron gift shop let me park my car under some trees on their premises and I put on my 65 lb. pack (including only one quart of water) and made my way into the canyon. Sanity isn't everything. I felt no sense of impending danger, just an exhilaration about a rare opportunity of wilderness exploration. In just a couple of hours I was through the quicksand area, which as expected was completely dry and no problem at all to get through. Scarcity of water to drink did turn out to be the most serious problem, but in fact even with only a quart bottle I never did run out at any time. Water quality was another matter. The water in those few little pools here and there was so silty and so full of algae (and I hate to think what all else) that filtering it was impossible, so I put a double dose of iodine in every quart and "enjoyed" very dirty drinking water with a very strange iodine and algae, etc. taste.
Here's a typical view of the first couple of days into the canyon.
This was about the third evening. I'm enjoying twilight time playing my didgeridoo, which in this case is also a very strong and lightweight walking stick. Spending days in a row in total solitude in a place of such magnificent and awesome natural beauty is impossible to describe.
It's not trick photography or a grossly improperly processed photo. This is a very severe sandstorm. The fourth day in started a 3 day period of unbelievable winds, such as I never would have thought possible at the bottom of a canyon. Dust funnels sometimes rose to hundreds of feet above the walls that are about a thousand feet high. The extremely fine sand (that would be quicksand when wet) got into EVERYTHING; cameras, food, ears, eyes, nose. Did this compromise the joy and thrill of the adventure? NO WAY!! It wasn't particularly dangerous, just, well, interesting.
Sometimes for a few miles there would be no water at all and then a tiny little crescent shaped pool of opaque green water in the shade of a rock like this. It was marginal, but I got through the canyon with no ill effects or great discomfort.
Occasionally farther into the canyon there were larger pools. These provided occasions for rejoicing and total immersion for relief from air temperatures over 100 degrees.
Water eroded boulders provided constant visual interest. Canyon hiking is always (intentionally) very slow for me because I'm constantly looking for little visual treasures and backtracking and waiting here and there for just the right lighting conditions for photographs.

From famine to feast; after about a week of very leisurely hiking with almost no water I reached Blue Springs and from then on for the rest of the way to the confluence with the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon I had to hike with an airtube attached to my pack because there were so many places that I had to swim through. That was fun!! The water was just right to stay in indefinitely and the air was 100 degrees or more.

The last 20 miles or so to the confluence there's lots of deep water like this and lots of carp and catfish up to 2 or 3 feet long. It was fun to lay in the shade and watch them, sometimes from very close up.

This is a very strange and special place. The little crater like outcropping on the left is where some warm gas and mineral laden water bubbles up to the surface. You can look into that hole and see a deep pool of water that looks like it's boiling, but actually the water is only luke warm, but it's releasing dissolved gasses from it's underground journey. The two pictures on the right are at the base of this structure. The warmth and mineral content of the water has resulted in some very strange algal growths and mineral encrustings on the rocks. This ancient place has since time immemorial been regarded by the Hopi Indians as their Sipapu, the birth place of the People. All this land is Indian reservation land and a permit is required for entry and the Hopis ask that visitors respect their ancestral lands and ceremonial sites.

Alas, at this point the best part of the trip was nearly over. This is just a few miles above the confluence of the Gorge of the Little Colorado and the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The water in the year around wet part of the gorge is all turquoise colored like this because of dissolved minerals. It tastes strange too, but I got quite used to it. Once in the Grand Canyon it was several days more hiking out to the rim.