We left a couple of liters of water at the bottom of the cliff. Max had recommended leaving water at the bottom of the climb so we didn’t have to carry it the entire way and back. It sounded like a good idea to us.
The next six miles was a matter of hiking up the correct canyon making frequent stream crossings.
The canyon gave us lots of views of interesting sandstone formations.
We had to go around a few small waterfalls.
There were almost constant signs of cows and horses, but we didn’t actually see any on our hike to Keet Seel. The only footprints were from the earlier day hikers.
After about 9 miles, we reached Keet Seel. It took us about 4.5 hours.
The ranger was out giving a tour to the day hikers that left before us. So we sat down on the benches & snacked. Our first view of Keet Seel made it look a bit like a miniature structure.
Steve, the ranger, finished up the tour for the other two people and greeted us. He looked a little hungry and he wasn’t likely to get a chance for lunch later, so Jon suggested that he take a break for lunch.
So we hung out with Steve in his cabin. Steve is an NPS volunteer. His father & grandfather had both worked on the archeological study of the site. It is hard to imagine someone more qualified to take us on a tour.
After lunch, we climbed the very tall ladder up to Keet Seel. It was certainly worth the hike. Steve was great. We learned a lot about both the native culture at the time, the geology of this particular area and,of course, an understanding of Keet Seel and the valley. The canyon we walked up used to be a relatively flat fertile valley where they farmed. At some point, the valley started to erode away into the canyon making the site no longer a viable for a community.
At one point, the people built a retaining wall which increased growth of the community.
When we finished our tour, there were 6 overnight hikers waiting for their turn. We headed back. The walk back was uneventful except for seeing 3 wild horses.
I was very glad that I brought a little more water than recommended (1 gallon per person). We had been very fortunate with the weather. It had rained the day before, but not on the day of our hike. There was a 50% chance of rain and it was cloudy most of the day. That was great, because the stretch down the canyon is very exposed. The clouds kept down the heat and the direct sun.
We stopped to rest at the bottom of the big climb up. We snacked a little & retrieved our water. I was really surprised how easy it was climbing out. I think that our time at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (altitude: 8500 ft) really helped. On the two miles of walking up the road to get back, we caught up with the women that were before us at Keet Seel. When looking at my Garmin, it turned out that we did the return trip faster that our trip down (4 hr 15 min).
We walked back to our campsite and had a very relaxing, low key evening.