We eventually reached a dry riverbed (or a wash, as they are called around here) and continued our hike upriver, observing striated red sandstone cliffs growing in height around us the further we went. And suddenly, BAM!, we entered what is known as a "slot canyon", a very narrow, beautiful, winding undulating corridor of high stone walls carved out by the river over eons. See the photos below(which again, don't capture the majesty of the place) to picture it better - my description doubtless won't be adequate. The stone is reddish and changes color with the sunlight, making for a magical and mystical feel. It's fun and moving to walk inside them. Click HERE for a video of the inside of the canyon.
The corridors are not only awesome but also surprisingly long... I believe there were three of them in total, each one longer than the last. The final one was the most intense - it became colder and darker and wetter the deeper you went, til we could actually see our breath in front of us. And then things got kinda creepy - above us we could see large tree trunks which had been lodged in place by previous flash floods, a common and dangerous occurrence in such places. Water from surrounding and sometimes distant areas can collect very quickly to flood the narrow passageways with great force, ramming detritus in its wake and humidly sweeping away anything hanging out in the canyon. We suddenly turned a corner and saw that the passageway ended abruptly - and 20 feet above us we saw where the water would be cascading down onto us had it been flowing. It had been days since it last rained in the area, but the combination of factors (being deep inside the cold cavernous passageway after seeing the tree trunks with no way out but the way we came) creeped us right out!
We backtracked and exited the canyon, and had lunch on one the walls of the riverbed. After that, we hiked back to the car - by that point the day had become much hotter and we had about 1.5 liters of water left. We decided to take a shortcut through the wilderness using a map and compass, which was cool because we ended up seeing many more animal tracks (coyote, deer, jackrabbit, lizard). Halfway there we ran out of water, but we definitely saved time by cutting through the desert rather than the ATV "road".
By the time we got back to the car we were fairly spent. We chugged some water then headed into Kanab. We ended up at a terrace/patio restaurant called Sego, which was part of the Canyon Something Something hotel. Excellent place - I had a delicious beet salad and Carr had some extremely tasty sliders along with our drinks, some gin thing I presume was made with local juniper berries and a refreshing chartreuse concoction. A great end to a great day.
Right now we are back at our camp and the sun has just set. The horizon is bright orange, pink and purple, it is kind of unreal! It's getting colder, though not as cold as the past two nights - in any case we're about to start a fire. Off in the distance we can hear a droning sound which we both assume are frogs - somewhat surprising giving the climate and terrain. In any case it's a cool sound, fun and soothing. Tomorrow we move eastward, toward Glen Canyon and Lake Powell near the town of Page, Arizona.