Flashback Friday: Redwall Cavern and Nankoweap

Flashback Friday: Ted Hatch On Exploring Redwall Cavern and Nankoweap


Some of Ted’s adventures got precarious!


Our favorite day of the week! Flashback Friday’s growing popularity has inspired us to continue the fantastic stories about past Grand Canyon adventures. Ted Hatch regales us with his Colorado River adventures exploring Redwall Cavern and Nankoweap, including a cave that he didn’t know if he’d come back from. Ted and Elizabeth Sowards talk about the river and discuss exploring the Canyon in a time before it was regulated and protected.

As always take these words with the understanding that adventuring fifty years ago was much different than today. Guests explored and were able to go to places that today are preserved. Learn from their tales and imagine exploring a world that very few people had touched. We now take only pictures and leave only footprints.


Ted: This is a shot looking out of Red Wall Cavern. Do you remember it?

Sowards: Uh-huh, the big one.

Ted: The great, big cavern. You go in and people say, “Why don’t you camp in there it’s so nice, but the slightest little breeze comes up and you get sand all over. It’s nice to stop and have lunch, but don’t camp.

Sowards: The boys said the Park Service didn’t like us to camp there for some reason.

Ted: This is the Nankoweap Indian Ruins looking down. You probably remember that high Indian ruin that you saw on the cliff. I like to camp near that. It’s quite a climb up into the ruins.

Sowards: Some of the kids went up there. A couple boys went up there.

Ted: It’s a steep climb. You can climb right along this ledge, and right over here…you can’t get to it anymore, but there used to be a little tiny trail chipped out of the sandstone, so you could get into that next cave. I got over there and it broke out from under my feet. I just barely got there. I thought, “Oh, I’ll never get back.”

I was in the cave, and I looked in the back and there was water in there, and the Indians obviously had used it, because there were pottery chips everywhere. But anyway, after we explored it, we came back along that wall and I sat there for probably half-an-hour before I even decided that I could….you know….that I would give it a try. Because it was so soft that it crumbled right under our feet. Bruce Limb and I were in there….you couldn’t get a rope 400 feet long….and finally we just decided that I would hold on to his hand for balance and then work my way along the ledge, hugging it as close as I could, and then step across the place that was broken. We both got out by doing that, but I was really scared.

Sowards: Uh-huh.

Ted: But that’s a neat little cave, it’s too bad you can’t see it anymore. I thought I would tell you about that experience.


Thanks for tuning in to this week’s lookback. Look for more in upcoming blogs about rafting Colorado River and preparing for your next Grand Canyon whitewater adventure. See you next week!

Book your 2024 or 2025 river trip today to get a peek at this still rugged wilderness and play your own part in Hatch history! Don’t forget to get your 90th Year T-shirt or sticker!