The wrong canyon

We thought that we had gone through all of the ice cold pools of water that the canyon had hidden between its narrow stone walls, but within the first mile of the morning we found another set of unavoidable chutes that led to chilly black water. We decided to keep our clothes dry so we stripped before we slid down the stone and submerged ourselves into the pool. I was able to walk on tiptoes to avoid swimming, but the chest high water was so cold that uncontrollable gasps took over my normal breathing. We pulled ourselves out of the water, quickly tossed on our packs and practically ran down the canyon to try and get our blood pumping. Around the corner we found a sliver of sunlight that arced down the side of the canyon to the floor below and we stopped to put our clothes back on. We moved on down the canyon ready for our upcoming intersection with a side canyon that would mark our intersection with an actual trail that we would follow for a short stretch.

Thunder canyon was the side canyon that would lead us along a river, past a cave, past a spring and up to a valley which would be our passage down to the Colorado River. When we arrived at a well beaten path at a side canyon marked with multiple cairns we hooked right and followed the path and the cairns up the canyon along the river. Eventually the cairns and path indicated that we needed to cross the river. This was not how it showed on our maps so we backtracked to ensure we hadn't missed a turn. When we found ourselves back at the start of the trail we figured we must have been on the right track and returned to the creek crossing and got our feet wet to reach the other side. The path continued, marked with cairns, up the canyon climbing and dropping up and down the steep rock cliff side. We stopped many times to double check our maps as the route didn't quite seem right, but each time we seemed to make our maps fit the well marked path we were on. When we reached a cave at the end of the canyon, followed by a spring, we were convinced we were on the right path. But the path seemed to end and the stone canyon walls towering above, impassable. We searched and searched but could not seem to find an exit to the valley we were looking for. We checked and rechecked our maps. We climbed to the highest point at the end of the canyon to get a better view. We split up to scour every unseen area in hopes of finding the trail, but it was nowhere to be found. Dejected we backtracked again and just before dark reached the initial intersection with the side canyon. We were confused, frustrated, annoyed, baffled and bummed. We stomped down a flat spot in the midst of a weed and bush covered area under a tree, the only flat area to be found in between a huge field of boulders, and crawled into bed.

We lay in silence for awhile, struggling with our individual emotions and thoughts about being stumped on how to continue. I finally pulled out our map again, determined to figure out why we could not find our way out of Thunder canyon. At first I concentrated solely on the details of Thunder canyon and then I expanded my vision to the entire map and back tracked our steps to the camp spot from the previous night, a disappointingly short distance from where we now lay. Then I retraced the contour lines on the map until  I reached the first side canyon. It was at that time I realized the first side canyon, the canyon we were currently camped in, the canyon we had been searching all day, was not Thunder Canyon. Surprisingly there were two side canyons, only a quarter mile from each other, both of which had a rushing creek fed from a spring just next to a cave. We were in the wrong canyon. UGHHHHHH!!!!!!!