WoW, what an adventure!
Hmm, so Saturday morning we woke up early at the campground, called a taxi, dropped off the car at Grandview TH, and had him shuttle us over to the Tanner TH. After paying him $50+tip & politely trying to get him to shutup, we headed down the steep upper Tanner that thankfully was only lightly covered in snow, we made fairly quick work of the trail down (so glad I'm not hiking back up the Tanner this trip
), observing the many different types of flowers at the different elevations, and arrived at Tanner beach in 4 hours to grad some shade & lunch, before heading west on the Escalante Route. Talking to other hikers about the lack of water options and observing the muddy Colorado River, I was convinced we'd be drinking our share of silty water but we lucked out that day by finding a rafting party along the river who shared some shade & clean water with us as we sought refuge from the 85* heat down along the river.
Rested and loaded up with water, we pushed up the ridge another few miles before running out of energy after 16 miles for the day up on the ridge just north of Escalante Creek that afforded us some amazing river views and made for excellent star gazing that night.
Okay, today we'll be drinking silty water for sure...
After waking up around 5am to avoid the afternoon heat, we dropped down into Escalante Creek where the trail passes thru a slickrock section and we lucked again with some water lightly flowing in this section before going underground and of course loaded up on water.
The trail continues down to the river and from there continues to contour along the river up on a small ledge until we hit 75-mile creek where the trail goes in a bit and drops down into that super sweet deep slot canyon and again back to the river. Again we're contouring a ridge along the river to Papago Creek where we're faced with some light scrambling and hiking down a scree chute back down to the river, followed by some sandy bushwhacking along the river to Red Canyon where the New Hance trail drops in. Those last few miles of the Escalante Route pass thru some DD sections on the map that we didn't find to be that difficult though less experienced parties could find them to be quite a handful.
Most groups would hike out the New Hance trail and call it a weekend, but I don't like that trail too much or the water options so I opted to spent our second night at Hance Creek below Horseshoe Mesa. From Red Canyon, it's about another 6 miles and a couple ridges of hiking along the Tonto until we dropped into that beautiful oasis. First thing I did was strip down to my briefs and give myself a much needed bath and since it was afternoon by then and about 85*, I just laid in the creek another half hour to cool off before pumping some much needed water and taking a nap in the shade.
A commercially guided group sharing the area (that we chatted with a bit on the hike in) was hiking downstream about the same time I woke up from my nap, so I joined them and we explored downstream about a mile thru that sweet creek past many cottonwoods, explored a ruin, and discussed the geology of the area.
When I got back, the frogs were overtaking our creekside spot so we relocated to a much quieter spot away from the creek where we relaxed the rest of the evening and crashed around 8pm again.
Monday morning, we woke up around 5am for another early start. I'd so far completed every section of the central & eastern Tonto except for the few miles in front of the Horseshoe Mesa, so I convinced by companion to hike those few extra miles around the mesa and check out the sweet Cottonwood Wash again before making the steep climb up to Horseshoe Mesa on the westside. From there, we just had the last few miles & 2500ft up the Grandview Trail back up to the south rim. That trail is in pretty good shape like usual and some light cloud cover helped keep us cool, but that last mile was easily the most brutal of the whole trip!
Now I just need to hammer out a Gems & Royal Arch Route...
Since it was a warm weekend, we just slept on a tarp at night and I didn't even bring a jacket...
To save on weight we didn't bring a stove just ate some tasty MREs for dinner
My 2 luxury items were some sandals for the evenings and playing in Hance Creek
and a spray bottle to mist my face during the warm days