|Backpack||45.00 Miles||4 Days || |
|10,100 ft AEG|| || || |
South Rim to Clear Creek
Friday 4/23/10 - Left Phoenix at 0430. Stopped for breakfast in Flagstaff and arrived at Bright Angel TH at 0830. Checked in at the Bright Angel Desk to make sure we were confirmed for the Phantom Ranch Steak Dinner on Sunday 04/25 and for breakfast on Monday 04/26. We were too late for the Hiker Express Shuttle so we took the Blue Line to the Visitor Center and the Green Line to the South Kaibab TH. The Canyon had experienced several days of rain. It was very overcast with a 20% chance of rain diminishing to a 10% chance of rain overnight. Started SK at 0930. Strolled leisurely and arrived Phantom Ranch at 1230. Rested and ate lunch then started up the Clear Creek Trail at 1300. I had significant anxiety about SK because of my knee, but my knee held up well. I had significant anxiety about the climb out of PR on CC. The start of CC is very pleasant. You gain about 1,500' in about 1.5 miles but it is a well-constructed trail with nice grade. The overlook of Phantom Ranch from the Bench is well worth the climb. We met NPS Volunteer Bill Forman from Moab who checked our permit. We continued across CC. This trail can be brutal in hot weather, it is long and exposed with a lot of rolling ascent/descent. We hiked in a light drizzle/easy rain. The final descent on the CC trail to the campground is brutal. You descend about 550' in the last 0.7 miles. We thought that 200m felt much like Nankoweap trail and 200m felt like Tapeats trail. These sections could be scary for someone not familiar with tough trails in the Canyon.
We arrived at CC campground at 1715. The wind blows fierce through the camp. We had seen photos of rock wall bunkers in the campground and now we understood why these had been built up. The first camp was occupied so we proceeded a little further to the second camp. It was excellent. Eric set up his Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo for the first time and did well setting it up in these conditions. I carried my MSR Hubba because of the rain. We had read Jamie Campos' trip report of his 4/19-4/20 trip so we were prepared for Clear Creek running high and silty. I brought my Sea to Summit 10L bucket which we used to scoop water from the creek. We let the silt settle and then draped a piece of polypro across the bucket and filtered water. It was cold, especially with the wind. I wore my raingear to block the wind and for a little (but not quite enough) warmth. Turned in at 2000. I stayed up a little to study the map for Cheyava.
Clear Creek to Cheyava Falls.
We woke at 0600. Spoke to some hikers from Park City in the first camp. They had been to Cheyava the day before and had several high water crossings. Took them 3.5 hours to the Falls and 3.5 hours back. They had not found the ruins. Started on the trail at 0700. We were joined by Doug and Craig who were camped at CC. Craig had been to the Falls several years before. The rain had stopped and the creek was down a little from its high. The first three crossings out of camp were the worst - mid-calf high and fast. Eric and I were wearing Keen shoes and hydrosocks so we did fine. Craig and Doug had on regular boots and socks - this would come back to really haunt Doug with horrible blisters. We found trails and cairns in various places but had to bushwhack our way numerous times. If you are not comfortable with offtrail bushwhacking and creek crossings, this trail is not for you. The first view of the Falls was from about 1 mile south. At one point we were up high from the creek and faced choices of bushwhacking through thick shindaggers, bushwhacking through thick manzanita, or bushwhacking back down a small cliff to the creek. We chose bushwhacking through the manzanita. We got to the Falls. Craig said that on his prior trip he had bushwhacked to the north side of the Falls and it really wasn't any better than the view from south of the Falls. We took his advice. I had seen a Gary Ladd photo of Cheyava Falls and shown it to Eric. We decided it was from up the hill across from the Falls. We were carrying 30' of 1" webbing and 30' of 5mm static rope. We split from Doug and Craig and worked our way across the creek and climbed up the hill - a nice little Class 4; we didn't need to set protection. We waited a while in the shade of a juniper as the sun angle changed. I took a couple of photos. We decided we could get down off of the ledge without protection. We started downcreek making good time - partly by just staying in the creek since we had the proper footwear. We caught up with Doug and Craig. We saw several nice campsites in the Cheyava Use Area. Craig showed us where he thought the ruins might be. Eric scouted up the hill and confirmed. We found what must have been the Granary; it has manos and metates outside of it. Eric continued to scout the face of the cliff and we found significant ruins all along the cliff. Eric's most interesting find was a piece of shaped wood with grooves in it about 8" apart. We thought it might have been the anchor for a ladder to get up to the main room. We saw what we think had been an agave pit below the ruins. We decided we had seen enough. Eric did some scree surfing, followed by Doug and Craig. Discretion being the better part of valor, I butt surfed my way down. We returned to camp.
Clear Creek to Phantom Ranch.
We woke at 0600. We hit the trail at 0800 for a nice leisurely stroll back to PR. We chatted with two different groups of hikers on CC. The sky was clear and it was starting to get hot. PR hit 85? this afternoon. Set up camp and went up to the Canteen for a Lemmy. Craig showed us what he does to have his gear hauled out by mule. I'm conflicted by this. If I haul it in, I feel that I should haul it out. And I don't want to support the mules. But I suppose if it is the only way for someone to continue enjoying the Canyon, or for someone with medical conditions, I guess it's ok for them. Enjoyed the steak dinner at 1700. Back to camp and met NPS Ranger Brian Bloom. Bil Vandergraf wasn't working that day. Then back to the Amphitheater for NPS Ranger Pam Cox's presentation on Major John Wesley Powell. She gave a great presentation and really illustrated the hardships and problems encountered by the expedition. She is an NPS Naturalist involved with the California Condor project. Interesting insights on Condor #26. I learned a few things about the water system I had never known. I showed her the photo of the wooden support from the ruins and she thought it probably was a ladder support. These Native Americans did have ropes made from agave and/or yucca and could have used a ladder.
Phantom Ranch to the Rim
We woke at 0530 and started breaking camp. We went to the late breakfast at 0630. We came back to camp, packed and started up the Bright Angel Trail at 0800. We arrived at IG at 1000 and the thermometer already showed 82?. IG was crowded with a group of 6th Graders from a school in Flag, a troop of Boy Scouts from Nashua NH and the mule riders. Continued leisurely to the Rim and arrived at 1300. Bright Angel Lodge is undergoing renovations so the Rest Rooms are closed and they had construction trailer rest rooms southwest of the Lodge. The Rim was really crowded with tourists. We ate lunch and headed home. We were delayed by a bad accident south of Tusayan between a big Motor Home and a Pickup truck. Arrived home at 1900.
||Wildflowers Observation Moderate