After an unexpected stay in Williams on Wednesday night and a new fuel pump installed in the van on Thursday, I came up with a plan to salvage what I could of my permit.
I had to cut out my intended first night at Granite Rapids, but it was still a great trip. The views from this part of the Tonto Trail were quite amazing. Also enjoyed spotting a Grand Canyon rattlesnake and a California condor.
The inauspicious start to this trip (car troubles, Friday the 13th) had me a little nervous. It was also my first solo backpack in a few years, so that was in the back of my mind. The Hermit Trail really exposes my most annoying weakness when hiking alone - I have a hard time setting a decent pace going downhill. Not that Hermit is a trail you exactly want to hurry down, with all the amazing views, but I was eager for my first real taste of the Tonto. Regardless of a continuous inter dialogue urging speed, I was further slowed by scouting for fossils
. At least that payed off when I spotted a
Down the rockfall-littered Cathedral Stairs, I finally hit the Tonto and turned east - into the unknown for me. Regardless what I had read, this portion of the Tonto was a well-beaten foot path across the sparsely-vegetated platform and easy to follow. Views started to open up and in the silences between helicopter overflights, I could also hear the rapids on the Colorado. Pretty quickly, the trail started to curve around Cope Butte and head toward Monument Creek. Once the trail dropped down to the creek, I found solid cliff-shade, and settled in for the hottest part of the day. Explored, took pictures, played in the water, spotted a Grand Canyon rattlesnake. The snake wasn't very concerned with me - Grand Canyon rattlesnakes sure have a different temperament than Mojaves, which is what I see a lot of.
Once temps had cooled a bit, I set out for Cedar Spring, camp for the night. Cedar Spring was a good place to camp, except for a few mosquitoes at dusk. There is only one spot there, so you have the place to yourself with very nice views of sunset over the canyon. Thankfully, I had filled up on water at Monument Creek so didn't have to try to filter from the shallow pool below the spring.
On the first morning, I saw one man hiking out around Santa Maria Spring (he must have gotten a majorly early start) and 6 ladies just past the top of the Cathedral Stairs who asked me tons of questions about other GC hikes. That was it until I hit the junction with the trail to Plateau Point, which was mobbed as usual.