Back to the Canyon after an 8 or 9 month hiatus. Its been too long!
Starting at about 11am, my wife and I headed down a crowded Bright Angel Trail to Two Mile Corner (not signed, its at the end (when heading down) of the last long switchback before the trail starts working its way over to the east side of BA Canyon). We picked up a faint but cairned trail, contouring along the Supai layer, climbing upwards a few times, passing under a spring in one of the over-hangs, and eventually made it to the Battleship Saddle(?). We found out on the way back that we went too high as there is a better trail that stays low and is much easier to follow (but does have some light exposure in a few spots). From the saddle we somehow missed the better trail again(which also stays low) and followed some more cairns up towards the south-east end of BS. Along the way we found a 2-way radio, a hiking pole and 2 Nalgene bottles in one spot. The radio was switched on but the battery pack was dead so we figured it was probably left there more than a day ago. I threw the radio in my pack and we picked up the pole on the way out. I left the bottles there just in case.
Once we got up to Battleship's base we started looking for a way to the top but nothing looked like any of the pictures I've seen of the correct route. We spent a ton of time climbing up to cracks and onto ledges but nothing seemed to work. Almost ready to give up, we made our way over to what seamed like too far north but was actually right in the center of the east side. It was there we spotted a huge cairn pile atop the protruding rock! Sweet! All easy climbing and easy to follow trail from here! Now this hike has gone from frustrating to fun! One part is like a long enclosed stairway way with an 8 foot or so climb at the top. Another part has just a little bit of exposure. A few more short climbs and we were there!
Great views from the top (of course!), especially looking down onto Indian Garden. There is also an isolated "island" on the north end of Battleship with a huge mushroom shaped top. Amazingly someone was able to climb this island and place a cairn on top! I got scared just standing on the edge to get a closer look at it. It looks almost impossible to climb and would be unbelievably scary!
Once back at Two Mile Corner I felt like I could put a few more miles in but my wife was spent. We decided to split up here. She headed back up the BA and I continued down to Indian Garden. Just after IG I picked up the Tonto heading east. This was my first time on this section of Tonto and it was very easy to follow. This is probably the most traveled section of Tonto. The views down into Pipe Creek looked interesting but I didn't have much day light left for exploring. I reached the resthouse near "The Tip-off" on South Kaibab and started my ascent. The SK is in awesome condition right now! Its like a nice smooth ramp all the way up. And not many mule droppings! Near the top I passed a guy who was finishing up his first leg of a r2r2r hike. He'd be hiking back to the North Rim all night, in the dark, and in much colder temps. No thanks, I was ready to be done!
I topped out on SK at about 8pm. I wasn't sure if another shuttle bus would be coming after sunset so started walking back along the Yaki Point road, hoping a bus would pass that I could flag down. A few minutes later and a bus is heading towards me. I waved my hand, the driver slowed down and then announced over the PA: "We don't pick people up on the side of the road". Umm, do you mean the road that's closed to public traffic? The road that only buses use every 30 or 60 minutes? Thanks pal.
After walking along 64 for a while I eventually got a cell signal and had my wife pick me up.