I was staying in Marble Canyon to do my two North Rim hikes and had planned on doing the Spencer/Dominguez Pass Loop the following morning. When I dropped Bob off at the North Rim, we talked about the possibility of doing the "Spencer" trail later that day. This was only going to happen if we both felt up to it and if time permitted. So Bob does his AZT thing, I do my Book thing and later we meet up. Both feeling good we decide to do the Spencer trail. Bob says let's do the whole loop. Mind you we don't even meet up until after 4PM and it is a rugged 8 to 10 mile (depending on route) hike. We hit the trail a little before 5 and head out. The Spencer Trail for those of you not familiar with it offers some of the best views in the state. It also wastes no time going up 1500 feet in 1.5 miles.
We got up to the top fairly quickly. I had to show Bob the other side of the plateau where you can see up the Glen Canyon. The views are always amazing. After a short look we continued on our way. There really isn't much of a trail up top so you need to have a good sense of direction. I brought a print out of a TOPO Map and Robs hike description from HAZ. Bob had his GPS although it didn't show the Dominguez Pass. We figured how hard could it be? We were making good time and great progress until it got really dark. Fortunately, Bob had a flash light and I had a headlamp. This helped a bunch but since there really isn't a trail we had go slow and make sure we were heading in the right direction. A few times we got up on a ridge and cliffed out and had to circle back around. The break noted above wasn't really a break but rather us studying the map and his GPS to try and stay on course. After a frustrating effort to figure it out and in complete darkness we just forged ahead.
The "Mule Ear" that Rob speaks of popped up once or twice in the form of a false "Mules Ear". You need to go approximately 3 miles from where the Spencer tops out to reach the Dominguez Pass. Once we reached it we worked our way down a ravine to a ledge and then made our way back in the direction of the car via some old mining roads and the power line service road.
I would say that our adventure put us fairly close to the route that Rob took. The full Spencer/Dominguez Loop actually goes down a sand bench and across the Paria River. It is 10 miles RT. This way doesn't cross the river and puts you back at the place you parked which was kind of nice.
This hike was super fun, definately challanging and a bit nuts in hind sight. I wouldn't recommend doing this one in the dark as it is a difficult route to follow in the day. Additionally, there are some safety issues in regards to loose rocks and exposure in a couple places. Otherwise it's a winner!