The loop I did is referred to as a 'Clear Creek Loop' in Todd's new Grand Canyoneering book but I figure logging under the trail is good enough since Clear Creek canyon is non-technical and I doubt this loop will ever get popular.
My group started down the icy Bright Angel trail to spend our first night at Phantom Ranch. I opted to go without Yaktrax since I underestimated how icy it was and left them in the vehicle but thankfully I managed not to slip without them.
This was my first time hiking the Canyon during winter and also my first time overnighting in the main corridor and a quick observation was the increased amount of deer & sheep sightings. The temps down by the river was nice but it still got pretty chilly at night.
It was nice to be able to go up to Phantom Ranch and play games & buy snacks with the other camps.
I was sans tent to make room for packrafting gear and thankfully my bag kept me plenty warm.
The next morning, the others had lost interest in a sidetrip to Clear Creek so I started my way up the scenic trail. This was my first time on the northside of the Tonto Plateau and the morning views certainly didn't disappoint.
Eventually I crossed Zoraster canyon with cool views of Zoraster Temple and the trail seemed to stretch on forever as it trekked over & down in Clear Creek Canyon. Some great campsites down there but I kept on working my way down canyon with loads of creek crossing & rock hopping while soaking in that scenic canyon. The canyon zig & zags all over the place with one 10ft falls to climb around before it eventually reaches the Colorado River. Todd recommends launching right into the river, but the river must be up and the mouth of Clear Creek didn't not have a friendly entrance into the river.
Thankfully I found a rafters' trail to a nice sandy beach to ready my packraft and make a pleasant launch into the river.
I was quickly coming up on Zoraster rapid and made my way to the left side to bypass that beast before jumping back in but soon afterwards I was bypassing the next rapid. That lower rapid proved to not be much when the river is high, so in hindsight I could have run it. The river from there to the black bridge was very smooth and made for an easy float.
Once back at Bridge Angel campground, I quickly changed out of my wet clothes, ate a warm dinner, and got to drying my pants under the bathroom hand dryer.
That night, we again went to Phantom Ranch to play & sip warm drinks. Afterwards we went to the Ranger Station at 10pm for the 3rd annual Scorpion Drop to celebrate New Years (with the New Yorkers).
The next morning, we broke camp early and some hiked up the Bright Angel while other up the South Kaibab trail. I had yet to backpack out of the main corridor and stuck with the better graded trail with a midway water stations while some of the others wanted more sun & less ice and greatly enjoyed the South Kaibab trail. Grabbing warm drinks & snacks at the warm Lodge was def very relaxing after playing in the cold Canyon & River.