Well I had an open weekend and a friend from work wanted to do a hike in the Grand Canyon. He did some BP'ing in high school on the AT and is in pretty good shape and he said he could do anything I could do
I recruited Tommy into going as well.
So Saturday 4am we drive up to the canyon, getting the B.A. Lodge for a quick breakfast then off to get out BC permit. Cedar Spring and Salt Canyon were both taken so we opted to stay at Monument Creek, that was fine with me as it's a cool place and we could make it down to the Colorado hopefully as well. Plus we wouldn't need to lug any extra water for a dry camp.
The ranger at the BC office was of course giving us a hard time about the loop and asked if I had done it before and I said yes (twice), also scolding us on leave no trace and packing out our trash and whatnot. This was after she had pulled up my frequent hiker account (which you would think she could see the past permits I've picked up then). She was telling us we better hurry up and get going if we wanted to make it into Monument by dark and exclaimed that the Bus doesn't run out to Hermit in winter, which I knew and we had planned on taking a cab out there anyways. It didn't make any sense to me as it's only 8.5 miles to Monument Creek and we were waiting in line at the BC office before they even opened the doors at 8am. She said it a couple of times about us needing to hurry up and get down there. I made sure to leave of that we would be hiking out the Tonto to Bright Angel the next day.
So you guys need to quite using my name up there and giving me a bad rap
We hail a cab from Bright Angel lodge and we are on the trail by 9am. We made god time on the trail partly because we wanted to get down there and partly because it was damn cold up there. I had a reputation to uphold so I was in shorts of course hiking through the snow on the rim. We take a few breaks near Santa Maria Spring and Lookout/Breezy Point, as well as the tonto crossing. We made it down to the Tonto crossing in 3 hours and made it to camp at Monument in 4 hours. We sure were happy to get down there before dark-1pm (crazy ranger).
We setup camp and I finally got to use MikeN'FHAZ's tarp that I bought like 6 months ago. It was pretty easy to set-up, I had it upside down but no rain in the forecast didn't bother to fix it. I need to work on my widths for the stakes a bit as I had it too wide making it a little shorter than I would have liked. I didn't bother to fix it though.
We still had plenty of daylight left so we decided to hike down to the Colorado River. Chris was pretty tired and was set on the idea of taking a nap at camp, but I wasn't going to let him get off that easy. I told him about some awesome granite wall and waterfalls 10 minutes down the creek so he was convinced. Plenty of water in the granite narrows there and it made for some fun ways to stay dry while climbing down. After the hour of creek bed walking we make it to Granite Rapids along the Colorado. It was a nice dy out and it was nice to finally be in the sun. Winter hiking in the canyon you don't get to be in direct sunlight a whole lot so it's nice when you find a spot to warm up. After a half hour or so we head back up creek to camp. Along the way a pack of 4 bighorn sheep head down the steep canyon walls and across the creek 20 yards in front of us. The climbed 30 feet up the steep cliffs on the other side and we have a starring contest for a few minutes. I take some pictures with my P&S but was wishing I had my other camera.
Heading back up through the granite narrows Tommy and Chris manage to soak there feet in the water and curse the person who wanted to climb back up the narrows as opposed to the trail the climbs around them. Can't imagine who that was
Back at camp we settle in and finally get to unwind a bit. We all make our meals and was sorry I tried out some backpacker pantry chili mac that was on sale. It was a soupy mess, way too much extra water left over and then some crunchy pasta mixed in with it all too. Next time I'll spend the extra $2 for the mountain house. It was a supposed to be about 30 degrees during the night and I was definitely testing my sleeping 50 degree Montbell sleeping bag plus thermalite reactor liner. I also brought a Bivy
to use as a groundsheet as well as put myself in for some extra warmth. Sure enough I stayed warm during the night although the bivy was a bit small with the air mattress in the so my feet didn't have enough room for me to stretch and be comfortable. A;so the bottom half of the bivy held in the moisture was led to the foot of my sleeping bag getting a bit cold, justing wiggling my toes and moving my feet a bit solved an chill problem I had down there. I was actually getting a little too warm above the waste and would even sweat a little. Regardless I got a good glimpse of what I can stretch my sleeping bag to. Aside from winter in the canyon I feel my regular set-up will work great in most 40 degree + environments.
We wake up 7:30 and eat our breakfast and pack up camp in the cold. Frost on some stuff, but nothing with water was frozen so I don't think it got below freezing, if it didn't it wasn't' for very long. On the trail at 8:30 with a long days hike over to Indian Garden and then a climb out the Bright Angel trail. Shortly after passing Cedar Spring we came across a group of 3 people from France, we passed them a few times as they did us as well. We also saw what was probably the same group of Mule dear that Mat saw a few weeks ago, 6 of them up a drainage a bit after Salt Creek. A couple miles later a family of 5 from England passed us going the other direction. As we got to Horn Creek was passed another group of 3. Never expected seeing 14 people in a 1 mile stretch down there. We made it into Indian Gardens at 12:30, 4 hours after leaving Monument Creek.
After a nice 30 hour break at Indian Gardens we're back on the trail for the final climb out. A few breaks at the 3mile and 1 1/2 mile rest houses and were out on top 2 hours and 20 minutes later. The trail was snow covered the last mile or two out, but was no problem with just trekking poles. Chris made it out about 30 minutes after the did. So 1 day 7 hours and about 28 miles of trail later we were on our way home back to Phoenix.
We all had a great time, I got to try out a new pack, the Golite Jam 2
as well as use Mike's Tarps
The pack worked great for my 20 something pound load, although with minimal back padding care must be taken were placing items in the pack. I had my cook set up near my shoulder and although I never noticed it while hiking I sure felt where it was afterwards. The tarp would well too in the fair weather that we had. So more practice pitching it and I think it will work well on trips in which I want to keep my pack weight low.
Thanks to Chris and Tommy for being excellent trail companions, always a fun one.
I'll have the pictures up this afternoon.
Mileage is from the Hermits rest to Granite rapids and back to Monument camp.