Bill and I headed up from Phoenix at 6A, go to the Hermits Rest Trail head at about 11:30 for our big descent down the trail and over the Tonto Trail to Monument Creek by sundown. The maps we had showed 9.6 miles, but the GPS had us closer to 11mi. It sure felt like 11 especially with all of the water we were carrying. I remember thinking how gnarly the trail was coming down. I only hit the deck once but luckily I didn't spill my water or hurt anything.
The camp at Monument Creek was pretty nice. It had some shade and there was running water near by. Then sun went down and the mice came out. They were like my kids after being couped up all day in the house. They were everywhere...playing, running, climbing, squealing...just having a ball. My worry was our packs. Our food was secured in my bear canister. There isn't any place to hang your stuff except from a sturdy branch. the mice can get up there too. Thank fully, they quieted down at around 10 or 11 and we got some decent sleep. When we woke up in the AM, there were mice turds everywhere, but at least we didn't have any new holes in our tents or packs.
We slept in until about 7 or so then headed down the canyon to the Colorado care of Granite Rapids. I was hoping for two things. 1...a boat to pass through the rapids while we were there, 2...a beer from said boat. Neither happened. Bill and I chilled out down there for an hour or so. Our next spot was about 5 or so miles down the trail at Salt Creek.
We passed 3 ladies who stayed at Horn Creek and said the mice were so bad, they ate thru their tent and one of their packs. Ugh... Bill and I then decided to hike past Salt Creek and stay at the plateau before entering the canyon to Horn Creek (2.5mi from Bright Angel).
Our tired legs kept going an additional couple of miles past Salt Creek and found a ridiculous spot to spend the night. We tried to minimize the disturbance to the ground and delayed setting up our tents until close to sunset. We were camping illegally, but it was totally worth it. We had 360 views of the sky and the canyon. Plus our site looked due east for a most impressive sunrise.
After kicking it around taking pictures in the morning, we headed over to Indian Gardens for our hike out. We got to IG at around 10, refilled water, ate, and headed up the trail at around 10:30. We "summit-ed" right around 1:30 or 2. Not too shabby for lugging up the hefty packs.
You see all sorts of people coming down Bright angel on a Sunday afternoon. Some look like they belong, others...no so much.
Next time, I want to focus more on getting a site at either Granite or Hermit rapids and just do a loop from rapid to rapid coming back up Hermits Trail. Much fewer people and much more water.