Wow. Sweet trip! I hurt a little bit!
The first 3 miles up FS Nankoweap Trail 57 to the NPS boundary is a killer grind. With a full pack, carrying water, etc. it'll get to you!
The rest of the hike is long but not terrible. The previously reported "scary spot" has been improved and is not particularly scary. Not to say that just anybody should be out here. Plenty of people would not be comfortable on any of this trail. It is exposed, angled, and there's lots of scree. It is definitely not for the inexperienced canyon hiker.
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of shade. Don't get me wrong. It is a south and west facing hike almost the entire way. But I was happy that there are some occasional junipers and little overhangs or drainages that provide a brief respite from the blazing sun. But there are not many.
The traverse seems to go on forever, and when the trail finally drops off Tilted Mesa, the footing becomes spectacularly loose. I was happy to have trekking poles to help with stability (a heavy pack on your back certainly doesn't help), but still managed to fall twice.
Once at the creek, we found a suitable camp site in some cottonwoods just across the creek and slightly downstream of where the trail enters. There is a good flat area for camping several hundred yards upstream as well, but there is very little shade there. A bit over a mile upstream there is another good camping area, this one shaded and flat, but unless your route is taking you upstream, I wouldn't consider going that far to camp.
The hike downstream to the river was pleasant and relatively easy. Once near the river, stick to the use paths and head south to the beaches and the Granaries trail. Following the creek into the delta to the river will get you tangled in a mess of tamarisk and other scrub brush.
On the hike out, we left at sunrise, and in the 2+ hours it took to reach Tilted Mesa we were pleasantly surprised that about half the hike was shaded. This will be less true later into the fall as the sun rises farther south than in late September. Once on the traverse, the only shade was found in the occasional drainage, overhang, or small treel.
Don't underestimate the last 3-miles once you reach the saddle. It lasts forever, and the 400-foot climb about a mile from the car is the last thing you want to deal with after 5-6 hours of hiking already!
Great group of people. Good to meet Karl for the first time. I think BobP was there, but he likes to hike when normal people are asleep, so I'm not really sure. I think he did about 40 miles the rest of us skipped. It was a very safe trip, with some taking safety more seriously than others, for which I was supremely thankful. Not sure why rafters carry PBR on the river, and I might have complained, but that's not like me, so I just shut up and enjoyed a Modela instead. Also had a pretty G'Knight. Or 4. Slept great!
First night was warm for sleeping, but a cold front pushed through with crazy winds late Saturday night and Sunday. Got sand blasted on the beach by the river a little bit. Went for a swim in 47-degree cold Colorado river. Very refreshing.
Sunday night was much cooler and very pleasant for sleeping. The Mountain House dinners were good I suppose. I was disappointed nobody brought bacon, but somehow survived anyway.
Of course this all ended at NiMarcos where everybody (not just 9L) consumed more calories than we could have possibly burned hiking out earlier in the day. Pizza and wings make for a pretty good post-hike snack.
Fun trip. Thanks for getting the permit Larry!