This was the second day hike WENDY picked for our ABC anniversary camp/hike weekend. I touched base with Hank regarding some of the logistics for this and knowing Wendy was a lot better than me at reading a GPS, we left ABC camp around 9ish I think.
I hadn't driven the Rim Road here for quite a bit. It is narrower than I remember and the drainage ditches also seem deeper. However, the road is quite smooth and fortunately not much traffic once you get past Knoll Lake. The driving directions for getting to Grasshopper Campsite 2 were pretty straight forward and the roads in (after 300) were in decent shape. Once we got to the campsite, I remembered it from my last time up here with Jack and Hank (gosh, that was clear back in 2011 ).
Now to figure out which way to go. We knew we would be heading in a clockwise direction per Hank's suggestion. It looks like a bit of a clearing to the north but you actually head south toward the canyon (across the fence) and pick up a game trail (at least that's what we did). We kept heading along the edge of the canyon and slightly contoured staying with the game trail until we finally reached a cairn. It's quite slippery contouring the canyon due to the pine needles mostly. And then it's almost straight down from there where you will eventually see the cairn marking your entry at the canyon floor. (It's like a double-layer climb down).
Once at the bottom you are instantly rewarded with beautiful canyon walls and lots of ferns
. So UP the canyon floor we go, many times following the elk track. They did a great job finding us the best way to walk in this canyon. And much to our delight, we encountered more water than we anticipated along with natural rock bridges for us to cross. We also saw turkeys, butterflies and one elk and a pretty intact elk carcass. Oh, and per Hank's trip report from last year:
I noticed a significant amount of deer and elk activity via well worn use routes, droppings.
The trees growing out of the rock of the canyon walls was interesting too; especially this one that the trunk appeared to be one with the rock wall. There were a couple meadow-like areas with clumpy grass along the way too and we did pass a spring with all sorts of greenery going up the side of the canyon. Wendy also made note of the campsites Hank had put on the GPS route and there are some nice ones that are somewhat elevated above the water areas.
We came to the end of the canyon and walked over to the sign on the Barbershop #91 trail. I was surprised to see that we weren't too far from other trails I have read about. We went back a bit to have some lunch under the shade of some trees with a view down Barbershop. And then next, it was up a hill out of the canyon. THIS was much easier than what we had come down to get in the canyon; but after all, it was a trail
This is a pretty little section of the trail. You eventually come to a gate and we continued walking anticipating a turn to the right. We felt we walked too far so we went back to the gate and headed up the fence line but not too long before we saw that the GPS said this wasn't right. Se we hiked back out to the meadow where the main trail was looking for a cairn or some indication of where to turn but we never did find it so we headed north up the meadow-like area. Wendy asked if we wanted to continue this way or head up the hill to get closer to the GPS track. I opted for the hill
and eventually we got back on the track.
Soon you come to the road we had driven on and then you take a left. You follow the road for about a quarter mile where I spotted a cairn to our right. My one measly contribution to this track finding as Wendy did the most and deserves KUDOS; and I did one of these toward the end as she nailed it
. From here we more or less hiked thru the welcome spotty shade of the forest. We came to another small meadow and someone was at the campsite (9735) not too far from Whistling Spring. We walked along side the road for a bit and we came out to the first bigger and fenced meadow area (Upper Merritt Draw), Wendy had us stay to the left (west) to walk in the shade.
We did see a couple chipmunks along the way here. They are always so comical when they scamper off. We also saw a Tanager. We finally came to the last enclosure and crossed over to the east side to walk along side it. I was in familiar territory now and knew we were getting close to the end. We were both a bit weary by this time. We stopped for a five minute break before heading up the hill along the fence line and arrived safely back to Grasshopper Campsite 2.
After freshening up the best we could (FYI - not wearing sock liners because I was wearing tennis shoes instead of boots results in very dirty feet for me
) we took the 139 to the 95 to the 87.... it seemed a long trip though I do remember taking that here in 2011. We stopped at El Rancho in Payson. I did try the Navajo Taco and it was just the right size and tasted delish (remember to get the green sauce with it).
This is a great hike but you will need your GPS. There are some landmarks for some of the waypoints along the way such as the sign for Trail 91 (and there's a visible trail) and just past the gate after going up the hill from the Canyon, etc.
Video 1 heading toward and down into and on the Canyon floor: http://youtu.be/BiF7QpYI-kQ
Video 2 in the canyon ending at Barbershop Trl #91: http://youtu.be/M6wgSUBM6Ck
Video 3 from Barbershop 91 to and thru part of Merritt Draw: http://youtu.be/k2uNMscs1iY