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Clear Creek Trail - GCNP, AZ

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Guide 63 Triplogs  3 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northwest > North Rim
4.5 of 5 by 32
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 8.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,640 feet
Elevation Gain 1,682 feet
Avg Time One Way 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 14.01
Interest Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes
Dogs not allowed
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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38  2018-08-09 roaminghiker
51  2018-03-30
Phantom Canyon - Lower
22  2018-02-22 writelots
18  2018-02-17
Brahma Temple
11  2018-02-01
Nankoweap Trail
25  2017-12-15 bretinthewild
33  2017-05-04
Phantom Canyon - Lower
10  2017-04-01
Cheyava Falls
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6
Author doug h
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 0
Photos 0
Trips 1 map ( 0 miles )
Age 62 Male Gender
Location Avondale, AZ
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, Sep, Oct → Early
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:15am - 6:27pm
Official Route
7 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Inner Mystical
by doug h

Likely In-Season!
The Clear Creek Trail was built in 1934 and 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corp (Company 818). It was originally built as a mule trail so visitors at Phantom Ranch would be able to gain access to a scenic side canyon. At the same time, Clear Creek was stocked with trout so that visitors could do a bit of fishing. All mule activity to Clear Creek died with World War II, a period when the park experienced extremely limited visitation. Today, this is the only trail traversing the Tonto Platform on the north side of the Colorado River. Because the slope is south- facing, the hike from Bright Angel Campground to Clear Creek is warmer than most trails in the fall and spring, and is nearly impassible during the summer months.

Clear Creek experiences highest visitation in March and April by hikers interested in seeing Cheyava Falls. The falls were first discovered in 1903 when a prospector saw what he thought might be a sheet of ice coating the cliffs up the northeast arm of Clear Creek drainage. The Kolb brothers, famous photographers who lived at Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim, caught wind of this and decided to investigate. They found what is, at around 800 feet, the highest waterfall at Grand Canyon. But the water only flows in relation to snowfall, after a wet winter; in drier years it does not flow at all (Cheyava is a Paiute word meaning "intermittent waters").

This trail offers something for the backpacker and the day hiker staying at the Phantom Ranch. Day Hikers will find that the first 2 miles have great vistas. While the backpacker will find that this trail leads to more to be explored. For backpackers there is no camping for the first 2 miles of the trail, this is the first major draw or the second pour off but then it is camping at large, this is also good turn around for day hikers.

This hike starts at the Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, with an elevation of approximately 2600 ft. The Clear Creek trailhead is about a 1/2 mile up the North Kiabab Trail in a small drainage. The sign for the trail is about 25 ft. off the main trail. The trail takes off to the right and starts to climb fast. About 3/4 of a mile from the trail junction is an over look of the Phantom Ranch and a bench to take a rest, as you've only done half of the climb to the plateau. This bench was put in the thirties by the CCC, as was the trail. The next part of the trail has great views of the river gorge and bridges below.

The trail contours along the Tonto Plateau to Zoroaster Canyon with the views that are awesome. The trail goes north in to Zoroaster Canyon climbing to 4100 ft., the highest point of the trail. The trail then works through a couple of saddles to overlook Clear Creek. The trail then drops down sharply over a hill that looks like reddish brown cinders to the Clear Creek Campground.

At the campground there is a dehydrating toilet and Clear Creek, the only reliable water on the trail. The elevation at the campground is about 3600 ft.

For the Backpackers a good day hike from the campground is Cheyava Falls, the highest falls in the canyon To get there go up the creek about a mile to the fist creek from the East, the falls are about 3 miles up this creek on the right side. On the way up there is some Anistazi ruins near the confluence of the creeks and near the falls. Keeping into consideration that after a dry winter the falls will not be running. Getting into this area expect to get your feet wet and to fight the brush but it is well worth it.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2002-02-22 doug h
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    100 Classic Hikes - 2007
  • Grand Canyon Use Area Boundaries - Dynamic Map

Grand Canyon NPS Details
Hike: From the junction with the North Kaibab Trail, the Clear Creek Trail climbs through a series of switchbacks to the southeast towards Phantom Overlook (a sharp switchback with a landing where there are a few stone benches; from this point there is a good view looking straight down at Phantom Ranch). After passing Phantom Overlook, the trail continues up to the base of the Tapeats and then traverses to the east for another mile to the Tonto Platform. While walking along the base of the Tapeats hikers are exposed to the Great Unconformity, a gap in the geologic record spanning more than 1 billion years. After a final ascent to the top of the Tapeats, the trail contours along the Tonto Platform, crossing Sumner Wash and two minor drainages. The trail turns to the north when it intersects with Clear Creek drainage below Demaray Point: When Clear Creek Canyon appears on the right, hikers are still only half way to their destination. From here, the trail crosses shallow Zoroaster Canyon and then continues over an unnamed drainage to the north. Finally, at the end of the Tonto traverse, the trail drops into a drainage by traversing a long slope of brilliantly orange-colored Hakatai Shale. The trail ends at a dry tributary creek bed: Looking up this drainage one can see Brahma Temple. From here there is no trail, so it is necessary to hike down the drainage for approximately 150 meters to its confluence with Clear Creek. Most backpackers camp at the many impacted sites just downstream from the confluence.

A faint route continues downstream to the confluence with the east fork of Clear Creek. Hiking to the Colorado River via the creek requires scrambling and numerous creek crossings. It is approximately six miles one way. A quarter mile from the river there is a pour off that requires a fifteen foot down climb. This climb can be wet and icy, so use extreme caution, and don't attempt if you don't feel comfortable with free climbing. Allow a full day to complete this hike.

Many hikers also day hike up Clear Creek to Cheyava Falls. This is a five mile hike one-way and follows the creek bed. Allow a full day to complete this hike. Cheyava Falls only flows in the spring after winters with high snow fall.

Notes: Clear Creek is extremely popular in the spring and fall and permits may be difficult to obtain. Plan ahead! Many first-time backpackers to Clear Creek attempt to hike from the South Rim to the Clear Creek Use Area, however by the time they arrive at Bright Angel Campground they are exhausted. If Bright Angel is not on the itinerary listed on your permit, DO NOT EXPECT TO CAMP THERE! It is recommended that you obtain a permit with Bright Angel Campground as your first and last nights. The nine mile stretch from Phantom Ranch to Clear Creek is south facing and consequently is in the sun from sunrise to sunset. Expect neither shade nor water for the entire length of the trail. During spring, summer, and fall months it is best to hike this trail in the extremely early morning or in the evening.

Water Sources: Phantom Ranch, Clear Creek, Colorado River, and seasonally at Sumner Wash (potholes). THERE IS NO RELIABLE WATER SOURCE BETWEEN PHANTOM RANCH AND CLEAR CREEK!

Campsites The Clear Creek Use Area (AK9) is currently designated as "at-large" camping with the following exceptions: No camping in the Clear Creek drainage from its mouth at the Colorado River upstream to the first major side canyon entering from the east, and between the North Kaibab/Clear Creek Trail junction and Sumner Wash, a distance of two miles. Two large trailside cairns mark the first legal camping on the west end of the Clear Creek Use Area. There are several campsites along the Clear Creek Trail on the Tonto Plateau. At Clear Creek, there are four campsites along the creek. They are not designated, but are recognizable. Bring your own animal proof container to safeguard your food. A composting toilet is located between the trail terminus and the Clear Creek drainage. Human waste and toilet paper are the only items that can be placed in the toilet. BE AWARE THAT THIS AREA MAY BE SUSEPTIBLE TO FLASH FLOODING!

One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent of 31 deeper Triplog Reviews
Clear Creek Trail - GCNP
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Clear Creek Trail provided me a gorgeous, dare say spectacular, morning hike.

Some background. My wife and I stayed two nights, three days at Phantom Ranch down in the Grand Canyon. On the middle day, my wife walked and relaxed amidst the scenery, and I took some modest hikes.

As temperatures were expected to exceed 100 degrees by afternoon, I set out early – a bit after our 5 am breakfast sitting – to travel in the cooler morning air. (Note, camera for photoset had East Coast time, 3 hours ahead.) I aimed first to cover a short section of North Kaibab, to the second bridge from Phantom Ranch, then to double back and catch Clear Creek, not far in, just until it rose onto the plateau in front of Sumner Point on Zoraster Temple. All in, maybe a total of 7 plus miles round trip, including both the North Kaibab and Clear Creek legs.

The hike did not disappoint – I was graced with amazing views.

First, North Kaibab. North Kaibab runs essentially flat on the section to the second bridge, and was covered in shade in the early morning. The going was easy, and the lower canyon walls towered up around me, as I took in the gnarled shapes, bulges and incursions created by the intense pressures that formed the ancient rock of those walls.

And for me, the lower rock walls exuded a powerful vertical thrust, as what I presume actually happened a couple billion years ago. Collisions of land masses flattened out rocks not horizontally, but vertically, and hot magma rose upward through any cracks.

In contrast to North Kaibab, Clear Creek does not run horizontally, at least at the start. The first mile or so involves a vertical gain, modest, of about 1200 feet. The trail runs somewhat rugged in places, but the grade remains moderate and consistent, and the switchbacks and climb readily navigated. After the climb at the start, the trail levels out, gaining just several hundred feet in elevation to my end point below Sumner Point.

Clear Creek offered long, deep vistas. As I walked along, great lengths of the lower canyon walls with their powerful vertical lines and interlaced colors stretched out in multiple directions. Soft green expanses of low vegetation on talus slopes offset and counterbalanced the power of the walls. The Colorado river poked into view at spots. The horizontal strata of the lower sedimentary layers of the canyon laid stacked atop the lower walls, with their horizontal lines creating a sharp contrast to the vertical thrusts of the lower walls. And in the far distance, above, the bands of rock under the south rim prodded through visible amidst the distant haze.

Then the in-your-face close-ups. The level section of Clear Creek I traversed ran along the boundary between the hardened lower walls and the first set of horizontal sedimentary layers. The solidified magma and metamorphosed rock of the lower walls, warped and twisted though they were, reached up as if columns of a roman building, to hold up the great horizontal lengths of red and orange sedimentary sandstone. And while the sedimentary sandstone originated far into the past, many hundreds of millions of years ago, the magma and rock supporting them overshadowed this sandstone in age, having originated over a billion years ago. The boundary between the two represented eons and eons of ancient rock gone.

Finally, I met a complete change of scene once up on the plateau. On the plateau, gone were the vertical and horizontal strata that had for the last stretches stood at essentially arms length away and towered dozens and hundreds of feet above. Now I stood on gently undulating ground, not unlike that on the trail to Plateau point, amidst low cactus and scrub. Visible now, though, its view no longer blocked by the walls, rising a thousand feet above, rose the front face of Sumner Point, itself despite its size just the forward wall of one arm of the gigantic Zoraster Temple.

I turned around here, but Clear Creek ran for many more miles, to reach, well, Clear Creek proper, and along the way to the creek, provide stunning views further up the Colorado and further around Zoraster Temple.

Clear Creek Trail - GCNP
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So Brahma was the plan for this three day excursion into the Grand Canyon with @carriejane and Brahma it was! We had permits for two days in the area, one for the AJ9 use area and one for the AK9 use area. The original plan entailed camping at the top of the redwall break on the way to Brahma a summit in the morning and then camping at Sumner Wash on the second day. However, the prospect of carrying 8 liters of water up the redwall break on day one, may have lead to a liberal interpretation of Grand Canyon backcountry rules on the first night. Nevertheless, our summit attempt was a resounding success and it was one of my more memorable three day trips into the big ditch. I was very worried about how my surgically repaired right shoulder would handle a Brahma summit attempt less than two weeks after getting the green light for the resumption of full physical activities, but I learned that I can do a lot of things with one arm and Carrie pushing up on my butt. Speaking of learning things, we also learned that a Nalgene can survive a 50 feet fall through the redwall and that tents are best when staked during high winds and that the poles that come with the Fly Creek Platinum are very durable under stress.

Day one was a pretty standard and at times warm hike to Sumner Wash, where after filtering six liters of water we decided that a loose interpretation of the backcountry zones was a better option than lugging our heavy packs up through the redwall. Especially, with some worries about my shoulder as it was. After setting up camp, we did a little day hike further east down Clear Creek Trail and then returned for an amazing night in the shadow of Zoroaster.

Day two was a play it by ear day. The goal was to go as far as my shoulder could take us and to just enjoy the journey along the way. Thinking my shoulder would only take us as far as the redwall break, I told Carrie to pack enough snacks and water for a return around lunchtime. This turned out to only be a seven hour miscalculation, as the shoulder was feeling great. With every obstacle cleared, I began to feel more confident and our determination to reach the summit grew. The rope sections certainly proved difficult, but it can be done with one arm and a little nerves. Similarly, the short climbs and scrambles can be negated by a nice two handed push on one's bottom. The traverses and wind tested Carrie's nerves, but even they proved just minor obstacles in our quest for one of the Canyon's ultimate summit gems. There was a little route finding Snafu to contend with on the final scramble, but there was no way it was going to stop us at that point and we quickly got back on track. The summit finally became a reality by 2 p.m. There are not a lot of names in this register and someone had replaced the book about ten days ago, but I was pleased to see that my now barely discernible entry and ode to my old man was still there on some loose papers in the register. We knew we had a long day still ahead of us, so we turned around after only a few minutes on the summit. The way back was pretty uneventful aside from the wind, which had me looking back several times to see if Carrie was still attached to the earth. The tougher of the ropes proved to be a little difficult going down, but it did lead to one of my classic quotes of the day. When I told Carrie I needed her help at the bottom, she asked, "What do you want me to do?" I yelled down, "Just catch me if I fall!" She looked up a little dumbfounded at what I thought was a pretty reasonable request. Going back was a slog, we were both basically out of fuel to eat and water to drink, but we got back to camp sans headlamps (both of us had left ours in the tent) about ten minutes before dark, just how we had drawn it up.

We endured some of the worst and most sustained high winds I have ever encountered while backpacking Sunday night, but were still able to get a pretty early start Monday morning despite the nearly sleepless night. We later learned that those were most likely 40 plus mph winds that we were dealing with for about 12 straight hours. The hike out started off quick and then became a bit of a slog around the tip off point when some quarter inch sized hail began to pelt us, luckily this turned into some softer snow very quickly, but the high winds and white out conditions required us to draw on a little grit for the final three miles of the climb out. We were rewarded for our tough little climb out with the road closed and gated off right before the trailhead due to the snow and ice on the road. However, just as we were contemplating how we were ever going to get home with a gated off road now in front of us, a tow truck driver came and unlocked the gate for us and some other pretty anxious travelers. I was not even aware the forest service gated off that rim road during poor road condition events!

In the end, the second time proved to be a charm and I could not think of a better person to share that amazing summit with! It was team work the whole way, nothing came easy and it was always interesting!

The return route I posted to the track is just a leg of the official route for anyone examining route. I turned off Route Scout on our return from the summit to conserve my battery, so just used the official route for an estimation of stats.

Clear Creek Trail - GCNP
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Down S. Kaibab, across Clear Creek Trail, then bushwhack to the base of Cheyava Falls. Clear Creek was running higher and browner than usual. Had to walk through it quite a few times. Returned to the rim via Bright Angel Trail. There was a large rock slide along the River Trail last week but NPS already cleared it.
Clear Creek Trail - GCNP
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Winter backpacking at the Grand Canyon with 8 guys for 3 days and unlimited laughs and memories. Down South Kaibab on day 1, camp at Bright Angel Campground, hike Clear Creek & River Trail on day 2, and out on Bright Angel on day 3. It rained during the evenings and everything was wet but when we were hiking, we had relatively good weather for this time of year and all the storms.

Enjoy a 4 minute summary below of our adventure and let me know what you think.

[ youtube video ]
Clear Creek Trail - GCNP
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Saturday: Hiked down South Kaibab then took the Clear Creek Trail over to CC. Light rain on/off all day.

Sunday: Hiked up to Cheyava Falls (dry) and a little beyond. Checked out some other side canyons and did a little bit of exploring. Light rain at times.

Monday: Hiked out from CC. Rain in the morning. Sunny and hot by the time we got to Phantom Ranch. Hiked out Bright Angel.
Clear Creek Trail - GCNP
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I headed up to the Canyon for a little bit of a gut check. I wanted to finish what Karl and I had started Thanksgiving of last year, which had really only amounted to a quick recon of the route through the red wall on the way to Brahma. I was able to get a pretty good idea of the rest of the route through Joe and Dave1.

I drove up Friday evening. There was a self-pay machine on the way into the park, but I was not sure if they were suggesting to pay or actually insisting, so I continued through the entrance and pretended that I did not know how the machine worked. I camped at the first dispersed site along the forest road that takes you to Grandview tower and the rim S. rim section of the AZT.

Keeping with the apparent rules of Brahma, which I gathered from reading other HAZ members trip logs, I got very little sleep the night before. However, I was able to double Dave's suggestion of two hours of sleep and got a restless four hours.

Even at 5:30 in the morning, foot traffic was a little heavy along the upper stretches of S.K. Nevertheless, the relentless downhill went by very quickly, as it always does. In fact, the first half of my morning went by very quickly and I made relatively good time. I was staring at Mr. T, getting ready to start my ascent through the red wall less than five hours after starting the trail.

I had already did the red wall section with Karl back in November, so there were no surprises and it went quickly and smooth. The ascent up through the shelves of Hermit shale went equally as smooth, in fact, for myself the red wall and Hermit shale stretches really make the hike, a little climbing but nothing overwhelming and kind of fun. Upon reaching the top of the shale, I got to enjoy one of my favorite stretches and the first of two long stretches of scree slopes that one must traverse to reach the Zoro-Brahma saddle and the starting off point for the final climb through the Coconino to reach the summit of Brahma. Actually, there were probably zero parts of this portion of the hike that I liked and the traverse is physically and mentally taxing to say the least.

I learned several things on this day. Firstly, I have no problem with climbing, scrambling and a little exposure. Secondly, I hate navigating scree slopes! Scree with unforgiving exposures is nearly my kryptonite. I find it to be scary to navigate, slow going and too tedious and annoying for my level of patience and demeanor.

If one examines my route, its easy to recognize I took a different approach up Brahma than the established route. A part of this was be design, however, most of this was a product of getting off track and choosing to improvise instead of returning to the established route. There are several failed attempts on my route where I stubbornly tried to climb up from a more southeasterly corner. Another lesson learned yesterday, improvising and being stubborn rarely pays off in the Canyon, as it will always wins those battles. Nevertheless, I reached the summit and enjoyed perhaps the best 15 minutes or so of outdoor experiences I have had to date.

The views were amazing and some ominous clouds mixed in with a couple heart-stopping claps of thunder made for a unique summit experience. I realize there are tougher spots to reach in the national park, however, I felt an immense sense of accomplishment and satisfaction standing on top of Brahma with the summit to myself. Similarly, there was an emotional aspect to the experience as well. I could not help but notice that JJ had left a happy Father's day message behind in the register and this held some certain relevance with me.

I had told a few close friends that I was doing the hike/climb as a small tribute to the man who made me who I am today. He would have turned 56 on the 30th of April had he still been alive today and I can't think of a better way to celebrate life than to spend a day cheating death.

The trip down was not the easy part. I ran out of water while making the traverse over to the Zoro-Brahma saddle and was really only able to squeeze about a three oz sip out of the bottom of my bladder after that. Similarly, because I was hiking a little fast and somewhat dwelling on my water situation, I walked three-tenths of a mile past my static lines to drop back down through the top layers of Hermit shale. Again my stubbornness led me to try and fix the navigation error on the fly, but there are no alternate routes and after yelling at myself inside my head I turned around and retraced my steps back to the first difficult roped down climb. I don't want to make excuses, but I think I was also making a few poor choices, because I was a little warm, kind of exhausted and I knew I had at least three hours to look forward to of no water (ended up being closer to five hours. Consequently, I may have been acting with a little haste and not thinking clearly. Nothing gets one's heart pumping like being alone on top of the Hermit shale out of water and unable to locate the lines needed to down climb.

The rest of the climb down and the trip back to the Clear Creek Trail went very slow, my actions were very deliberate because of fatigue and my rapidly declining stores of energy. The worst part of no water was not being able to eat, as my mouth was too parched to eat, or probably speak at that point. With only three miles to go, I broke down and drank some water out of the bedrock in Sumner Wash. I did not have my filter so I used my long sleeve undershirt as a pre-filter, filled a Gatorade bottle and alternated taking very small sips and rinsing out my mouth as I made my way back to Phantom.

There is no dodging S.K. so I just sucked it up and embraced the seemingly endless and very slow going climb into the night's sky. I passed a trail runner near the top and he asked, "Did you do a rim to rim to rim today?" I said "no," but thought to myself after doing Brahma what an insulting question, rim to rim to rim please, that's for the tourist.
Clear Creek Trail - GCNP
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First off... Bagged it!!!

Day 1: Jamie and I left South Kaibab TH around 7:30am made it to Phantom by 10am.
Up North Kaibab with a stop at Phantom Creek and the pretty falls there. (Note: don't drink from phantom creek untreated!! Bleh!)
Continued on to Ribbon Falls and Upper Ribbon Falls. I climbed up into Upper Ribbon and tested the depth of the pool quickly finding it to be half a hippy deep!! Set up at Cottonwood Camp well before sunset. Watched the moon rise over One night short of being Full!

Day 2: loaded up with 6 liters of water EACH then Jamie led the way back down almost to the Ribbon Falls bridge. Not far up trail from there we took a sharp left and plowed our way up a steep ridge of shale-y hell!! The initial 300ft of this ridge made me want to vomit especially with the extra water in my pack!
After what felt like a full transformation into a bighorn sheep we began a rather "easy" traverse deep into this side canyon. Shortly in you'll come across some cairns that cross the drainage and lead you up up up closer to the redwall! Almost there!!

The redwall break was boulders and trees and a few itty chimneys. Basically even with the bulky backpack I was having the time of my life! Very last little up climb Jamie went first and we hauled our packs up then I scrambled up smiling like a fool.
Up through the Supai to a GORGEOUS false saddle contour toward a very obvious supai break on the other side of this bowl up up up and BAM!! The most stunning campsite EVER. We arrived with 3 hours left until sunset on Brahma-Deva Saddle. Full Moon rose tonight...oh man...I might've cried. Watching the moon light up the entire canyon from way up there tucked away in this saddle between giants...

Day 3: we were lazy yesterday so opted to pack up camp and summit our Temple this morning. A scramble up the Supai the usual slip n slide up the Coconino,across a boulder field of bitey kaibab limestone then through a very convenient little coco chute with a happy beckoning pinyon pine shading our way then poof! Youre up!

A few minutes walk north into the trees and you find yourself at the least impressive summit register ever...
This was Jamie's first temple back in 2012 the register he signed has since been removed. A nalgene bottle with a crappy little notebook has replaced it. Only one other signature from 2014. Nothing exciting but oh the views were insane!!! We signed the book, cracked open our IPA (which I managed to spill shortly thereafter...luckily we both had a few swigs and he's still talking to me!) Then we were off are completing my usual exploratory summit circuit, more sliding down, rearranged our gear and packs (which we had cached near the supai break near the saddle this was our exit point toward Clear Creek.)
Down the Supai, traverse the redwall rim to another awesome redwall break on the east ish side of Brahma!! Have any of you been here?? Cuz you really should go. Its a blast! Boulders and chimneys and rabbit holes and chutes and pack lowering. Oh my!
The descent went by fast. We were in a sweet drainage that ended above Clear Creek camp in a massive Tapeats pouroff! We backtracked and followed a sheep route IP and over right onto the Clear Creek Trail. Sun had set by now but we walked on west in the last glow of daylight. We set up camp in the dark in the arms of Zoroaster Canyon. Did I mention time of my life?? Moon rise sneaking over Wotan's Throne. :)

Day 4: late start at 10am!! Made it to Phantom by 1pm. Almost 2 hours of coffee and lemonade and tons of junk food!! Ohmygod summer sausages tasted like heaven. Oh yeah remember those 6L each of water we had? Down to 1/4 liter when we got to phantom! Perfect!
Up and out bright angel followed by showers clean clothes and lots of beer tequila and burritos at Plaza Bonita!

To summarize: BAGGED MY FIRST TEMPLE WHOOOO! And best canyon trip ever by far.
Clear Creek Trail - GCNP
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Did South Kaibab :next: just past Sumner Wash on day 1, Clear Creek trail :next: creek + hike up clear creek to ruins on day 2, hike back to BA CG day 3, hike out day 4.

Seems like I'm one of the few non-rock-climbers that takes this trail ;) Don't know why, as it is the perfect winter trail. NPS doesn't like hikers to take this in the summer because there is no shade, but that's what makes it such a great trip in winter. I was hiking in a short sleeve shirt in early January, can't beat that!!

Want to come back and hike to the Falls some time, but from what I can tell the permits during prime time go pretty quickly.
Clear Creek Trail - GCNP
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It was another memorable trip into my beloved Grand Canyon! Lee, Karl and I spent four days backpacking along the Clear Creek Trail. We had nice weather overall and made good use of our time.

Day 1 - November 27, 2014
The three of left Phoenix around 6am and drove up to the south rim. We dumped Lee’s car at the South Kaibab parking area and headed down the SK Trail starting around 10am. We made good time and cruised down to the Tipoff. At that point Lee and I decided to hike the Miner’s Route. Karl was feeling under the weather and would meet us at Phantom Ranch.

This was my second time on the Miner’s Route and it was quite a ride. The footing is very loose and off camber and a full pack doesn’t make things easier. We were able to slowly follow the route as it zigzagged down and both of us had no issues. We arrived on the River Trail and it was smooth sailing to Phantom Ranch.

We met Karl at the canteen and the three of us loaded up on water and then started up the Clear Creek Trail prepared for a dry camp. The trail gains over a thousand feet in the first two miles as you hike beneath the Tapeats and the Great Unconformity. We arrived at the two mile point and found some campers there so we continued the half mile to Sumner Wash and found plenty of good camping there. We set up camp and settled in for the evening. The sun set around 5:20pm and it was dark by 6pm. It got very cold and I was a little worried for the rest of the trip. We all headed for our tents before 8pm. Luckily this night was by far the coldest of the three nights.

Day 2 – November 28, 2014
We woke on Friday morning and took our time breaking down camp. Lee and Karl had plans to hit Brahma but Karl wasn’t feeling up to it due to being under the weather. The three of headed east on the Clear Creek Trail and dropped down to Clear Creek where we selected the main site nestled under a cluster of Cottonwoods. This is a sweet site and the creek is close by. A pit toilet is also available. There are lots of good camping sites in this area.

It was about noon by the time we had camp set up. Karl wanted to relax in camp while Lee and I headed up stream in search of ruins and Cheyava Falls. We both knew the falls would be dry (they flow in the spring) but wanted the adventure. We made decent time as we scanned the area for ruins. We found the main site roughly a mile north of camp. I didn’t realize it was a full complex with 21 rooms. There is also a register. Take a fresh notebook if you go because the current one is just about full. It dates back to 1999.

After the ruins we continued up Clear Creek and followed an established route to Cheyava Falls. We had to cross the creek a few times but never had to get our feet wet. It’s likely there is a stronger flow in the spring so be prepared to get your feet wet. We made good time and then could see the falls and yes they were bone dry. We got a little closer but were running low on time. I wanted to be back to camp by 5pm to avoid darkness. Lee did some quick exploring while I filtered water. We started our return around 3pm and cruised back to the camp. I didn’t realize how much elevation we gained until we headed down canyon.

We got back to camp and settled in for another evening. We were expecting it to be bitter cold but were pleasantly surprised to find mild temps. We set up the party lights in the Cottonwood trees and our neighbors were jealous. Funny thing the next morning one of our neighbors walked up and asked if we were camping at Deer Creek a month ago. She recognized the party lights. Sure enough yes that was us. We had a good laugh at what a small world it is.

Day 3 – November 29, 2014
Karl was feeling better and Lee was getting an itch for Brahma. They quickly packed up camp and headed back to our first night’s camp. I stayed behind. I wanted to do some exploring down canyon. I would meet them later.

I got my day pack together and told them my plan and I was off down canyon. I followed Clear Creek south and came to the intersection with an east arm. I scoped this out on maps ahead of time and wanted to take a look. I hiked in about a mile. The creek bed is dry through here and walls are really high. There is a mixture of Shinumo Quartzite and Bass Limestone among other formations. I want to return here when I have more time. I returned to main intersection and then headed a bit down Clear Creek. This is another amazing drainage and I want to return with more time to go all the way to the Colorado River.

After my brief hike downstream I returned to camp under the Cottonwoods and relaxed for an hour or so. During this time I ate and filtered more water. I wanted to be prepared for another dry camp at Sumner Wash. I left camp around noon and cruised the six plus miles back to our first night’s camp. Karl and Lee’s tents were set up. They were exploring the Redwall break and would return within an hour or two.

We settled in for our last evening as we ate dinner and then lay on our backs and did some star gazing. It was clear skies tonight but the moon was out and was very bright at roughly 60% full. I got lucky and saw a few satellites and a pair of shooting stars.

Day 4 – November 30, 2014
We woke fairly early and had camp broken down by 7am. We hit the trail soon after and cruised back to Phantom Ranch. My pack was noticeably lighter. I weighed it at the ranch and it was 27.5 lbs. It weighed 42 lbs on Thursday after I loaded up on water.

The hike up South Kaibab was the typical grind but it flew by. The skies were overcast and the temps were cool. We topped out around noon and then loaded up and headed back to Phoenix. Another wonderful trip complete!

This was a really fun trip and great company. I would definitely return to Clear Creek with more time to spend exploring. I would love to see Cheyava Falls gushing. That would be a sight to behold! Thanks Lee for picking up the permits and driving.
Clear Creek Trail - GCNP
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I finished November in the exact way I started the month, climbing out of the Grand Canyon. Karl myself and John headed to the Clear Creek area for four days.

Day 1:

We did not rush out of town on Thanksgiving day. I had to drop the dogs off, Karl was feeling a little under the weather and there was no reason to rush to the Canyon, as we had lined up a short opening day and were not stressing the after ten start time. The highlight of day one was the Miner's route and Tamales at Phantom Ranch. I found the Miner's Route to be pretty cool and was happy I decided to make the short detour with John. We met Karl at Phantom for a long lunch and then headed for the Clear Creek Trail. We camped at Sumner's Creek area, the starting point for Brahma, were treated to a great sunset and were probably all in bed by 8:30 p.m.

Day 2

I woke up thinking Karl and I were heading off for a Brahma attempt, but it was very clear from the start he was in no shape for that, his flu/cold effects were still lingering. I was excited to give Brahma a shot and was happy to have Karl along because of his experience, but it was evident that we just needed to get him to Clear Creek where he could relax for nearly two days if he wanted to. The hike to Clear Creek was great, seemed to go by pretty quickly. John and I explored up Clear Creek while Karl stayed back at camp. We located the well known set of Indian ruins, and I snapped a picture of the less visited site near Cheyava Falls(which were dry as expected). The ruins were in the exact location mentioned in Butchart's book, however, without positive identification I was not ready for the commitment to explore further, but upon review of picture it is definitely them. Therefore, I will be returning. We enjoyed a nice couple of hours under the party lights, a slightly warmer night and a good night's sleep.

Day 3

I got the crazy idea of getting up early and heading back to Brahma for at least a quick recon, then dry camping Saturday evening and enjoying a shorter hike out Sunday. Karl, although not looking the greatest, thought he might be up for at least a trip to the break in the red wall and John was actually good with the plan. He would stay at Clear Creek for most of the morning exploring some side canyons and then meet us back at the Sumner Creek/wash area later in the afternoon. So Karl and I headed back to Brahma a day later and with a little bit more of a time crunch. Clear Creek Trail can seem to drag on a little, but the first section climbing out of Clear Creek or dropping into Clear Creek is a real gem and I really enjoyed the trail and area overall.

Even with moving camps and Karl battling the Ebola we were still staring at the base of the first climb within the distinct crack of the red wall just afternoon. However, I kind of sealed the fate for the rest of the day by wasting nearly 45 minutes looking for a climbing route right up the center of the crack. I literally made three different attempts. Karl watched and yelled out occasional tips, but nothing about it made sense to me. Joe said it was tricky but nothing crazy and I found myself in what I would call a "crazy" position. In fact, my fight or flight kicked in and left me worthless for a good ten minutes, but I jumped right back up and gave it another shot before I accepted defeat. We then hung out in the remaining shade ate some lunch, I was pining a bit about what the whole situation, but we both agreed to head back. About 30 feet into our hike back, Karl and I almost simultaneously noticed a distinct cairn on our left and then what looked to be a great route up. Duh! The route was clear as day. Rather then dwell over the several mistakes I had just made and the easy ways I could have avoided them, I just shot up the route. There was rope secured in a few spots along the way, but obviously not necessary, as one was tightly secured making it unusable from below. I found the climbing and scrambling to be fairly easy, especially, after having tried to free climb up the pour over area in the beginning. It felt so great to reach the top of that little break, the views from the saddle were truly breathtaking and it was a very exhilarating experience for me overall. A modest feat to many, but a very satisfying experience for myself. From there I continued on route and decided to go until a 2:30 or 3:00 p.m. drop dead time. I realized quickly that the first little climb through the break hardly means you are there. I was on and off the route and generally rushing too much, along with probably climbing too much, the latter further reinforcing that I should just head back and call it a successful recon, which I did. Besides I had kind of irresponsibly left Karl behind in the crack and just yelled down that I would turn around by 3, about half way up the second climb I heard him yelling from saddle area that he would wait for me. I was starting to feel like I was holding the guy hostage and I knew he was not feeling well so I headed back. I assured Karl that I was good to go from the saddle and he could return to camp. Meanwhile, I headed out towards Sumner Butte and tested my mettle a little on the narrow land bridge connecting it to the larger terrain features. Returned to camp, Karl was there, John was there and all was good.

Day 4:

Living by the old adage that men walk quicker out of battle then into battle we all made great time out Sunday morning. Even with a stop at Phantom Ranch I don't think anyone took longer then 4.5 hours to reach S. Rim and vehicle.

This was just another very satisfying Canyon trip, great company and a great destination. I feel the bug for the canyon even more now after my modest first ascent up just a crack in the wall. But I gained some good experience, got a much better understanding of the area and feel pretty good about knocking it out completely with more time and planning.

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
This hike starts at Phantom Ranch. See Bright Angel Trail, North Kaibab or South Kaibab Trail for directions.

This map shows the roads that lead to Grand Canyon National Park.

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