Second attempt at Miner's Route was successful!!
First time I tried to go up Lower Miner's it was
HOT and I was alone and not nearly as insane...er strong as I am currently. It seems I'm in the midst of some sort of hiking tear and I'm REALLY enjoying it!!
I grabbed my buddy Erin (I knew she could physically do this and with me in the lead I knew she'd be OK) and we hopped down BA ran in to TONS of Canyon friends, David Cassidy a hiker/guide friend of mine was finishing up a 9 person group of R2R-ers, Ranger Betsy on patrol, 3 guys from Florida heading up from IG, some random guy from Dallas heading down to find his mom, a sweet couple from Cali who we rented sleeping bags to at work, another random guy from O-H-I-O
, and Mule Rancher Derryl,
Once we hit Indian Garden we realized that Mule Rancher Derryl was on his way down with a mule tour! Nooooo! Erin and I took off down the trail until we reached the Tonto where we heard Derryl say "If you look to your right you'll see my friend Haley heading across the Tonto Trail we probably won't see her again for a few days"
We trotted along at great speed along the Tonto until I realized I passed the "entrance" to the OLD BA trail, I just found it a few weeks ago with 9L so I wanted to take it! We made it down Old BA in what felt like seconds, but the mule group had caught up! I pointed out to Erin how the Old BA crosses and instantly heads down the OLD Devil's Corkscrew, you can't take the Old BA and NOT take the Old Corkscrew!!!
Again Mule Rancher Derryl said out loud "There she is again, Haley I wouldn't suggest going offtrail there" then he continued on to say "You'll see where they're walking is the Old trail that was used..." and then Erin and I were off on a scree filled adventure down the old corkscrew!
It's very easy to follow until the last 20 feet or so where it more or less vanishes, no matter, just go with it!
We continued down BA and hit the River trail where I pointed out our route to Erin then we ran off to Phantom for Lemonade (
) and to introduce Erin to my trail crew friends and some friends that work at the Canteen, along the way a group asked us our itinerary so we told them...the word "Badass" was haphazardly tossed around multiple times, if only they knew what an understatement that feels like after having finished this fun little trek.
Ok so heading up the Miner's Route you will see a "route" of sorts...but really just go what feels right for you, I stuck to the Vishnu and Zoroaster "stairs" it was easy to dart up and not as "scree-ee" after a few minutes I realized I had officially climbed higher than my last trek, score! I waved Erin over my way and going was much easier for her, after that she dogged my steps and we had a grand old time.
There are two neat little saddles that are great to break at and enjoy the views, holy beans the entire Canyon SINGS to you from these vantage points!! I did step off the trail at one point, it went up a few feet further than I thought, it was so faint it was hard to follow it in some spots but I knew the way I was facing was wrong so we looked around, Erin called out "maybe it goes up?!" I looked ahead into the sun and spotted the trail uphill, duh Hippy!!
UP, UP, UP!!! My calves wouldn't be too happy with me if they hadn't been put through so much torture the past few months!
Eventually you reach a perfect saddle and the break in the Tapeats looms ahead, you reach it within minutes of leaving the saddle and from there just go up up up some more! The Miner's Cairn greets you at the top of the Tapeats and from there you just follow the uh..."trail" right into the Tonto...I have NEVER been so happy to run into the Tonto before!!
We followed the Tonto west until I found the "ridge" of Bright Angel Shale that heads up toward the break in the Red Wall known as Skeleton Point Route or Upper Miner's. 9L had suggested it would be easier to stick to the BA Shale ridge that goes up just to the right of the "wash" that runs down from the Break, we did just this, the going was not easy but not TOO hard, just hard on the lungs, phew!!
We spooked four pretty mule deer as we reached the Muav layer, I kept us on the big slabs of rock and the climb was much easier that way. Once we reached the bottom of the Redwall I kept heading up, it seemed logical at the time but once we reached the wall itself I KNEW something wasn't right, I had Erin wait by the wash while I inspected a climb to the right...this couldn't be right 9L would never doing something as ridiculous as this!!! And it didn't match everything I'd memorized...okay I'll try to the left, Erin came with me, we checked out another easy climb...I use the term easy very loosely...
I checked the third and last possibility from where we were and I just knew it wasn't right so I whipped out my phone and checked out the photos of the break that 9L had taken, those didn't help so I turned off airplane mode and made a quick call...from the middle of the Redwall!
Coverage was spotty and the call dropped within seconds, so I hit redial and ended up talking to Chumley...yea that was a big help
Thanks for the laugh Uncle Chums! I managed to get ahold of John again and I quickly realized that Erin and I had climbed up into the Redwall prematurely! So we spent the next 15 minutes crawling, and I DO mean crawling! down the "wash" about 50 feet until I found this "VERY obvious" game trail...FYI all the monsoons we've had have washed away any trace of this "OBVIOUS" trail for the first 15 feet, before Erin and I climbed down we spotted it from above, once you know where it is it's pretty obvious...
I'd say just stay on top of the Muav Cliffed out layer, there's a "route" that leads from the wash directly to the break in the Redwall, after that it's cake! You climb up up up some more, walk over a TON of bones (named Fred of course) and 5 minutes after the bone yard you are slapped in the face with South Kaibab and it's tame, soft sand and walled in trail...
I've never been so happy to walk on South Kaibab! Don't get me wrong I thoroughly enjoyed all the offtrail, it as fantastic and fun and Erin was a champ and didn't even get scared or anything when I took us too high up! It was A BLAST!! Yes, these routes are strenuous but only because you climb SO many feet in such tiny sections, its STEEP but boy is it fun!!
Oh and of course all of the crazy exposure...but if you're not comfortable with that I don't know why you'd be off trail in the first place!!
I'm very happy that I finally got to do this, and I'm even happier that I got Erin to join me! She was very excited about the offtrail and hasn't stopped thanking me for taking her...