Nankoweap Drive, Starting Point, Etc.

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ddgrunning
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Nankoweap Drive, Starting Point, Etc.

Post by ddgrunning »

Looking for intel on the status of the road to the "north" TH to Nankoweap, off 89A by Vermillion Cliffs. The maps show it a "Buffalo Ranch" Road, then 8910. Is it a high clearance/4WD situation?

Also, while I'm at it, I get the sense that this is generally the preferred starting point, as opposed to starting from the Saddle Mountain Overlook. That said, I'm interested in hearing views of those with experience.

Finally, I've got a 4 day permit, but considering just taking 3--with two night base camp at Nankoweap Creek. If we were to add the additional night, suggestions on what else to see/do? Looking forward to the day hiked down to the granaries, but not sure what else there is to explore in the area. Suggestions?

Thanks in advance.
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friendofThundergod
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Re: Nankoweap Drive, Starting Point, Etc.

Post by friendofThundergod »

@ddgrunning

I think Buffalo Ranch Road is the way to go. I have seen cross over type vehicles at the TH too FYI and I know a Rav 4 can make it to TH. Its an easy one by canyon standards, but you have a rugged family and could try Nankoweap Butte as a family summit for another day trip option. Just a walk up, "steep" walk up. Start early no matter what time of year, the trail down is warm. The approach to the rim will get the blood flowing in itself. Little Nankoweap Canyon is also worth a day trip too. One can hike pretty far down river along the CO from the granaries as well. Its part of the Hayduke I believe.
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ShatteredArm
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Re: Nankoweap Drive, Starting Point, Etc.

Post by ShatteredArm »

I started from the north TH last October, and high clearance wasn't necessary.

I'd recommend camping right where you drop into Nankoweap Creek; don't bother camping on the Colorado. There are at least 3-4 good campsites within a couple hundred yards of where the trail reaches Nankoweap Creek. There will be lots and lots of mice.

If you have a 3 night permit, you might consider hiking further down along the Colorado towards the confluence; I haven't done that, but I'd like to explore it some day. Another option is doing a full three nights at Nankoweap Creek, and doing day trips to the beach/granaries, and to the top of Nankoweap Mesa or Kolb Arch (I haven't done either of those). Or you could just use the 3rd night as a "just in case" at Marion Point if you don't feel like hiking all the way out (you can camp without a permit near the start of Nankoweap, but it will likely be cold up there).
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toddak
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Re: Nankoweap Drive, Starting Point, Etc.

Post by toddak »

Hiking downstream to the Little CO River would be cool if you've never seen the LCR, but to really enjoy the LCR you'd need to hitch a raft ride over and then back across. Probably unlikely, especially if covid has affected traffic on the river.
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Re: Nankoweap Drive, Starting Point, Etc.

Post by azbackpackr »

@toddak
I'm told you might have to wait quite a while for a trip to come by right now.
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Canyonram
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Re: Nankoweap Drive, Starting Point, Etc.

Post by Canyonram »

You didn’t mention your start date. In that case, the North Access 89A-BLM 8910 is considered year round (still weather dependent). It begins at a lower elevation and less concern for early snow. It has more traffic (if you can use that phrase for this isolated place) in case you have car trouble.

Check with all members of your party in regards to their fear of heights. About 11 miles of this trail is considered ‘exposed’—with inches in some places between you and the edge. A friend of mine used to stage backpacks here for those looking for the ‘less traveled’ Canyon trail. On two occasions, he cancelled hikes when the combination of height and narrowness of the trail froze a hiker in the group and he turned things around. One hiker decided to camp on the rim while the rest went on with the hike; the other group turned around in unison. Only the Beamer is a match for the exposure on the Nankoweap. Be ready to relay backpacks across some of the exposure for the more skittish in your group.

The 2016 Wildcat Fire scarred the first part of the hike—it’s a good education as to the devastation of wildfires.

If you have time, you can top off your water at the creek before heading up Saddle Mountain. Need to filter. Most recommendations I have seen call for minimum of 6 liters per day.

October is a good month for this trail. Expect other hikers who are clued into when to do this trail and a crowded parking lot. Even this late in the year, the Nankoweap can be hot with relentless sun exposure/no shade. Nights can get cold. Mid-October with plenty of wind (which makes those narrow exposures so much fun). Plan on lots of water. This is a down-and-up so consider caching (water, food, trash, gear) on the way down that you can retrieve on the way up. Check with hikers on their way up if you need to pack the warm clothing all the way down. Need your sturdy hiking boots. You can avoid the mice problem by pitching camp away from the well-used campsites. The mice are freeloading off the mini-ecosytem hiker discards and dropped goodies. Not need to camp right on the water---that's where everyone else sets up camp (and leaves their gorp for the mice).

Things to do with that extra day:

In the Canyon: Get your fishing license and try for trout at the river. Don't need a fancy rig---that hungry trout will take anything.

On the way up (or back) to the Canyon:

Take the scenic route up from Gilbert---head over to 89A and go north. A whole new look at AZ over hitting the Interstate heading north to Flag. Take notes on places to visit in the future.

The Arboretum at Flagstaff

Sunset Crater + Anazasi Ruins

Cameron Trading Post—Lots of SW theme goodies in the gift shop. Large collection of Native Art. Try the Indian Taco in the dining room. Carb up for the hike. Last time I had the large size I almost blew a gluteus port gasket—it used to be big enough for two. Plenty of gas to warm up a cold sleeping bag.

Dinosaur Tracks (before entering Tuba City) Look for the hand-painted sign. No Dino tracks at the Canyon since the geological layer that would hold Dino tracks has already eroded away—but not over here.

Cathedral Wash Trail (before Lee’s Ferry)

Lee’s Ferry—historical buildings, start of Grand Canyon and river trips. The fruit trees in John Lee’s orchard used to be free to harvest. Can day hike up the Paria River or go up the Spencer Trail for great views.

Vermillion cliff Condor Research viewing area—bring binoculars and watch the condors.

Horseshoe Bend Overlook—head to Page (not to Lee’s Ferry). Popular stopping point with a fairly new tourist parking lot and overlook structure.

Day raft trip—starts in Page, bus over to base of Glen Canyon Dam, through Marble Canyon to Lee’s Ferry, bus takes you back to the parking lot in Page. Fun trip on the order of a daylong Disney theme Park ride—but kids love it.

Glen Canyon Dam tour (Be sure to take a look at the anchor points in the Navajo Sandstone and place your bet when they will give. LOL)
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chumley
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Re: Nankoweap Drive, Starting Point, Etc.

Post by chumley »

@Canyonram
Lots of good info for the future noobs who happen upon this thread while researching. But if you click on the OP's profile page, you'll see that his hiking experience doesn't put him in the group of people who needs help finding the visitor center.
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friendofThundergod
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Re: Nankoweap Drive, Starting Point, Etc.

Post by friendofThundergod »

@Canyonram
About 11 miles of this trail is considered ‘exposed’—with inches in some places between you and the edge..... Be ready to relay backpacks across some of the exposure for the more skittish in your group.
I think I might have hiked a different Nankoweap Trail, because I can’t think of one spot where packs would need to be removed and the only exposure I can recall, came from the sun, hot and long yes, inches from death, not so much... :?
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Re: Nankoweap Drive, Starting Point, Etc.

Post by friendofThundergod »

@chumley Wait are you saying the Dino tracks may not be a good day three option from Nankoweap Creek then?
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nonot
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Re: Nankoweap Drive, Starting Point, Etc.

Post by nonot »

@friendofThundergod
There used to be an eroded ledge/slope that the old-timers talked of on the Nankoweap trail with great emphasis on the danger involved in traversing it. Having not hiked it myself I cannot be sure, but I think some work was done on that small section around 2008 (?) to reduce the erosion and rebuild the slope. From the historical pictures I interpreted the exposed section totaled about 10 feet long.
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Re: Nankoweap Drive, Starting Point, Etc.

Post by friendofThundergod »

@nonot Oh ok so ten feet then, a little less than 11 miles I guess ;)
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ShatteredArm
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Re: Nankoweap Drive, Starting Point, Etc.

Post by ShatteredArm »

friendofThundergod wrote: Oct 05 2020 4:02 pm @Canyonram
About 11 miles of this trail is considered ‘exposed’—with inches in some places between you and the edge..... Be ready to relay backpacks across some of the exposure for the more skittish in your group.
I think I might have hiked a different Nankoweap Trail, because I can’t think of one spot where packs would need to be removed and the only exposure I can recall, came from the sun, hot and long yes, inches from death, not so much... :?
Based on my experience hiking this trail last year, I would also say "minimum of 6L of water per day", and "crowded parking lot" seem like exaggerations.
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Re: Nankoweap Drive, Starting Point, Etc.

Post by Canyonram »

LOL.

Looks like I have made some enemies and gathered some mule dung on my hiking boots during the process.

Chumley is right in regards to my trip reports. I don’t post trips, photos, etc. I was called out a few years ago by the moderator for not adding to that part of the forum content. When I first started backpacking, I kept meticulous notes and took a lot of 35 mm photos. Back in the early ‘70's I didn’t hike the Canyon, I lived inside the Canyon. I was trying to gather data on feral burros for a MA thesis and was looking for funding from Cleveland Amory/Fund for Animals. I imagined myself a Jane Goddall and Konrad Lorenz ethologist. The idea was to see if there was some intervention in the social structure/breeding behavior that would work to cull the herd. It was necessary since the feral burros were devastating the Canyon’s ecology—you can still see their damage in the crytobiotic soil that was trampled underfoot and still has not recovered. I rented a pack mule and cached my supplies all along the Tonto in order to follow and observe feral burros. I got zero support from NPS–luckily the ‘permit’ process was not yet in full force and one could camp anywhere in the Wilderness area. (I don’t think they even knew I was living in the Canyon—they were also trail huggers.) NPS started a ‘kill-in-place’ procedure and that’s when Amory stepped in and had a hugh fund raising effort to ‘Save Brighty.’ Between NPS killing my subjects and the Fund for Animals literally either air-lifting or rafting them out of the Canyon—there went two summers and several months of field work down the drain. During my time chasing after the feral burros, I was off trail most of the time—I went where the burros went—not where other Colin Fletcher wannabe’s were hiking.

My friend Dave (who worked on the Mississippi River barge lines) had a notion to write up all the Grand Canyon hiking reports between the two of us for a trail guide. I let him take my trunk full of notes, trip logs, my feral burro observations, and photos—he and his wife had a little cabin along the River. He lost everything during the 500 year-flood event in 1993—including all my Canyon notes/photos. He made a comment later that really struck me–he told me all trail guide information apart from basic info is actually a biography and fitness report about the author. All my times/distance made had no real value for a novice hiker or a more experienced hiker. Take a look at Harvey Butchart’s hiking books to fully understand. He also observed that I did not have any ‘soul’ in my notes—I missed the connection to just being outside and alive—I had a pile of sterile facts about the Canyon—times, distance, temperature readings, hours of sunlight, trail slope, etc---but I was really missing the beauty. Read Colin Fletcher’s “Man who Hiked Through Time” for the contrast to Butchart. Dave’s comments were an eye-opener.

Now, I don’t hike for time/distance and I don’t try to trump other hikers with how many miles I covered or photos I have taken. I don’t collect specific trail notes—those are things that can be swept away by a flood. I prefer to wander. I’m likely to shuck my backpack and watch some mud daubers collecting damp soil and then studying their sign in the mud. You don’t cover miles and don’t have much in the way of a trip report if that is your ultimate goal. You also don’t have many hiking partners who match that approach. My hikes are nature field trips and I go as slow as I can to observe as much as I can. If I am breaking a sweat, I know I’m doing something wrong. Others claim speed records, I claim the record for being a trail slug. I’ll use hiking trails as an entry point for my outdoor exploring—the overwhelming trip reports posted here are from those who do not venture off described trails. There is a whole lot of Canyon and a whole lot of Arizona that is not accessible via trails. . . you got to veer away to get your own experience. Do you even have any idea of what you are stomping past when you trudge along the Tonto and stay glued on the trail? You don’t have to travel down the Nankoweap to visit Native American granaries—they are closer than you think. I still navigate with compass—the last thing I am going to do here is post a heading for a no trail trip across the Painted Desert. Someone may want to duplicate the same hike and end up fossilized in the desert when their GPS went haywire. Of course, no one would know since they were not on a designated trail. When I read the trip reports, I see the view of the world from those who navigate as if they are doing a car trip via Mapquest—going from point-to-point, only feeling safe if they are certain they are clicking off the same number of miles someone else achieved, drawing camp in the same tent footprint and hammering tent pegs in the same well-used holes, drawing water from the same spot in the stream, having a bowel movement in the same toilet paper rose field as a hundred hikers before them, taking photos from the same viewpoint that a hundred others have already captured before them. You know you are really backpacking when you take a s**t where no other human being has done the same. I prefer a unique experience and I prefer that you have the same—that’s why you see zero trips reports to my name and zero photos. I don’t want to spoil your unique pleasure.

Years ago I discovered a field of stromatolites in the Inner Canyon (off trail of course). These are “layered colonial structures predominately formed by cyanobacteria. Stromatolites are the oldest fossils on earth, dating back to more than three billion years ago.” When I first found them, I thought they were fossilized cattle dung. LOL. I took a few photos and made some sketches. I then made the mistake of talking to a NPS geologist and gave him the ‘trip report’ to where I found these. I also made the mistake of letting him know they were in several spots along the same contour. Word got out—that entire location is now stripped of these unique fossils. I imagine there are plenty of people who got the directions. That is what happens when someone finds something unique and everyone wants a piece. I’ve located several hieroglyphics in the Painted Desert that are not listed in the NPS inventory. My lips are sealed and I’m not saying—too many people are out there who will harvest them and sell them to collectors—provided they get a trip report. Anyone who has hiked down to Grandview Mesa has probably noticed the pile of rusted tin cans outside of the Pete Berry cook building. When I first hiked here, that pile of cans was about four-five feet high. Now there are just a few cans left. I can only guess that hikers decided on ‘just one’ for a souvenir. Let’s see how many are there next year now that I have mentioned it on a hiker’s forum.

In regards to ‘exposure’ I am using this definition: “Exposure is a climbing and hiking term. Sections of a hiking path or climbing route are described as "exposed" if there is a high risk of injury in the event of a fall because of the steepness of the terrain. If such routes are negotiated without any protection, a false step can result in a serious fall. The negotiation of such routes can cause fear of falling because of the potential danger.” That definition is on Wikipedia taken from this German text on Climbing: https://books.google.com/books?id=S0hsf0nn_xYC&pg=PA71
(Page 71). I related a warning that fit that definition—it is the person afraid of heights that will decide on what to call the trail and how many miles trigger their fear (I stick with the 11 miles of exposure). What is the better advice? Check with members of your hiking party as to their fear of heights? Or ignore that ahead of time and when they freeze on the trail tell them they aren’t afraid because the trail really isn’t exposed because ‘friendofThundergod’ says so? Also, the need to relay backpacks over a given part of the trail is determined by the member of the party who is afraid of heights—it is not determined by someone who can navigate the section of trail with no fear. You can aid that fearful hiker by relaying their pack or you can tell them that ‘friendofThundergod’ doesn’t agree that there is any need to relay a pack. Which advice prepares a hiking party for the journey? Which advice is going to aid in a successful group hike? After all, you don’t have to be afraid of heights but you do need to be afraid of falling from heights. It’s OK if you don’t accept that definition or my application—in fact, add your own to Wikipedia if you like.

If you have someone who reports fear of heights, there are Youtube videos of some sections of the trail. Going against my advice on making the experience your own—you might want to view some of the Nankoweap videos and verify that everyone in your group is prepared for the trail. This guy is pushing past his fear (listen to his breathing and voice):
[ youtube video ]

I worry about the clique of haters who have been trolling my comments (here and on other posts). How are they going to follow a trail when they can’t follow the contents of a post? I listed some things to do ‘Before or After hiking the Canyon.’ I never said that you could visit Dinosaur tracks near Tuba City from inside the Canyon—that is something to do with that extra day either before or after. Read the trail of words ‘friendofThundergod.’ Advice such as 6L of water is the current advice posted by NPS (https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/ ... _Trail.pdf) Go to bottom of page 2. Water needs are one of the most individual criteria for the Canyon. Good for you if you can get by on less—trail advice to other hikers should be to advise the higher amount.

If you really want to find out how many vehicles to expect in the parking lot, check with the backcounrty office on how many people are booked for the hike. Also, forestry scientists have been out here studying the recovery from the recent wildfire—they were there on my last visit to the trailhead when I did a night on Saddle Mountain. If you covet a wilderness experience, two or three other cars make for a crowded parking lot. I didn’t mean to imply Wal-Mart on Saturday afternoon. Sometimes NPS will provide this info.

For both ‘friendofThundergod’ and ‘shatteredarm’, remember that your trail experience is your biography—it is not necessarily advice for other hikers. When you are leading a hike, base it on the least fit and experienced among the group. That includes water amounts and how fearful to be on a trail.
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chumley
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Re: Nankoweap Drive, Starting Point, Etc.

Post by chumley »

Canyonram wrote:I prefer a unique experience and I prefer that you have the same—that’s why you see zero trips reports to my name and zero photos. I don’t want to spoil your unique pleasure.
I respect this view 100%.

But it makes me wonder why you decided to spoil the unique pleasure of the OP with your reply. :-k
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Re: Nankoweap Drive, Starting Point, Etc.

Post by ShatteredArm »

Canyonram wrote:When you are leading a hike, base it on the least fit and experienced among the group. That includes water amounts and how fearful to be on a trail.
I prefer advice to be objective, and not arbitrarily skewed based on who you may or may not be talking to. Advice like "6L of water minimum" could actually be disastrous (ever heard of hyponatremia?), so why even bother trying to tell someone how much water to drink? Just tell people *where* water is available, no need for exaggeration when you do that. And things like "expect a crowded parking lot" are completely subjective, and at least from what I experienced last October, most would agree it is false, unless you believe two vehicles to be a crowd.

I'm not particularly interested in how much canyon experience you have. Several details in your comment contradicted my own observations, and if the goal is for people to have more data, I'm not sure why you're offended over people pointing it out. If you think "11 miles of exposure" is accurate because it technically could meet some obscure definition of the word that only enlightened people understand, it's still misleading because it's directed at people who aren't as enlightened as you.
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Re: Nankoweap Drive, Starting Point, Etc.

Post by Canyonram »

@chumley
chumley wrote: But it makes me wonder why you decided to spoil the unique pleasure of the OP with your reply.
The OP was not seeking a unique experience. He asked for MapQuest directions for this trail and some suggestions as to what to do with an extra day. I provided him with some answers and suggestions as to what to do on his trip to/from the Canyon. Do you any advice for the OP?
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Re: Nankoweap Drive, Starting Point, Etc.

Post by Canyonram »

@ShatteredArm

I wrote an entire book "Survivng Grand Canyon: It's All About Water" that deals with drinking water requirements while hiking the Canyon. I analyzed the popular trail guides for their water recommendations---most repeated the prescription to 'drink a gallon a day.' The NPS has only recently moved off that 'one gallon per day'.' I believe there have been plenty of fatalities at the Canyon involving hikers who followed that incorrect advice. (Only Cody Lundin had information for me that I considered close to accurate.) In a companion volume, "Survving Grand Canyon: Lost and Found," I analyzed the September 2009 death of hiker Andrew Brunelli. It appeared that he was attempting a loop dayhike down Grandview, across the Tonto, and up the South Kaibab. He was found deceased in a side Canyon about two miles from the intersection of the Tonto with the South Kaibab. Found on his person were two empty 32 ounce water bottles and two empty 32 ounce sports drinks---in other words, he followed the 'at least one gallon a day' advice. He was within easy distance to water at Lonetree (a pretty reliable source) just off the Tonto. He did not have a signal mirror or other device to notify those on the rim on his situation.

I devoted a chapter "It's All About Water" to hyponatremia and how to deal with the issue. So, to answer your question, I have heard about hyponatremia. The Bright Angel is a trail that invites hyponatremia with the access to water at the resthouses and Indian Gardens. I've observed many hikers coming up from Phantom, getting whipped by the Devil's Corkscrew section of trail, and then medicating themselves with way too much water at the rest station at Indian Gardens. They go from dehydration to hyponatremia in the amount of time it takes to chug a gallon or two.

Water needs are individual with a whole host of parameters. I agree that telling someone how much to drink is potentially dangerous---advising someone on how much to carry and have available to drink is a different story. I cover the issue of calibrating one's individual water needs in my book. Until someone does their own evaluation, advising someone to carry more water that they may need is about the best advice that I can offer. The OP appears to have some hiking experience in a desert environment, so I felt comfortable with the '6L' advice.

Do you have any advice for the OP or is it your intent to simply troll my responses to the forum? (PS. Thanks for your unintentional segue to my book titles.)
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Re: Nankoweap Drive, Starting Point, Etc.

Post by chumley »

Canyonram wrote: Do you any advice for the OP?
Nope. The first reply covered everything I would have said.
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Re: Nankoweap Drive, Starting Point, Etc.

Post by nonot »

ddgrunning wrote: Oct 02 2020 10:43 am If we were to add the additional night, suggestions on what else to see/do? Looking forward to the day hiked down to the granaries, but not sure what else there is to explore in the area. Suggestions?
A dayhike seems feasible to:
Nankoweep Mesa
Nankoweep Butte
Kwagunt Canyon via River/Hayduke
Kwagunt Canyon via Horsethief Route
Mystic Falls
Mystic Ruins
Novinger Butte
Ehrenberg Point
Alsap Butte
Kolb Arch
Duppa Butte
Colter Butte (not the actual top)
Butchart's window
Little Nankoweep Canyon/Arch
Little Nankoweep Exit Route to Saddle Mountain
Saddle Canyon via River (Tamarisk Thrash Route)
Saddle Canyon via 49.9 redwall route (cannot descend canyon)
you could also explore the Marion-Seiber route.


Some of these may be more difficult/sporty/thrashes than others. Note that for any off-trail hikes in the Grand Canyon you obviously want to be (over) prepared.
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Re: Nankoweap Drive, Starting Point, Etc.

Post by ShatteredArm »

Canyonram wrote:Do you have any advice for the OP or is it your intent to simply troll my responses to the forum?
I guess you didn't happen to read the thread before you chimed in. I did, in fact, provide the information I had that was not already readily available on the NPS guide.

Congrats on your book, I guess. Can't say I'm in a hurry to go read it, though.
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