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Rainbow Bridge via South Trail
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63 by photographer avatarsquatpuke
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Rainbow Bridge via South TrailNortheast, AZ
Northeast, AZ
Backpack avatar Apr 02 2011
squatpuke
Backpack13.18 Miles 2,794 AEG
Backpack13.18 Miles3 Days         
2,794 ft AEG50 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
PaleoRob
Randal_Schulhauser
ToadOfTheRocks
Another great trip with PageRob; good bro is a serious hiker and always a blast to partner up with...if you haven't been on a PageRob expedition, I highly recommend.

Randy picked me up at Flagstaff and we rendezvoused with the crew at Fiesta Mexicana in Page that same night, at 5pm. We were able to meet Rob's and Toad's wives which proved interesting since they became participants in our adventure as well.

After dinner, Randy went back to Safeway to replace the stout that uncapped in his truck on the way up... :( I picked up a gallon of aqua for my camelback and few apples to compliment the hotel's instant oatmeal breakfast. After our morning's regularities, Randy and I drove over to the Gay residence for final preparation.

The drive to the TH was long and I appreciated Randy offering me the front seat since 3 in the back of Rob's midsize would have been cozy. We stopped for a few photo ops; the weather at this point was phenomenal. A wrong turn near the trailhead cost about hour and some wear/tear on Rob's truck as well as our stress levels. Our minds eased, when we found the Rainbow Lodge and its distinct cabin site remains. With endorphins high, we started our trek.

The majority of the trail was well marked yet very rocky. We survived several miles of valley's and ascents only to arrive at the STEEP Yabut pass....HOLY CATS....I looked down at the unshaded 2 mile, knee shattering descent and knew this would be rough. So I buckled in, grabbed a swig from the camelback and hit it hard...finally arriving at the bottom dry creek to removed my pack. I waited for what seemed like 30+ minutes...then finally got anxious that someone had gotten hurt. W/O pack, I hiked back up a few switchbacks to see if I could find the crew. I saw all, moving forward about 3/4 the way down; relieved, I hustled back down to my pack and waited another 15+. The delay came from a pow-wow the other 4 had without me, appears 2 members were having knee issues and the group concluded we would NOT be hiking back out.

Toad, Rob and I pushed on from the descent bottom and after a mile or so we found physical and mental relief from pools of water which eventually developed into a small, babbling brook. We found the sandy campsite and started to set up. Soon after, John and Randy showed up and in celebration we broke open the Cag's and Mountain House.

After dinner, John climbed up the nearby canyon sidewall and FOUND enough cell signal to send disjointed text messages to wives and friends, desperately looking for a boat ride back. Rob continued to sent "OK" messages from his SPOT, but hindsight proved these messages never reached anyone and the wives were a bit worried.

For me, that night was BRUTALLY hard to sleep. The chorusing frogs were nice, but they were drowned out by the heavy winds which you could hear start at the top of the narrow canyon then whistle down several seconds later to hit the tent and stir up all the nearby sand. Seconds later, you could feel the sand descend on your face and arms. SHEESH. After catnapping all night, I woke up covered in sand. :?

We discussed options again that morning, and the consensus was to break camp and haul our full loads to the Echo Campground and/or hit the 10:30am tour boat (not a very realistic option considering our group hiking speed).

Refreshed and content with our plan, we set out into the beautiful narrow canyons looking for Redbud pass. Toad was "pretty sure" there was a sign, but when the first possible (unsigned) canyon came to our right, we had to consult our maps to be sure. After dismissing this canyon, we traveled another 1/2 mile and found the Redbud sign along with interesting petroglyphs.

With renewed legs, we climbed through the steep pass with relative ease. Couple of spots were sketchy (especially with packs), but easy enough with some caution. On the other side of the pass, we meandered through the bottom of Rainbow canyon until we hit a fence. Anticipation was high and we knew we were close. Sure enough, a few hundred yards later and we were looking over our shoulder at RAINBOW BRIDGE. With sun over head (past 10:30am) we dropped our packs at Echo and went off to catch up to Randy who was already photographing the bridge in the rain. Rob and I hustled back to beat the rain and the group decided to camp in the HUGE back alcove of Echo Campground.

After the sprinkles moved on, we all set out to ponder and photograph the bridge's magnificence. We found a PERFECT kick-back spot down at the bottom of the creek which looked up toward the bridge. We soaked feet, filter water (upstream LOL) and enjoyed the shade.

That evening, we echo'd chaunty songs and drank cough-syrup tasting libations while being entertained by the 5 pack-horses swimming in the pond below our alcove. (Toad was relived he didn't "clean up" in what he originally thought was good water.) John provided the only bloody entertainment of the trip when he (accidentally) shoved a protruding stick from his collected firewood deep into his nostril. Ahhh...good times.

After a much better, albeit cooler night of sleep. We packed up early and headed to the bridge again for more 'morning' photos (we had about 2 hours to wait for the boat to arrive).

We arrived at the dock early and relaxed near the wonderfully clean restrooms. The boat arrived and after boarding I quickly downed several glasses of (mmmm) cold lemonade. The boat ride back proved to be extremely scenic with wonderful views of the contrasting blue sky and surrounding Powell buttes and canyons.

We later found that our price for the boat ride was NOT the $130 bones expected, and they kindly gave us a 'shuttle rate' of $65 bucks. The resort shuttle bus (and cool driver) gave us a ride directly to Rob's house where we piled into Randy's F150 for another crazy drive back to TH. We were all relived to see Rob's truck untouched and with inflated tires. As well, the cooler full of Sam Adams and greasy finger food was greatly appreciated . The ride back to Page was LONG but stress-free, and we brought closure to the adventure by meeting up at Stromboli's for some fine, Italian dinning.

Great Trip.
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