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Thunder River Trail
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mini location map2012-10-22
98 by photographer avatarGrottoGirl
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Thunder River TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack36.00 Miles 9,660 AEG
Backpack36.00 Miles6 Days         
9,660 ft AEG45 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Partners partners
RedwallNHops
We did a wonderful backpack with the Grand Canyon Field Institute. The goal of the workshop was to learn and advance our Wilderness Skills which included map/compass skills, route finding, down climbing, and leave no trace. Our guide, Ken Walters, is a geologist and photographer who loves to teach in the greatest classroom of all times: The Grand Canyon!

Our trip started at Monument Point down the Bill Hall trail to where it connects with the Thunder River trail. We stopped several times to work on our map and compass skills. We also learned a ton about the geology of the canyon - which was a dream come true! We saw Thunder River which is one of the most spectacular sites one can see in a desert - a river gushing out of a cliff! Thunder River is the world's shortest rivers in that it only flows for about a half of a mile. At that point it feeds into Tapeats Creek which is a tributary of the Colorado River. We stayed at the Upper Tapeats Campground the first night.

The second night we headed over to Stone Creek. This area is seldom visited by hikers but is well known as a great hike by rafters. We shared the beach two nights with two different rafting parties. One of the rafting parties had great Bocce outfits plus they shared beer and food with us :)

From Stone Creek we headed over to Deer Creek. During this trek we practiced downclimbing some 4th class rock with our heavy packs and a make shift harness using rope and a bowline know which we learned to tie.

We stayed at the Deer Creek campground for our fourth night. In the morning we spotted a Big Horned Sheep. Then we checked out the Deer Creek Narrows. Another awesome waterfall can be found where Deer Creek plunges out of the Tapeats Sandstone to the Colorado River.

From there we hiked up to Surprise Valley for a dry camp as our last night. Dry camp means carrying tons of water! We tanked up from Deer Springs. This again was an amazing waterfall from a spring in the Muav Limestone.

On our hike out, we had the main drama of the trip. We ran into a group with a distressed hiker. He was having arrhythmia. We ended up using the sat phone to call in a helicopter. Gadget Girl (Ken referred to me as Gadget Girl because of the GPS and camera I always carry. He did try to convince me during the trip that I should leave the GPS at home.) came to the rescue with accurate GPS coordinates :)

We don't typically pay for backpacking as we are totally capable of finding our way in the great outdoors. However, to have an instructor who loves to teach and can actually explain geology in ways that are easy to understand is well worth the expense! Ken explained many scientific concepts using us as his "chalkboard". He would build out a scene using hands in different positions that would bring to life the concept he was trying to impart to us. Often as I think back about this powerful teaching technique I am amazed at how much better it is than him just drawing a picture on a board or pointing at a PowerPoint. We understood things because he made it more real for each of us.
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[ checklist ]  Thunder Spring
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