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Grandview Trail - Cave of the Domes
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mini location map2012-11-07
28 by photographer avatarcactuscat
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Grandview Trail - Cave of the DomesNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 07 2012
Hiking7.70 Miles 2,616 AEG
Hiking7.70 Miles   8 Hrs   12 Mns   1.16 mph
2,616 ft AEG   1 Hour   35 Mns Break
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Got a bit of a slow start, leaving Grandview at 9:45.
Forgot what a knee-buster the trail down to the mesa is!
Faced my first challenge just below the coconino saddle ... the spot that I nicknamed the "red funnel of death" on my first visit. At the start of the Hermit Shale, is this sketchy side-hill across a slope of slippery red gravel that would neatly funnel you to your death a couple hundred feet below in a lonely spot in upper Cottonwood Creek Canyon if you fell. The path is barely wider than your foot, and not too deeply imbedded into the gravel. My first time facing it, I froze for a bit and had a hard time making myself cross it ... this time I just took a deep breath and forced myself to march right across - it wasn't too bad.
I had a group of three backpackers behind at this time, but I only heard them - they never caught up.
Below the saddle and the funnel, I cached 32 oz of water.
Reaching the beginning of the mesa, and the pleasant stroll there, was a relief.
Saw my first person up close at the junction with the Page Spring Trail.
Reached the cabin a few minutes later and had my first break. Just under two hours from trailhead to cabin. I sat in the shade on the north side of the cabin, since it was already warm - though very nice.
One of my main purposes for this hike was to soak up some sunshine and warmth before the temps plunge and the snow starts this weekend! I thought I might see some snakes doing the same, but no - still no grand canyon rattlesnakes for me. Plenty of lizards and a few birds were about all I saw for wildlife. I was happy to see a solitary verdin - one of my favorite desert birds, which I have not seen since leaving Phoenix.
From the cabin, I headed north then beared left at the sign for the group campsite to the right. I moseyed along, really enjoying the sweet trail across the mesa. When I came to the wash where the cave trail starts, there were absolutely no cairns or rock arrows like there sometimes are. I just knew it must be the spot - from the descriptions I'd read and info I gathered from friends at work - it looked right and felt right. I checked out the wash and found quite a few footprints heading down it, so I followed ... it soon turned into a distinct path, and within five minutes it took me to the west face of the mesa and started working north for a few minutes to the cave. 28 minutes from cabin to cave.
I eagerly crawled into the cave, into the first large room with the register. Stayed there for awhile, looking around and attempting to take photos. Found a stalagmite (is it "tite" or "mite" when they are coming down from the ceiling?) that was slowly dripping water ... couldn't really get a pic, but it was cool to see that the cave is still living and growing.
I signed the register and saw that sometimes 3-5 days go by withot anyone visiting. I wrote that I hoped someone else wold come along, so that I would feel more comfortable going deeper into the cave. Then I took a roll of nice sturdy kite-string and started in ... was barely around the first corner when I heard a group of three people arriving - yay! For once I was very glad to have other people arrive. :D
I continued on and quickly zigged up and left when I should have zagged down and right - ended up at that 20+ foot dropoff. As I started to squeeze my way back out of there, the others caught up. I said hi, and asked if they were coming up there ... the guy in the lead - he turned out to be a guide - said "uh, no - we're gonna go down this way" I had to laugh and say "yeah, that would be the right way huh?". I took my time backtracking and following them to give them some space. It was at this point that one of my flashlights failed, despite new batteries, making me glad I had followed the 3 light sources rule!
This part was so fun! It's not so tight that it's scary, or hard to breath, but you definitely know you are caving! Got to the next place where it opens up and saw the actual dome ceiling, some more stalagmites and formations (cave bacon, anyone?) and signatures of early visitors on the walls.
I turned back after that, while the others contined just a bit farther. I was still outside the cave when they exited. We all brushed and pounded off large amounts of cave dust, and chatted as we squinted in the now very bright sun and heat. The guide Shane and I quickly discovered a connection with only one degree of seperation ... he is good friends and hiking buddies with a guy I work with - actually the main guy I go to for info and directions on things I'm interested in. Pretty cool.
I took a short break back at the trail intersection, and eyeballed the butte as I had been doing all day. I found the beginning of a path that looked promising and considered trying to contour around the butte to get a good look from all sides, but I decided that I had had enough adventure, and I better just head back the normal way. I really didn't want any part of the Grandview trail in the dark!
57 minutes from cave to cabin. Another short break at the cabin - 80 degrees.
In the Hermit Shale, I was passed by a very fit couple finishing a dayhike around the mesa on the Tonto trail - the only people I would see until the trailhead.
Stopped at the coconino saddle - 60 degrees.
2 and a half hours from cabin to Rim. Finished just as it got really dark, 5:57 pm - 50 degrees.
Really nice day and fun hike!
Named place
Named place
Horseshoe Mesa
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