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Old Hance Trail
5 Photosets

mini location map2013-04-07
26 by photographer avatarJohn9L
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Old Hance TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 07 2013
Hiking15.00 Miles 5,300 AEG
Hiking15.00 Miles
5,300 ft AEG
1st trip
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Met up with Dave, Johnlp & JJ3 for an adventurous hike down the Old Hance Trail. And thanks Haley for shuttling us over from Grandview!

Haley dropped us off at the fire road a little after 7am and we were off. We started by dropping off the rim and were able to follow the original trail for about a minute and then it was gone. From there it was a bushwhack down the ravine. We basically looked for the best route with the least amount of undergrowth blocking our way. It was a mixture of following a rock laden draw, scrambling and down climbing and then fighting cacti, trees and everything else added for good measure. We made slow progress as we slipped and slided on down. We were constantly reassessing our route. You can see the break in the Redwall at the bottom and that was our goal. We continued down and tried to make our way towards the break which is easier said than done. There were a few times where we cliffed out and had to work our way over to find a better way down. The good thing is there are lots of game trails and also signs of human traffic. As we neared the bottom we located a good use trail and followed that down to the Redwall break. With that we found ourselves in the bed of Hance Creek.

Once in Hance Creek we started making our way down and Dave said there is a pour off that we needed to bypass. We easily found the bypass and it’s well worn with foot traffic. After that we were back in the creek bed and the going was much easier. After a few minutes I noticed some people up ahead. There was a group of a half dozen and they were heading for the cave Tse An Bida which lies in the Redwall. Dave, LP & JJ3 ended up following them while I hung out in the creek bottom. While they were up there I made my way down the creek where I was able to see their route to the cave. It looks tricky. After an hour or so the three of them returned to the creek and we continued down canyon.

Next up we ran into the spring and the remains of Hance’s tourist camp. There are the remains of a few structures and a corral. After a look around we continued down Hance Creek and set a brisk pace. We then arrived at the junction of Hance Creek and the Tonto Trail. While there we pumped some water and talked about our options. It was late morning and we wanted to head for Sockdolager which is a six mile round trip. We started off and cruised down the first two miles of the creek. At that point we reached a pour off and had to locate the bypass. While looking we decided to have lunch. By this time it was getting close to 1pm and I was thinking about the long hike out. JJ3 was able to locate the bypass and with great motivation convinced us to follow. The first bypass is a little sketchy as you climb up a good two hundred feet and then drop down a drainage filled with rocks. We continued and found the second bypass. At this point the time was flying by and I felt my energy draining. I decided to turn tail and start hiking out. I came up with a plan to let the other’s know my progress on my way out. I would build a few cairns along my return and would ask the backpackers at the Tonto junction to let the others know I passed.

I had very low energy returning up Hance Creek. I arrived at the Tonto junction and sat and chatted with the Backpackers there. From there I connected on the Tonto and cruised up to Miner’s Spring (Page Spring) where I took a break and pumped some additional water. Our plan was for me to wait there for the others but I grew restless. I then built a few cairns and spelled “9L” with an arrow pointing towards Horseshoe Mesa for the others to see. While hiking up to Horseshoe Mesa I was able to spot the rest of the crew making their way up. I continued on and built another cairn with “9L” on Horseshoe Mesa. I could see the others down below heading for Miner’s Spring.

Once on Horseshoe Mesa I started the final hike to the rim. It started as an enjoyable hike as you traverse the Supai. Things started getting tough as I hit the cobblestone switchbacks through the Hermit Shale. My pace greatly slowed as I proceeded through the Coconino. I kept looking back towards Horseshoe Mesa and was able to spot everyone else making progress up the trail. As I neared the top I saw a familiar face hiking down. It was Haley with a coworker friend. We stopped and chatted. They were on their way to the Cave of Domes. I asked her to let the others know she passed me. From there it was a very slow grind to the rim. I was glad I turned around early in Hance Creek because I had little to no energy. Once on the rim, I was very happy to see the tourist because I knew my hike was done!

This was one of the toughest 15 mile hikes of my life! Old Hance really sucks energy and is very difficult going. I doubt I ever hike it again. Hance Creek is magnificent! I have an overnight permit for mid May and I plan on going all the way to Sockdolager Rapid. Grandview is a grind after all this but is beautiful as always! The Canyon only gets better!

My GPS Route has been posted to Route Manager. I plan on doing some edits on it and will post here when complete.
Zoroaster Granite
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