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Grandview Trail - Cave of the Domes
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mini location map2013-04-07
16 by photographer avatarHippy
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Grandview Trail - Cave of the DomesNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 07 2013
Hiking7.70 Miles 2,616 AEG
Hiking7.70 Miles   9 Hrs      0.96 mph
2,616 ft AEG   1 Hour    Break
 no routes
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I decided that, after dropping off 9L, LP, JJ3 & Dave1 for their hike, I would meet them after work along Grandview, they were coming up, I'd head down.
Which of course would mean a late start so I wasn't about to go alone so I recruited a friend from El Tovar (Joe) to join me.
We hit the trail at 5:30pm and ran into 9L about 15 minutes later, we briefly chatted and I was told to relay how far ahead 9L was to the Johns and Dave who were all barely 10 minutes behind him.

Joe and I seemed to make decent time down the trail, I should probably mention I'd never been on this trail before and everything I happened to know about it was from my Tomasi book and 9L's previous trip logs :D

So we made it within half a mile of the cabin as the last of the sun's rays vanished, I cartwheeled in front of it and we continued on in the dark. I repeated over and over as we hiked the many descriptions and 9L's words of direction to reach the "spur trail" that led to the cave, down a drainage on the left will wrap around and take you into the redwall, got it...we briefly explored a tiny trail that led to a campsite, if it were daytime we probably wouldn't have considered that one, so pass that and continue on up a tiny hill until you reach this knoll, drainage type thing there are 15 or 20 rocks lined up "blocking" off the path, yeah, make a left and it'll take you down the drainage toward the red wall, awesome!

It was easy going, the trail is a tad bit steep and pretty rocky, single track the whole way but very clear to follow, it leads you up a tiny ledge to a pair of "fake caves" which at first made me say "Oh man you've got to be kidding me!" I was really disappointed...until Joe spotted the trail sneaking up to the left and BAM! A Huge alcove with a small opening that my Uncle could surely enter without feeling too claustrophobic :D
After a quick shuffle it opens up and you immediately spot the register and tons of knotted up rolls of string...

Everyone told me to unravel the string...but honestly if you have ANY sense of direction you should be fine, the cave goes directly straight back it's very straight forward with a few rabbit holes and chimney sections. There are no looping side caves that can get you lost, not that I saw anyway, no matter how hard I tried each side section in the first part of the cave led directly back to the register, I set up a spare headlamp by the register and we doubled back to it 3 times, then I decided enough with these tiny holes let's explore THAT one, so we headed deeper in to the largest opening and as promised it takes you into the heart of the cave and beyond...

They don't call it The Cave of the Domes for nothing, the ceilings in each opening is a huge...well, dome!! It's beautiful! It's still a living cave for as dusty and dry as it seems we encountered many "living" features including some that looked like "cave bacon" and "cave popcorn" a few tiny "shields" and I even got a photo of a full, umm, "straw" Where a stalactite meets a stalagmite all the way through, it was awesome and in a very tight crevice, I had to chimney down into a little "pocket" to be able to climb up and see it, absolutely FUN!!!

There was one part where you have to climb up a very steep and slick section to reach what looks like just a random ledge, it's actually a thick saddle maybe only 15 feet deep, there is a 12 foot drop on the other side, Joe began his descent down the center facing in and I opted for a short-person route on his right side, I slipped a bit and luckily he grabbed my hand, I got one foot hold and we were able to swing me around behind him were I flung myself up on his other side, THAT was pretty freaky, I scrambled back up to the saddle to catch my breath, he made it down and helped guide my footing,

For someone taller than 5 foot this shouldn't be TOO hard, there is an obvious hand and foot hold, just match your feet, grip the "knob" with your right hand and there is a pocket for your right foot just below the knob, I had to pretty much chimney best I could but it's a wide section, maybe 4-5 feet so once I was halfway Joe had to pull me down, if you're taller and/or have better bouldering skills this should be much easier for you!

Just please don't try this alone!! And if you can't get down please turn back...get some rope or a guide or something, try again later!! It really is kinda hairy if you're not use to this kind of thing.

From the saddle, before you climb down you can see across this big cave and see what looks like a black pile of rocks, we called it the Grim Reaper, once you climb down you realize its another opening...AWESOME! This is about the halfway point of the cave....I won't describe after this because words can do it no justice. If you can safely get to this point and will respect the environment and not get lost or hurt, you might deserve to sign that register. It's no secret but it gets tight and I'd say 'scary" but in all honesty I thought it was hella fun!! Make smart decisions, be safe!

We signed the "End of The Cave" register and sat in the dark contemplating the darkness and silence...then headed out, as I mentioned climbing up that "halfway climb" was a pain, Joe had to boost me up so I could grab the knob and scramble up to the saddle, got my heart racing until I reached the rock cairn on the smooth part.

By the way, green party lights in a dark cave might be absolute awesomeness, there were moments when we walked silently only by the dim glow of my green lights.

We spent just over 2 hours in the cave, for a trip time of about 9 hours plus at least an hour of rest/breaks. What a blast! Made it back to the Subaru at the TH at 2:20am and I was home in bed by 3am, what a great adventure!!!
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