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Nankoweap Trail
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mini location map2013-05-09
86 by photographer avatarGrottoGirl
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Nankoweap TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar May 09 2013
Backpack30.75 Miles 14,000 AEG
Backpack30.75 Miles4 Days         
14,000 ft AEG50 LBS Pack
1st trip
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Day 1: Six of us met up in Marble Canyon. Five from Tucson and one from Connecticut.

We started the day carrying enough water for a dry camp plus extra water to cache for our third night. I had weighed my pack before leaving home and it was 45 pounds. Then I put in all the fruit I hadn't finished on the drive, some muffins, and my camera. HEAVY!

The start of this hike is unlike any other Grand Canyon trips I've done so far. We walked along a sage brush/juniper landscape and then descended into a small canyon filled with oak and other vegetation. Followed by climb up and up to the Saddle. The Saddle is a logical place to enter as you can see that you skip having to hike through the Kaibab and most of the Coconino layers.

Maybe I'm superwoman or this trail isn't as scary as people talk it up to be. We think we found the "scary" spot on trail but it really wasn't scary. We did , however, practice our supermodel walk :)

We took a break at the campsite near Marion Point. Lisa and I scrambled out to get a better view of Marion Point. It does seem likely that one might be able to actually get out on Marion Point - an idea for the next time on the Nankoweap trail.

We continued on along the very long Supai traverse to the campsite just below the first downclimb which was easily done by our party. From our campsite we could see down into Nankoweap Basin. We could see the Little Nankoweap drainage, the top of the Tilted Mesa, Nankoweap Butte, Nankoweap Mesa, and more. The view of Nankoweap Butte was stunning. It could be called a Butte of many colors!

At camp, Lisa had a surprise for my Birthday. She had hiked in a pound and a half of dry ice to keep a pint of Gelato cold to give me! HEAVEN!!! That was probably one of the best Birthday surprises in my life! I gobbled the sweat treat up amazing quickly but did share a few bites. The guys all enjoyed beers that Josh had carried down.

After dinner we had our nightly reading from the Harvey Butchart Hiking Logs (a tradition we started on our last trip in the GC). We read about how he set out by himself with a rappel down into the area. Then on his way back up he managed to get entangled in the line and had to fight to free himself as he dangled upside down. He then proceeded to have to bushwhack somewhere near the Little Nankoweap over to the trail we were currently on - IN THE DARK. Unbelievable!

The threat of rain made me miss our tent. But we tied up our tarp our spread out our sleeping bags and pads.

Day 2: We stashed some water at our camp and then we hiked down from Tilted Mesa to Nankoweap Creek. It was just a little over 3 miles but practically straight down hill. Steep!!!

We got to the creek and located a good camp area. Joel and I didn't set up since we didn't have a tent.

After lunch we headed out to the River and the Ruins. The view of the River from the Ruins is absolutely spectacular. Seeing ruins and the straightest section of the Canyon at once is pretty special. Joel, Josh, and I returned to camp without going down to the River. Whereas Lisa and Holly did - more on that in a bit.

We returned to camp and set up our sleeping area sans tarp. There wasn't a cloud in the sky by evening time.

Before dinner, I went to find the spring near by. It's not hard to locate, just look for all the green! I didn't find the spot where the water comes out of the ground due to a hillside of grapevines tripping me. But the water was clear where it ran down into the creek so we filled our bottles without treating it.

Holly and Lisa returned and I walked up to them. I could tell they were trying to hide something so I forced them to show me what they had. Six beers! They had met some rafters who made them take some beers back to camp for the whole group!

We had dinner and laughed a lot. The best part was where Lisa was in the middle of some story about herself and was stating a fact about herself, 'I'm a Jew' and Holly immediately jumped up, screaming, 'get away from me!' Come to find out there had been a bee!

In bed, I was staring at the stars and listening to the 'baaa' of the frogs and the crickets singing when all of a sudden there was a flash. It was weird because the whole sky was full of stars. Just beyond the canyon walls there must have been a storm as the flashes continued. I put away my glasses and then soon after Joel tells me to get up we need to put up the tarp. I put my glasses back and and see that half of the stars were gone! We quickly assembled the tarp with at least one false start. We were lucky we had some warning. While we're working away we hear, 'Guys, what do I do?'. Holly had given up on her tarp the night before and was left with just a bivy. Lisa offered some space in her tent and everyone got settled for the storm. The storm wasn't much except three separate rain showers. Our tarp system worked pretty well. Maybe one doesn't really need a tent...

Day 3: We planned to do an exploration near camp before heading back up to Tilted Mesa. I wanted to check out Nankoweap Butte. I didn't realize it but I headed up the wrong ridge/drainage system. We just climbed up until we hit a ridge then I could see that the ridge I had wanted to be on was off a little ways across a steep drainage system. Holly wasn't used to the off trail ascents where you head straight up without stopping and by the time we got to the top of the ridge she was beat. The desert heat was probably not helping her any since she came from the East coast. She didn't want to continue and we didn't want to split up so we decided to explore more in the area we were and not continue to the Butte. We actually were in the area of the Chuar Syncline and just seeing the geology of the area was striking. We found that a huge flat piece of rock had been uplifted probably about 45 degrees in the area and that chunks of the rock had rolled down the slope. In the saddle of the Syncline was some stromatolite fossils.

We went back to camp to finish packing up and then a few of us went off to find some more fossils in an area described by the 'Hiking the Grand Canyon Geology' book. We found some awesome stromatolites and some Chuaria fossils both of which at one time ruled Rodinia! We also found holes drilled for paleomagnetic studies.

After our explorations and lunch, we loaded our packs with extra water and headed back up to the Tilted Mesa camp for our last night. Scott had left in the morning as he hadn't been feeling totally well. It was warm and sunny, and the trail was extremely steep. The narrow parts through the Redwall and the Muav limestone was a bit more noticeable since we were not 'fresh'.

We ran into the first set up of hikers we'd see on this trip. Luckily it was during our break as there really isn't a passing lane on this trail.

We finally made it up to camp. The afternoon heat and the heavy load had exhausted us. We all just hung out reading, studying the map, and soaking in the view until dinner.

Again we didn't set up our tents, but we were pretty sure this time that it wouldn't be an issue.

Day 4 - Hiking out was pretty uneventful. We ran into one party who would be out for 12 days doing a big loop with the Bright Angel Canyon. We got back to the cars before noon and started our drive home. It was sad to leave Holly but she was on her way to Zion for more adventure before flying home. The rest of us headed back for the long drive to Tucson.
Campsite Fraley Pose
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Nankoweap Creek Medium flow Medium flow
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