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Phantom Canyon - Lower
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mini location map2014-05-17
30 by photographer avatarJohn9L
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Phantom Canyon - LowerNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar May 17 2014
Backpack28.00 Miles 7,800 AEG
Backpack28.00 Miles2 Days         
7,800 ft AEG
1st trip
Lee was interested in doing an overnighter in the Canyon and I was down. I recently saw the Phantom Canyon trip report from Dave and Toddak and figured it would make a perfect overnight option for us. I picked up the permits before my Tanner Trip a couple of weeks ago. We worked out the details and were on our way.

We left Phoenix on Saturday morning around 5:50am and drove up to the Canyon. We left a vehicle near the BA Trailhead and took a taxi ($12 plus tip) over to SK. We started down around 10am and cruised down taking very short breaks mostly to take pics and soak in the views. We arrived at Phantom Ranch and took a break where we hydrated and ate some food. From there we grinded up the Utah Flats Route starting around 1:40pm. It was hot! This was my first time on the route and it went really well. There is a full blown trail going up all the way to the top of Piano Alley. The trail disappears for a minute once things level off but we picked it back up again shortly afterward and followed that all the way down into Phantom Canyon.

We arrived in Phantom Canyon around 4:15pm to find the area deserted. The camp we used is right at the bottom of the trail. We settled in and got camp set up. Lee was using a tent and I was using my bivy. Afterward we took a quick walk over to the rope drop. It’s right around the corner from our camp. It looked fine and I looked forward to going down the next morning. From there we hiked about a mile up Upper Phantom Canyon. This is a really beautiful area and is very lush. I’d like to return another time with more time to explore the area. I really want to see Haunted Canyon and other areas. We returned to camp and filtered water with my sawyer mini and then had dinner. We both turned in fairly early. The long hike & heat really took a toll on us.

Sunday morning came and we both woke fairly early…6:30ish. We took our time in camp and got all of our gear situated. We had three dry bags. One large bag we borrowed from Chumley (Thanks Chums!) and two smaller bags. Lee took the large bag and I took the two smaller bags. We divided up our gear and then got packed. From there we walked over to the rope and got ourselves situated. Lee went down first while I took pics. After he was down I lowered our packs one at a time and included both of our cameras. Lee took pics as I descended. Going down the rope was very straightforward and a good rush!

Once in the creek bottom we started heading down canyon. We were greeted by two very short swims immediately after the rope drop in. The water was very chilly when we first jumped in. It was roughly 8am and it woke me up immediately! After that the canyon opens up and we proceeded down the creek. Most of the going is very easy. There were a few more swims as we descended. They were very short averaging 10-20 ft across. Nothing is overwhelming and we were having the time of our lives. About half way down canyon we noticed fresh footprints and then saw wet rock. A few minutes later we caught up to a group of three. They dropped in about halfway off some sketchy route that started from the “Antler Room”. I’ll have to see if I can find any info on this route. We chatted with them for a bit and then continued down canyon. There were a few more short swims along the way. Some can be bypassed and others are mandatory. I would guess we did six mandatory swims. They were all very short and easy. As we neared the end we ran into another group who were making a day hike up from Phantom Ranch. Finally near the end we ran into ranger Christie from the BCO. We recognized each other from my numerous trips to the BCO. It was cool seeing someone I knew down here. A few short minutes after that we walked out on the North Kaibab trail. Hell of a morning!

After we were back on official trail we cruised on down to Phantom Ranch and took a long break at the Canteena. We unpacked all of our gear and got it resituated. I was surprised how dry the contents of our packs were. I guess the short swims didn’t give the water enough time to really soak in. The dry bags really helped as well. After our long break, we started the hike up BA. Along the way we took a detour up Old BA where I showed Lee the ruins. We then cut over to the ruins below Plateau Point. From there it was the grind up BA. We were back on the rim around 4:20 and then over to the BCO. After that we made the ride back to Phoenix but made a quick stop at NiMarco’s in Flag for pizza and the golden bbq wings. Damn those wings are yum!

This was another solid trip into the Canyon! I loved Phantom Canyon and would definitely “hike” the route again. Thanks Lee for driving and good times backpacking with you!
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