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mini location map2018-09-19
34 by photographer avatarThe_Dude
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Bill Hall TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Sep 19 2018
Backpack27.51 Miles 8,498 AEG
Backpack27.51 Miles4 Days         
8,498 ft AEG50 LBS Pack
1st trip
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I have not posted in a while, mostly due to not having much hiking time, and those hikes I have done have all been the basic in town variety. This one was well worth a write up. I started out from the North Rim with a group of 5 others Wednesday afternoon for our planned 5 day excursion. We hiked down to the Esplanade on the first day after making the drive up, just a little over 4 miles on the trail. I started out with 2 and a half gallons of water since we were planning on dry camping the first and last night, so I left a gallon cached at our campsite that we were going to use on the way up. Beautiful area with lots of interesting flora for sure. The second day we broke camp fairly early and headed down the Redwall into Surprise Valley. Slow going on the trail, very rocky and steep heading down the wall, felt a little reminiscent of Piestewa with the big stone steps except I had a 50 pound pack on my back. We made our way through Surprise Valley and headed east towards Tapeats Creek. Our group had folks of different hiking abilities and ages, so we ended up splitting into a few groups. When I made it to Thunder Falls, I enjoyed a great rest cooling off in the shade of the trees right by the ice-cold stream. Absolutely fantastic, and possibly some of the best tasting water I have had in the backcountry. Now revived, we made our way to the Upper Tapeats camp area and secured the site right on the creek. The rest of the day we just took turns jumping in the creek and setting up camp. The water was really cold, but felt great after a long day of efforting in the heat, I would imagine it was right around 100 degrees at camp. We had planned to do the loop with Deer Creek as a day hike the next day, but some of our group were really struggling (a few were first and second time backpackers, I would suggest getting more smaller trips in before trying this one) so that idea was scrapped and we planned on hiking up the first major gain by Thunder Falls the next day once the sun went behind the canyon walls. I took off on my own in the morning to at least go down to the Colorado River to enjoy the scenery and try my hand at fishing. I took the west bank trail down to the river, and there was quite a bit of gain and some mighty thin trails. On the way back to camp, I decided to ford Tapeats Creek to get to the east bank, the crossing was a little dodgy but I found a good spot to make it across. Back at camp I enjoyed some lunch and then packed up my tent so we could make the afternoon ascent. Filled up as much water as I could at the falls since now the next two nights would be dry camps. We found a spot in Surprise Valley to sleep for the night so we could make an early morning approach on the Redwall. The next day I made it back to our first camp mid-morning, and then we waited a few hours for the rest of the group to catch up. Spent a lazy few hours in the shade soaking up the surroundings and reading a book. By the time everyone was back to camp, it looked like a few folks were running really short on water and would be hurting for the next day. I left over a half gallon for the group, and about 3 in the afternoon I decided to hike out to the car with one of the other guys. There was water at the car, so we would have as much as we needed once we got up top, even though we ran out on the way up. Climbing up the White wall with the afternoon sun blaring on my back was not the best, but we made it up with many breaks along the way. Got up on top of the rim just after the sun set and made our way by moonlight back to the car to set up camp on top. Greeted the sunrise the next morning from the use trail right to rim's edge with a cup of tea and my last Clif bar. We waited a few hours for the other folks to make their way up (they all got a real early start), and went and had lunch at the Jacob Lake lodge before heading back home to the Valley. All in all, a fantastic first backpack trip for me in the Grand Canyon!
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