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mini location map2019-10-18
8 by photographer avatarShatteredArm
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Nankoweap TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Oct 18 2019
ShatteredArm
Backpack29.00 Miles 11,804 AEG
Backpack29.00 Miles2 Days   5 Hrs   8 Mns   
11,804 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Every once in awhile I like to slow things down and actually camp during a hike. Decided Nankoweap would be a trail that would not be enjoyable (or safe) if trying to cram into a day (although I may try that in the future...maybe with a Little Nankoweap exit? Nah, bad idea).

Day 1
Left Phoenix at 4:30am on a Friday, quick breakfast in Flagstaff, and arrived at the north TH at around 10:30am. Had a warm beer at the parking lot, and set off by 10:50. The first few miles was mostly up, with pleasant temps, through an area that is mostly charred. Hit the saddle at around 12:15pm. This is where you enter the Grand Canyon proper, and where, with my fear of heights, I started to worry about what lay ahead (the brochure makes it clear that there are some dropoffs, and some trip reports I've read talk like this is a real cliffhanger).

Got to Marion Point at 1:22pm, an hour and change after leaving the saddle, and thought, "Wait a minute, I thought that was supposed to be the scary part? What gives?" The brochure (probably for good reason) obviously overstated how sketchy this trail is, and certain articles I've read on it are even more overblown. Cached a liter of water there for the way out, and continued on.

Hit Tilted Mesa a little before 3pm, where we finally got to start descending in earnest. This section is actually more treacherous (IMO) than the Supai traverse, which I realized the first time I slipped and fell on my ass. After a slow, careful crawl down the crumbly part, followed by a slightly grippier traverse along the Tapeats rim, we were finally glad to be down on flat ground, and reached the creek around 4:30pm, where we set up camp, cooked dinner, and were promptly joined by a couple of overly cordial mice who turned out to be very adept at avoiding flying rocks.

Day 2
The goal for Day 2 was just to explore. The plan was to just camp two nights in the same spot. Headed down Nankoweap Creek by 10:30am with a water bottle, a filter, and a few little snacks. We got to the beach below the granaries around 70 minutes later, and chilled there for over an hour. It really was a nice spot to chill. The Colorado was nice and green, and actually tasted better than Nankoweap Creek.

Headed up to the granaries and chilled there for a half hour or so, where we met a solo hiker 39 days into Hayduke, and a couple of guys who had hiked down from the saddle that morning. Headed down to Nankoweap Rapids, and by 2:40pm we decided to head back up to camp for some quality relaxation ahead of the hike out the next day. I read a few chapters of Irvine Welsh's Acid House while sipping on High West Campfire whisky (in lieu of an actual camp fire). Our rodent visitors were not nearly as aggressive; perhaps they were somewhat disappointed in the scraps that were left for them the previous night.

Day 3
Broke camp, decided to get that hellish climb up to Tilted Mesa over with, and left by 9:15am. Also decided to carry an extra 2 liters of water with me in case it got hot. What's an extra 4 1/2 pounds, right? A half mile or so later, we were passed by the guys from the other campsite...which I will admit hurt my pride slightly, but I was mostly impressed (first time I've been passed while hiking out of the canyon). Got to Tilted Mesa at 11:20am, and chatted with the other guys while draining that extra water into our other containers and snacking for a bit.

We didn't start towards Marion until almost noon. Arrived at Marion Pt at 1:15pm, where the other guys were just getting ready to leave. After a 20 minute break, we continued on, and hit the saddle a little before 2:30. We decided to continue without breaking here, so managed to get ahead of our competition for a minute, but they overtook us half way down the hill. Finished just before 4pm, a few minutes after our new friends, who we chatted with for a few minutes, and gave them our respect for having beaten us by 10-15 minutes total (still pretty happy with our 6:45-or-so time).

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Definitely a fun trip, and I'm already thinking about the next one. I wouldn't say Nankoweap is my favorite Grand Canyon trail, but you really can't go wrong with any of them.
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