Been sitting on these permits for 2 months now and finally it was time to go back to the Grand Canyon! I took my oldest daughter there last year for her birthday and she had a blast, so we did it again this year and also brought the boy and his friend. Stevie Wonder and my friends Corey and Alix rounded out our group of 7.
Camped in the forest near Tusayan on Thursday and got an early start on Friday morning down Bright Angel. This is my first official time down the BA. So many people it reminded me of the Squaw Peak superhighway but more international. Great views the whole way down to Indian Gardens. Everything was still nice and green. Took a short break here and filled up on water. Then on to the fun stuff. The Tonto has got to be one of the best trails of all time. It keeps a pretty steady elevation as it winds in and out of every side canyon. The views never stop on this trail. Neither does the sun. After stopping at Horn Creek for a short break we continued towards Salt Creek. This is when several in our group started to break down a bit due to the heat. Thankfully, Salt Creek had some nice shaded ledges to lay down on. We rested and fueled up and headed to Monument Creek. On the decent down to Monument Creek through the Tapeats, we saw 4 kingsnakes. Enjoyed the penthouse suite again at Monument.
Saturday we packed up and headed down to the river. This whole day was spent just relaxing on the beach. The Granite Rapids research project is looking good as several of the recently planted trees had grown quite a bit since last year. After some cliff jumping, the guys mostly just relaxed while Madi did gymnastics and the boys played baseball.. what a surprise.. Several groups of rafters passed through the rapids and a few stopped at the beach before hitting the whitewater. A group of 30 senior citizens on an 8 day rafting trip shared the beach with us for the night. The crew of Jay, Margeaux, and Leila were AWESOME!! After 4 days on the water with the seniors they were so happy to see the kids! They fed us real food and gave us beer.. THEY GAVE US BEER!
Probably the best part of the whole trip was when Margeaux and the crew threw Madi a birthday party at the river, complete with cake and singing! She loved the attention (and the cake)! What a special moment for her.
Next day we helped them pack up and wished them off down the river. Our group then made the 5 mile hike over to Hermit Creek. All of the camp sites were on the east side of the canyon and exposed to the sun so we spent a majority of the day hanging out at a nice waterfall. We did make it down to Hermit Rapids and the beach there. The rapids were intense but the beach there was not that impressive (compared to Granite). However, the hike through this canyon was really cool. I really liked how it went from narrows with some cool waterfalls to a very expansive but still closed in canyon. Back at camp with our larger group, we were very close to running out of fuel but another group was headed out that night and they were happy to get rid of the extra weight so it worked out perfect. They even gave us some of their extra food! We ate very well that night and got a good nights rest for the hike out the next day.
Beat the sun to Cope Butte and made it up the Cathedral Stairs no problem. Took a nice break at Santa Maria and then up up up.. That last stretch of coconino and kaibab are brutal, but victory was ours to be had. FYI the best ice cream cookie bars are at Hermits Rest, and its not even close..
Overall this was an awesome adventure and we had a really great team to share it with. A lot of times I take these trips to be alone with nature and to be secluded, but ironically what made this trip so great was everyone on our team and all of the awesome people we met on the journey.