|Hermit/Tonto/Monument/Tonto/BA, AZ|| |
|Backpack||28.00 Miles||5 Days |
|7,000 ft AEG|
|After months of anticipation, my hiking buds finally arrived last Monday ... we hit Shoshone Point and other rim attractions that day. On Tuesday we enjoyed breakfast at ET, then somewhat reluctantly headed out into the chilly, windy weather to do Battleship - thankfully once we were down the trail a bit the temps warmed up and the wind died down.
Wednesday we made final preperations, got breakfast from the deli, and caught a ride with Kristi to Hermit's Rest ... she took some trailhead pics for us, and we were finally off.
We made good time down Hermit and enjoyed the hike. I literally jumped for joy - backpack and all - at the sight of my first blooming redbud tree. The Supai traverse between Santa Maria and the Cathedral Stairs seemed endless. We took a break at Lookout Point to assess the weather and encountered a few snow flurries - much better than heavy rain, which we were not prepared for. There was rain and bad weather all around us, but we seemed to be hiking under a halo of goodness. We descended the Stairs with a scary story Kristi had told us echoing in our heads ... no problem, though. After the Stairs, it was nice to enter a desert environment and reach the Tonto trail. Shortly after that, we reached the crowded Hermit Creek campsite and waited for the previous night's campers to depart our chosen site.
Kelly's water filter failed immediately, and Jess found someone who could instruct us on the proper usage of our borrowed Steripen - a great piece of gear, which I think we will all be buying soon. Thank goodness we had that with us, as well as some chlorine tabs which I always carry for backup, or our trip would have ended right there.
There was no place to hang my hammock at that site, so I just bedded down on my pad ... my first night sleeping in the Canyon was also my first night spent out under the stars. My Phoenician buddies were a little cold that night, but my only issue was a leaking Thermarest - repaired it the next day.
Next morning, Jess and I played a little hackey-sack at the campsite, then we all set off down the creek to Hermit Rapids. Wow - the rapids blew me away! I've never stood next to big rapids before ... the only thing I could compare it to was Niagra Falls roaring past my face. We explored and relaxed and watched some boats run the rapids ... we all agreed we want to do that now.
We returned to camp, packed up, and set out for our next destination ... strolled across the Tonto to Monument Creek, then on down to Granite Rapids. Upon arrival we found that we had the entire beautiful beach campsite to ourselves! I hung my hammock and we all made ourselves comfortable. Listened to my ipod for a few songs before falling asleep looking at the stars and the canyon walls glowing in the moonlight.
Woke up feeling great after the hammock sleep - I will never sleep on the ground again, if I can help it! With the hammock there are no pressure points, and I get a really restorative sleep ... my sore hips thanked me by feeling much better.
We lounged around the beach, watched the vegetation volunteers do their thing, visited the rapids, and got a visit from backcountry ranger Debbie. Eventually we packed up and made the short hike upstream to the Monument Creek campsite.
We choose a nice site with a good tree to hang from. We were warned by our neighbor that the place was overrun with mice at night - no problem, we have ratsacks. We each explored a bit, treated water, had dinner, and rested up for the long hike the following day.
Then our Steripen's batteries failed and I discovered that it takes special batteries - not the double or triple a's that we were carrying ... thank goodness for the 13 chlorine tabs, which would see us through to IG.
As soon as it was dark and I was in my hammock, I saw by moonlight that my tree was crawling with mice - yikes! I told Jess to make room for me in the tent because I might have to join her. After some consideration, I decided to try to stick it out in the mouse tree ... just couldn't bear to give up the joys of hammock sleeping. Besides, by that point we had been out for several days and mice didn't seem like such a big deal. I cocooned myself in the hammock and pulled the extra fabric over me so that should a mouse drop onto me, it wouldn't fall directly onto my face or head ... after I woke up in the night and everything seemed fine, I didn't even bother with that precaution again.
We woke early and had breakfast, then broke camp pretty quickly and began the climb out from Monument. We stopped briefly at Cedar Spring, which Ranger Debbie had told us was running, to check it out. We didn't really need water, but I hate to pass up something like that without checking it out ... now I understand what they mean when they say the water at Cedar is "hard to collect".
This was the worst day for me, since I stupidly wore my Merrells and by this time I had several painful blisters ... I lagged behind Kelly and Jess all day. When I caught up to them resting at the western arm of Salt Creek - or was it Horn? - I noticed a gorgeous GC Pink Rattlesnake stretched out on the sandstone ledges a few yards from where Jess was doing the same. Very cool! The snake let us get a few pics before curling up in a defensive coil ... never even rattled at us. Around this time, I decided to change shoes and see if hiking in my New Balance Minimus 1010's would give me some relief - thankfully, it did help alot.
Food had been on all our minds, as our supplies were running low ... we had dinner and breakfast left but not many snacks. When we rolled into into IG, I immediately made for the ammo can where people leave extra food - kinda busted through a crowd of people there and ripped open the can ... passed out peanuts to my partners, but that was all that was there. Then I realized that the dayhikers were a bit taken aback by my rather uncivilized behavior, lol, and I decided to explain myself - and try to score more snacks in the process. I said something like "hey do you guys have any extra food that you don't want to carry out - we are pretty hungry, we've been out for four days" at that point they almost all exclaimed "oh!" in unison, and began reaching for food to give us - yay! We scored a pb&j, chips, snack bars, and my big prize, a bag of grapes and strawberries - nothing ever tasted so good. I was pretty proud of my new found assertiveness and yogi-ing skills.
We settled into the topmost campsite, and I hung my hammock from the pack pole and the shade ramada ... no hanging anything from trees there, but I didn't need to. We very much enjoyed the ammenities of what I dubbed the "Hilton IG" ... safe drinkable water with the turn of a tap, large clean private toilets, picnic table, ammo cans, etc. Pretty cush.
Kelly went off to hike Plateau Point while Jess and I soaked feet in the creek and strolled a little ways down the BA. Later, we went to see Ranger Elyssa about getting our jr ranger badges and wilderness explorer patches ... we completed our workbooks over dinner, then attended her condor talk and afterwards were sworn in and awarded patches. It was fun. And I really felt like we had earned those patches over the previous few days!
After another good night's sleep, we spent a fairly leisurely morning packing up and we were some of the last to depart - at least Jess and I were ... Kelly took off ahead of us. Kinda sad not to finish as a group, but we understood. I wore my NB's for the hike out, and didn't even feel my blisters - it was a small miracle.
All in all, it was one of the best weeks of my life. Wish we never had to come back ... can't wait to do it again.
I used to love Merrells ... now I hate them, and will never buy them again. Never thought I would backpack in the NB Minimus, but they saved me.
The borrowed Steripen and Jetboil Flash both rocked ... will be buying both very soon.
My new The North Face Crestone 60 pack was a great choice - love it.
And hammocks are the way to go!
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