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Tapeats Creek - 20 members in 33 triplogs have rated this an average 4.7 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Oct 10 2019
adenium
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 Guides 2
 Routes 18
 Photos 97
 Triplogs 218

45 male
 Joined Jul 05 2008
 Gilbert, AZ
Tapeats CreekNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Oct 10 2019
adenium
Backpack36.75 Miles 6,836 AEG
Backpack36.75 Miles4 Days         
6,836 ft AEG40 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
This trip has been on my radar since a friend of mine talked it up. He walked from Bill Hall Trailhead to Thunder Springs and back in a day. An amazing feat, in my estimation. More amazing is that this was the first hike on which he took his novice hiker girlfriend. More amazing still, they're now happily married.

DAY ONE: I slept poorly the previous night. No particular reason, other than a cat that expresses her adoration for her humans in the small hours of the morning. I arose (or gave up trying to sleep) at 3:30a, showered, and ate. I bade farewell to the family at 4:30a, and soundly beat the Phoenix morning rush hour out of town. Six-and-a-half hours and several podcasts later, I arrived at the Bill Hall Trailhead. A last minute review of my pack had me adding my fleece (ouch, like 2 lbs!) and deciding against ditching my Helinox chair. Both decisions were correct in retrospect. Shortly I was hiking down... or up, actually. Bill Hall starts with a hill.

Upon reaching the REAL trail, the bit that tips down into the canyon, I almost slipped and fell on my butt. I wasn't mentally prepared for the steepness nor the loose rock. From there on, I was on alert. No daydreaming, especially in certain sections further down in the shale layers. I really didn't grasp the steepness going down... it wasn't til I came back up that I realized what kind of sadistic SOBs the trail crews truly were. Going down, I was just glad that it went quickly and I didn't fall and break my coccyx.

After the first drop, through the Coconino and Hermit Formations, came the Esplanade... two plus miles of rolling slick rock and easy packed sand trails. Coming and going, it's a great respite from the hard climbs. I had originally planned to camp here, on the edge. In my mind's eye, four months prior, I imagined cowboy camping under the stars on the edge of the Esplanade overlooking Surprise Valley, needing only my sleeping bag for warmth. :lol: Yeah, so NWS issued a freeze warning for Prescott, which happens to be roughly the same elevation as the Esplanade. Plus, at 2 in the afternoon it was windy and already kinda chilly... I decided that despite what the itinerary on my backcountry permit said, I was going to drop down into Surprise Valley. Thus, my first day hike included a drop through the Redwall. By the end of this, I had some serious jelly legs. I pressed on to just before the drop into the Tapeats Creek area. The wind was crazy at this point, and I set up my tent in the shelter of a large rock, weighing it down with my pack. About 5:30p the wind stopped just long enough for me to move to a better spot and stake out my tent. Golden Hour came, and the walls of the canyon lit up like molten gold and all was well.

DAY TWO: Slept in, which is rare for me when camping. I attribute this to being tired from lack of sleep the previous night and also to getting my first new ground pad in 20 years. YES! After 20 years, I ditched the old self-inflating Therm-a-rest for a newfangled Nemo. Anyway...

I had sneaked a peak over the edge at Thunder Springs the night before, so I had an idea of what was next. The hike down was full of expectation and every bend gave me a new and better view of Thunder Springs. This thing just makes my mind reel... maybe I've lived in the desert too long. This spring discharges 21 million gallons of water per day from a cave in the side of a cliff. Standing under it is a constant roar, and depending on where you stand, a constant cool spritz

After this, I knew I had a short jaunt to Upper Tapeats campground. The trail is fairly easy here, although there is one section that demands focus on the trail, lest the unwary hiker take a long and tragic tumble. Reaching the campground, I was at a loss as to what was a campsite, being oblivious to the prominent signs that mark out the three designated camp sites. The first, and most obvious, is the large group site. I gave this a pass as I was neither "large" nor a "group." Also there was no shade. The second, and most choice site, was occupied. This site has nice access to Tapeats Creek and large Cottonwood Trees. Further down, is the third site... my little home for two days. Not a bad site, but poor access to the creek. I mean, it's THERE, thundering at you. It's just not reasonably safe to get down to for filtering water. Not a big deal, as there were a couple of sites upstream at which to filter.

After setting up camp, I struck out upstream determined to reach the source of Tapeats Creek. What happened is that I realized I should have brought my Chacos because there were a ton of water crossings. I did the old "shoes-and-socks-off"" routine about five times before I decided that I hate the old "shoes-and-socks-off" routine and went back to camp. I wasn't too disappointed, it's just too damned pretty to be mad at nature for making me take of my shoes and socks repeatedly.

DAY THREE: Colorado River day. I took the path on the west side of the creek, because... well, we've discussed water crossings haven't we? The east side route demands you cross the creek first thing. So, I headed down the west side path. There are four progressively large hills to pass. These trend with the rock layers that dip to the north. Heading south, you have to work your way up each of these four major "hard" layers then down the other side through "softer" layers. The last is some sort of metamorphic layer (not the Vishnu Schist as I had thought) that places you far up above the confluence of Tapeats Creek and the Colorado River. The payoff is a great view of the confluence... but you end up descending a steep trail with plenty of loose rock.

Having reached the confluence, I decided to head toward Deer Creek, because... sure, why not. The route along the river is easy for the most part, but there is a point before Bonita Creek that looks like a rough descent. I decided at this point that I didn't have enough water to continue on, and I turned back.

At the confluence, I decided to once again wade across the creek. Yes, "shoes-and-socks-off" routine again. But there was a sandy beach on the other side and that made everything OK. On the east side, I tried to find a route shown on the Gaia GPS app that runs along the east side of the creek, but it looks like that route has not been used in a while. No cairns or signs of recent travel on the most obvious route (a rather steep, hand over hand climb). I gave this a pass and returned to camp via the west side route along Tapeats Creek.

After lunch, I relished in the camp chair I almost left in the Jeep. I think I sat creekside for about two hours, just listening to the water.

At about 2 in the afternoon, the sun had moved into a position to bathe my campsite in its full glory. I decided to chug up to Thunder Springs again to both avoid the midday sun and to burn some calories before dinner. I made it to Thunder Springs in about 45 minutes from camp, sat for a spell, and then headed back down. On the way, about 4:30p, I ran into a guy coming up the trail. :o He carried a gallon jug of Arizona Ice Tea and was dressed in cutoff jeans and an improvised tank top. I work in downtown Phoenix, so my first thought was "What's this homeless guy doing up here?" OK, sanity check... he came up from the River, must have come around Deer Creek? After him, were a group of four people, one of whom was wearing flip-flops. Beyond them, a... ... portly gentleman... huffing and puffing up the hill. There was this vibe about this bunch. They were different from the few hikers I'd seen on the trail. Then it occurred to me... they're rafters! No shade being thrown here, just culture shock on my part. They were coming up from the river, 2.5 miles down from my camp, to see Thunder Springs. I get that... but, IN FLIP FLOPS?!

That night I had my first mice in camp. Two little scuffling critters. One of the little F-ers started crawling up the side of my tent so I did the first thing that came to mind, which was to hiss like a pissed off kitty cat. I never heard from them again. For the record, I hung my food in a ratsack from a cottonwood tree.

DAY FOUR: I awoke at 3:30a. I slept well, but at 3:30 my body said it was done sleeping and I should do something else. I arose and packed, made water (which is a joke between a friend and me... it just means filtering... Time to make water! HA HA!), ate and headed out. It was dark for the first hour or so. By the time I reached my first night's campsite it was civil twilight and I could stash my headlamp. I crossed Surprise Valley quickly and started up the ramp to the Redwall. About this time, daylight broke across sections of the canyon and I was in and out of daylight. I had dreaded this climb up because it had taken such a toll on my legs coming down. But coming back up, it was much less difficult than I imagined. I mounted the Esplanade about an hour after starting up and had a commanding view of the morning on the inner canyon.

I crossed the Esplanade quickly, my legs still aching from climbing out of Tapeats Creek and then up the Redwall. Finally, I reached the part I really did not look forward to: the last push up. Coming down I had thought, you're really gonna hate this part later. True enough, I hated this part. It's not that I hate the effort or the exertion... it's being reduced to taking a hundred steps and then resting. That's humbling. On this last section, the trail makers seem to have decided that switchbacks were for chumps and ran the trail right up the freakin hill. Needless to say, it's steep. I zoned out for a long time on this bit, focusing on my breathing, my steps, and the fossils along the way. And when I woke up it was over and I was on top!

The route down the other side of the hill to the parking lot seemed endless. At my Jeep, a cooler full of cold La Croix was waiting. It was probably in the 30s at night the whole time I was gone, so those waters stayed cold, and I was grateful for it.

I changed clothes, back into cotton things that didn't reek of exertion. One very curious wasp taught me that wasps like the color blue... which is, like, EVERYTHING I'M WEARING. :o

Changed, hydrated, and safely away from wasps, I drove over to the Indian Hollow Trailhead, just to see what was there. Another nice trail, as it would turn out, and another great view of the Canyon. I then drove into Jacob Lake, stayed at the lodge, and enjoyed a hot meal and some wine.

Postscript: I have a history of buying hiking boots/shoes that feel great on short hikes and then cause wailing and gnashing of teeth on longer trips. I am now wearing a Keen Voyageurs as my main hiking shoes. On this trip, I developed my customary blisters on my big toes, but they caused me NO pain whatsoever! I attribute that to the Keen's wide toe-box.
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Oct 28 2016
joebartels
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 Guides 213
 Routes 824
 Photos 10,880
 Triplogs 4,281

49 male
 Joined Nov 20 1996
 Phoenix, AZ
Deer Creek - Tapeats - Thunder River Loop, AZ 
Deer Creek - Tapeats - Thunder River Loop, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Oct 28 2016
joebartels
Backpack26.00 Miles 7,660 AEG
Backpack26.00 Miles3 Days         
7,660 ft AEG32 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
FR22 to Bill Hall TH was in very good condition. Only two shallow pools across the entire road were of slight concern. Most could navigate a Yugo. I'd imagine it gets messy in the mud after rain. Currently it's 2wd for drivers with a clue.

After twenty two miles through a maze of forest the Bill Hall TH was almost full. We passed several one to two inch shallow pools in the pockets of the Esplanade.

Surprise Valley sage has a crisp scent that raises your head to fully inquire.

My first trip two years ago was a shock treatment of wow. This round I came back with a better understanding of the surrounding area. We crossed paths with several groups going both directions. One group camped in Surprise Valley then did the loop as a day hike. Only a couple of them even had day packs, oh the jealousy.

Russ brought his daughter Katie. With no recent hikes this journey started cursing her world 8 miles in on day 1. Despite blisters, shaky legs and regurgitating reflexes she defeated the odds! This was my second hike with Fan. Realized she is resilient and adaptable. Appreciate that she let us drive her car. Especially since she replaced the wind chimes on the mirror with a quiet stuffed pillow!

Despite trying to talk someone* out of eating at the crap hole inn we finally got our gasping dry burgers on stale ciabatta in a couple hours.

Big thanks to * for putting together this group hike, most appreciated!

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Deer Creek Heavy flow Heavy flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Deer Creek Falls Heavy flow Heavy flow

dry Deer Spring Dry Dry

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Tapeats Creek Heavy flow Heavy flow
crystal clear several feet deep even with the high turbulence

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Thunder River Heavy flow Heavy flow
bone dry, oh who are we kidding it was raging

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Thunder Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
amazing as always
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Oct 12 2016
friendofThunde
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 Guides 18
 Routes 280
 Photos 7,723
 Triplogs 716

37 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
Bill Hall TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Oct 12 2016
friendofThundergod
Backpack36.42 Miles 9,015 AEG
Backpack36.42 Miles3 Days         
9,015 ft AEG
 
This was the main reason for my week long trip to the north rim and it did not disappoint. This backpack had been on my mind for a few years now. My permit was for four days, however, I was ok with returning a day earlier, as I had already had a very eventful fall break.

Day one was a pretty standard hike down Bill Hall and the Deer Creek Trail. I really enjoyed the esplanade portion of the hike and think that this section of trail may get overlooked a little because of the attractions at the CO and along Thunder and Tapeats. However, I think its right up with them, in terms of scenery and beauty. Only two people at the Deer Creek site so that was nice. I was a little surprised at how rugged and steep the drop was into Deer Creek was, but I kind of enjoyed it and put it on par with other more rugged descents, such as Boucher. The narrows of Deer Creek were absolutely amazing and rival the attraction of the falls in my opinion. The only issue was the dozen or so rafters lounging around the narrows, makes for poor photos. It made me think, that the real threats to the canyon's treasures and solitude are not from the foot traffic on the rim, but the traffic coming up from the river. I kept chuckling to myself about how different the partying schlubs beached on the narrows and down by the falls were in comparison to the characters I was reading about in The Emerald Mile. I ended up being pretty beat, despite the modest day and was in bed not to long after the sunset.

On day two I took the traditional route back to Tapeats Creek and had my camp set up in the AV9 use area pretty early in the morning. I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Tapeats Creek and it was simply amazing on so many levels. I got back to camp reeling with some adrenaline from the awesome day, but it quickly wore off and I was in bed again very shortly after sunset. The moon kept it pretty well lit in my area for most of the night and the temps were nearly perfect, as I never even crawled into my bag. I made the wet hike back to the Thunder River Trail the next morning, stopped for some pictures of the waterfalls and took some long breaks on the way up to soak it all in. I had to walk a little over a mile to get back to my campsite, but there waiting for me safe and sound was Jackie and the pups, so all was well.

A tremendous area, a tremendous hike and maybe my most memorable trip in the canyon to date!
Geology
Geology
Cave popcorn
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6 archives
Aug 30 2016
Hippy
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 Guides 7
 Routes 3
 Photos 1,749
 Triplogs 609

33 female
 Joined Dec 02 2009
 Grand Canyon
Deer Creek - Thunder River Loop, AZ 
Deer Creek - Thunder River Loop, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Aug 30 2016
Hippy
Backpack29.50 Miles 8,700 AEG
Backpack29.50 Miles2 Days   4 Hrs      
8,700 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Limited days off leads to some epic hiking.

Friday night Jamie, myself and our North Rim buddy Kevin drove to Monument Point.

Spotted a GORGEOUS bobcat on FR206!

Camped.
It poured.

Our tent stake camp out in the toe of the tent. Our down bags and my new down puffy were soaked.
Oh well, onward!

We awoke with the sun...uhhh...the dim haze that may have been the sun that just barely shone through a.thick cloud cover and gentle misting rain...as I said....onward!!

Saturday morning we shimmied down from the Rim to the Esplanade, checked out some rock art then went on down in Surprise Valley. It really is a surprise isn't it! First time I'd seen it, SO pretty!

The break down into SV is a knee jammer but it went swiftly and smoothly for we three.

(On a side note, Cogswell Butte is now in my sights and we'll be tackling it and Bridger's Knoll on our next trip out there...anyone want in on this let me know? I'll get the permits!)

Quick break at the junction then hung a right down toward Deer Creek. Surprise Valley is quiet and quick walking!

The amount of Limestone in this break made me swoon, Limestone bites are the best! There's one section that requires what some might consider scrambling.
Jamie sent me over it first and described me as "dancing" across the rock. Sounds about right.
Awesome scree chute down to The Throne Room, be careful on that! Whoo!

Deer Creek Springs at the Throne Room was bone dry... :(
Last time I saw this was also my first, back in March 2015 from our private river trip and it was a gusher!
We'll be back on another river trip in December, wonder if it will be flowing then...

The Patio was covered in mud and Deer Creek itself was mud mud muddy!!
We set up in the campsite and had the place to ourselves all night. Saw a small private trip down at the falls, they went up as we came down, it was raining and slippery as all!! Watch your step!
The Creek was higher than last year and the Falls louder, we almost held our breath awaiting a flash!! Lucky us, no flash. He river runners left, we had dinner on the Patio and went to bed to a drizzling rain.

Next morning is day 2, Sunday, we will camp on the Esplanade tonight but first we have to complete the loop.
Up out of the Patio we rode the low route from DC to Tapeats Creek, it was warm but not stifling hot...strange for August thank goodness for clouds.

I played in the river, we watched dories sweep by, no beers, the 135mi Eddy is too hard to maneuver in and out of before the rifle.

Tapeats Creek was clear! We headed up he break, slip sliding and enjoying the views.

This one break up from Tapeats Creek is the reason I'm SO grateful Jamie suggested a counterclockwise loop! I would not enough going DOWN that break, it's doable and safe-ish, but with a loaded pack it'd be a *****!

I'd suggest counterclockwise to any new folk considering this loop.

Sea Turtle Falls in Tapeats Creek was shortly after our first crossing, the creek was flowing nicely, Jamie said it's slightly deeper than usual and evidence pointed to some "overflowing" of the banks in the past few days but again, we were lucky!

Up the Creek was quick, warm and easy moving! We crossed again below Thunder River and began the climb up, up, up it goes!

Every twist in the trail opened up new views, wow!
We spent an hour and a half at Thunder River way up top, and as tradition mandates we.filled direct from the source, no filtering needed, yummmmm! Best water ever!
Ate dinner here and dried our socks in the sun.

Up we went again into Surprise Valley where we stopped to check out The Blue Eyed Indian, then across the smooth, quick and silent Valley, the sun setting in our eyes as we head west.

Started up the Redwall break towed the Esplanade well before the sun said it's goodnights.

About a quarter mile from the top of the break we turned on our headlamps and visions of warm sleeping bags danced in our heads.

Jamie played with his camera and got some Gorgeous clear night sky shots, the milky way lit up our tent and my socks dried on the bushes nearby...

Monday morning, we sauntered out on stiff toes well after the sunrose, yesterday was a lot of UP even for a Canyon junkie haha
We were out before 11am and dilly-dallied at the trail head enjoying the views cloudless sky afforded us today!

All in all this was easier than anticipated.
I definitely suggest a counterclockwise loop because Thunder River draws you up up up and is a stellar place to kick back before that last push to surprise Valley.

Deer Creek is amazing but it wouldn't have the motivation for me as TR Did...also that break up Tapeats Creek would be a pain in the butt to down climb for new folk...i dunno why Backpacker magazine suggests a clockwise loop...anyone know why??
Counterclockwise just makes more sense!

Anyway...awesome weekend. Back to work...I'm serious about anyone wanting to tackle Bridger's Knoll and Cogswell Butte though...let me know, they look relatively "easy"... :lol:
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2 archives
Oct 26 2015
Barrett
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 Guides 14
 Routes 9
 Photos 1,311
 Triplogs 283

55 male
 Joined Dec 20 2002
 Phoenix, AZ
Deer Creek / Thunder River AZ, AZ 
Deer Creek / Thunder River AZ, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Oct 26 2015
Barrett
Backpack26.00 Miles 9,000 AEG
Backpack26.00 Miles4 Days         
9,000 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Day 1
Despite getting lost on the way to the trailhead by a Ranger supplied incorrect map, getting rained on at 1:30 am in the back of my pickup after a 4 day 0% chance forecast, and an aggravated nerve in my back from scar tissue sending flashes of pain through my shoulder and arm with each step, I made my way toward Monument Point in the dark with a smile on my face. The rain had stopped and the smells and sounds of the North Rim swirled around me, the Canyon to my left a beautiful abyss of silence, it's depth beyond the reach of my tiny headlamp. After 8 trips, my love for this place has only grown deeper. I hope someday to travel the world with my wife and see other amazing places, but I know now this will always be Home.
The down climb at the alcove wasn't bad - somewhat polished and slippery but big holds everywhere. I had planned on seeing the Esplanade in morning light, but unfortunately the overcast skies lent no color to the amazing sandstone. I kept an eye open for good camp sites for my return, and cached 3 x 32 oz. water bottles before I headed down the red wall. Surprise Valley was easy going, with the descent to Deer Spring punctuated with killer views and the wonderful arrival of the sound of falling water. I spent almost an hour and a half at the amazing Throne Room, enjoying the sound of Deer Spring as I had lunch, relaxed, and enjoyed all 12 thrones for good measure.
Heading down to Deer Creek I met 3 guys in their 20's from Kingman who had just passed Deer Spring without even stopping in (?). We would leapfrog for the rest of the day, with me moving faster but stopping often for pictures and video. The Patio arrived and did not disappoint my high expectations, the narrow ledges not as bad as I thought, and the down climb to Deer Creek Falls more work than I expected. After cooling off at the spectacular falls, I started back up, noticing the 3 guys trying to head east along the river. I asked them if they were trying to get to Lower Tapeats, and they said yes. After a short talk it was apparent how poorly prepared they were. No map, no information on the river route at all. I shared my info with them and we all hiked back up to the Patio for the River Route turnoff and headed toward camp as the inner canyon filled with shadow, and finally darkness. I reached Lower Tapeats at 6:20 pm, the 14 mile day taking it's toll, and I was in bed by 8.
Day 2
Woke up and met Frank, Kevin, and Mark while breaking camp. They were turning back on a loop attempt in the opposite direction. Frank was 71 and though quite the bad :pk: back in the day, he was really struggling. They informed me that Tapeats Creek was running high from all the rain, and the crossings impossible - requiring the far less desirable western route. I went up to the crossing just in case, but ended up opting for the west as well. Obnoxious. Huge up and downs with little forward travel, really steep, slippery off camber shale sections with lethal exposure. I was glad to reach Upper Tapeats Camp.
I had hoped to explore up the Creek, but with the high water I ended up spending the afternoon exploring the amphitheater above camp, as well as some serious housekeeping. The older trio arrived and hung out for a while. Fascinating group - ex-owner of an aerospace company, a CFO and a CEO, all involved in charities to help orphans from developing countries. One had a rescue farm with over 30 large animals, and another 3 adopted children from places including Kazakhstan.
Awesome to see rich people doing the Right Thing.
Humbling.
Day 3
Hit the trail and enjoyed early light on Thunder River. A perfect climax to the sound of water nonstop for the last 40 hours. What a place.
The relative quiet of Surprise Valley arrived, and then a trip up the red wall as the air warmed up. I picked up my water and was happy as a clam to find my 1st choice site not taken! Once again I had time to explore a bit - I have to say the views may not be as big on the 'Nade, but the terrain is awesome slickrock.
Had a great evening - my only decent sunset color, followed by a blast with camera and tripod, topped off with my only visible full moon rise for the trip!
Day 4
Up before dawn as usual, this time thanking my choice of campsite. The overhang provided shelter to break camp under the light rain that had begun. The trip up Bill Hall was really enjoyable - without any real wind I was able to use my GoLite umbrella. The gentle cadence of raindrops and footfall, the smell of evergreen and wet earth made for a perfect ending to the hike.

There are a few really good videos on YouTube of this hike. Solid camera work, informative maps and graphics, etc.
Mine isn't one of them. https://youtu.be/uq ... r2_c

Post Hike
Checked out Crazy Jug on the way out- very cool formations below and some good views of the canyon.
Checked into the North Rim Campground and took the Transept Trail to the Lodge. I had been here 40 years ago but don't remember much. Love the overlooks, Bright Angel Point kicks :pk: .
After a fizzle sunset, I invited some guys I met from the U.K., Colorado, and North Dakota over from their dark camps to my fire of dry wood I had brought up. Will was on Holiday with about 5K in camera gear, and Chris and Johnny were in AZ to see Tool in Phoenix. They had a bottle of Caduceus, and I some heavy Malbec, which paired perfectly with the cold wind and warm fire. The conversation flowed, with comparisons of Tool/A Perfect Circle/Puscifer mixed in with explanations of white balance settings. Sufficiently toasted, we wandered off to tents when the wood ran out and the rain began anew. The wind picked up as well, and by morning a layer of ice covered everything as we all met for a sunrise jaunt out to the Point. Once again, cloud cover kind of killed it, and we all decided to hit the road.
Snow covered the trees all the way to Jacob lake, and the drive back across the Vermillion Cliffs was gorgeous.
I don't know when I'll be back to the North Rim. It's a long drive -
but sometimes you have to drive a long way to get Home.
Geology
Geology
Tafoni

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Deer Creek Medium flow Medium flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Deer Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
30 gpm

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Thunder River Medium flow Medium flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Thunder Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
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The past, the present, and the future walked into a bar.
It was tense.
4 archives
Oct 22 2015
louie
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 Photos 20
 Triplogs 9

48 male
 Joined Jan 07 2004
 Phoenix, AZ
Tapeats CreekNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Oct 22 2015
louie
Backpack25.40 Miles 5,200 AEG
Backpack25.40 Miles4 Days         
5,200 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
A bit of a late trip log as we did this hike Oct. 22-25th, but still some worthwhile notes from the journey. It had rained the night before and there was water everywhere on the esplanade on the way down. When we returned three days later there were still enough shallow pools that were filterable. Daytime temps on the esplanade were in the low 70's during this time. Something to ponder if you ever do this hike after a rain and want to avoid caching water. I'm sure if it was warmer the pools would have dried up quicker.

There were four of us in our mid forties in decent enough shape and a patient 22 year old and it took us nine hours to get to upper tapeats. I continue to find the downhill more troublesome than the uphill. It's tough on the old joints! Hiking poles or staff are most helpful keeping balance and putting a little less stress on the body. I found some parts of the trail from thunder river falls to upper tapeats camp a bit unnerving. With the recent rains there was a one foot exposed section that had washed out and you had to stomp a foothold into the soft dirt to get through it. On the way back some brave soul had stomped out a more stable path and the dirt had hardened which made it less sketchy.

We stayed at the group site which is the first site you come to which was nice as there were rock benches and the stream was close by. However, we ventured up Tapeats creek beyond the confluence of Thunder River and there are nice secluded sites that involve one or two stream crossings that would have fit us and maybe more people that I would consider for future trips. Not sure what the rules are on that as these are not signed as designated sites, but it's clear people camp here.

We had big plans to do a loop day-hike down to the Colorado River and over to Deer Creek Falls, but we were just two beat from the hike down so day hiked to the Colorado River. Took the low route on the east side of the creek which involved a cairned stream crossing either just below or above the third site. And later another crossing back to the west side and then a high trail above the river with some occasional exposure that I again was not a fan of. This being from someone who has a fear of heights.

The next day before hiking out to the esplanade we hiked up Tapeats creek and made it to the fall. Pretty cool, but no real safe way to actually get under it. There are plenty of sites on the esplanade so if you ever get into a bind and think it would be too much coming up from deer creek or tapeats in a day then better to poach a site on the esplanade vs. a rescue out of the canyon.

Enjoy!
_____________________
Not all who wander are lost...
Oct 08 2015
dianeoutback
avatar

 Triplogs 1

78 female
 Joined Jan 04 2016
 Phoenix, AZ
Bill Hall TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Oct 08 2015
dianeoutback
Backpack
Backpack5 Days         
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Partners none no partners
By the end of the first day I had descended 5,000 feet, struggled with the weight of extra water to cache, been stung twice by a scorpion, and realized that I might be in over my head.

Six of us had set out from Monument Point on the Bill Hall Trail to Deer Creek about 9:30 in the morning in early October. I was the oldest hiker at 75 and the only female. My son, Cliff, was the youngest at 45. We had spent the previous night at Jacob Lake Inn. Their pleasant rooms and restaurant made it a good jumping off point for our hike.

It took more time than we anticipated to cover the 9.5 miles to camp. We did not take long breaks, but I think I was the one who held us up. I am small and had trouble with the huge steps down. I believe short hikers are at a disadvantage on this entire loop. Where others are able to take long strides up and down the large rocks, short people have to climb up and down.

What surprised me about Surprise Valley was that the Red Wall break leading into the valley was fairly gentle - for the Red Wall. It was the large, broken blocks of the Muav Limestone and Bright Angel Shale formations on the descent into camp at Deer Creek that I found challenging. Surprise Canyon is nothing more than landslide rubble. The landslide occurred in the geologic past, but it looks as though it could have happened yesterday. My friends were patient with me, but dusk was falling before we reached camp.

The scorpion was in my tent. It was never found, which gave me something to think about over the four nights of the trip. My arm and finger throbbed during that first night, but I was so fatigued I was able to get enough sleep and was pleased I didn't experience more serious toxicity.

On day two we dropped our packs at the "patio" on the way to Deer Creek Falls on the Colorado River. We realized the temperatures were far warmer than had been predicted. The falls are impressive, but with at least 12 rafting groups gathered there, congenial though they all were, it wasn't much of a wilderness destination. I regretted that I had not waited for my group at the patio area where Deer Creek has carved lovely terraces in the Tapeats Sandstone.

Our traverse along the Colorado River to the camp at Lower Tapeats, via the "high route," was in full sun at 95 degrees; another long, hot day. The best part of this section are the fabulous river views. There is a steep descent towards the end of this traverse that looks worse than it actually is. The Colorado was carrying a lot of silt and was running chocolate brown - very dramatic.

As we set up camp at Lower Tapeats we spotted three bark scorpions, including one that ran across my knee as I knelt setting up the tent. I didn't need any more scorpion drama.

It is more fun to write about tribulations, but none of us, for even a moment, failed to enjoy and appreciate the beauty and glory of this hike. Being so immersed in the Grand Canyon is an indescribable joy. One member of our group, Nyal, is an Arizona geologist and was able to give us detailed and enthusiastic information on every aspect of Canyon geology.

And speaking of joy, the hike up Tapeats Creek on day three was a delight. It was still too hot and the climb too steep, but we enjoyed it. I was the only one who found the two crossings of Tapeats Creek any problem. Cliff, who had already taken my pack across the creek, rushed back to help when he realized I might be swept down. Again, being short was a disadvantage.

We enjoyed the spacious, shady campsites of the Upper Tapeats camp. Cliff had carried in fly fishing gear and was in fisherman's heaven in Tapeats Creek. He is a catch-and-release guy and that is what he did.

We noticed that Nate, ordinarily the strongest hiker, was lying down after we got into camp. He didn't say much, but we all realized he wasn't feeling well. By the next morning he had a high fever, rapid pulse and respiration, swollen lymph nodes in his neck, and was faint and light-headed. Damn.

We all hiked slowly that forth day between Upper Tapeats and the Esplanade, with Cliff pacing Nate who slept (passed out?) on our short breaks and for a bit longer at lunch. We were so concerned about getting Nate out that we did not linger at Thunder River Falls or give it our full attention. The falls are quite photogenic, however, and the photos we quickly snapped are dramatic. We topped off our water there and headed for the Esplanade. By mid-afternoon, when most of the others had gone ahead to find our water cache, I realized that Nate was swaying and about to go down. He recognized he had little choice and allowed me to take his pack. His brother Nyal carried his own pack and my lighter one and I carried Nate's. I had gotten my canyon legs under me by this time and was hiking easily.

Friends can be a mixed blessing; in camp, the others happily commented on Nate letting me carry his pack. Part of the fun was that Nate is usually the strongest, and most confident, hiker.

Our camp on the Esplanade was my favorite. I have always liked the Esplanade with its weird hoodoos. The eroded sandstone forms convenient benches and tables. We filtered water from potholes that remained from a rain about 8 days prior. We would have had adequate water anyway, but it was a luxury to have abundant water.

Perhaps it was the cooler temperatures of the Esplanade, but we were all ravenous that evening. We were also anxious to consume everything to avoid carrying it out. We shared most of our remaining meals. When someone would ask, "What about the stroganoff (or whatever), should we cook it?" we would all reply, "Sure, might as well."
We slept without tents that night. The stars were incredible and I stayed awake as long as I could to enjoy the Milky Way. It isn't only the beauty of the canyon that takes your breath away on this hike.

Nate was stoically silent the next morning as we divided up the contents of his pack four ways. I was the only one who did not share the load. We gave him his empty pack to carry and he and Rich headed out.

I had cached an additional liter of water near the base of the Coconino. When I went slightly off-trail to retrieve it I found a 4-foot, pink Grand Canyon rattlesnake was moving slowly about 18 inches from my foot. It was not coiled at that time so I didn't feel threatened, but it unnerves me to have a close encounter. I waited for John, Cliff, and Nyal to join me so they could see Pinkie. The snake never did rattle. Cliff informed us that this pink snake is found only at the Grand Canyon (and perhaps in Utah) and is pretty laid-back for a rattlesnake.

A few yards further up the trail we met a ranger coming down. As he checked our permit he reported that Nate was ill, but still climbing and was confident he would make it up through the Coconino and Toroweap. The ranger told us we were fortunate to see the pink rattlesnake as they are fairly common, but rarely spotted. He was going to look for it when he left us.

I was slow going up the Coconino, but we caught up with Rich and Nate before we topped out. The approximately half mile of trail along the rim, that was so short on the way in, seemed to go on and on and on. Thanks to Cliff's fancy, new cooler we had cold beers, sodas, and water waiting for us at the trailhead.

I would like to blame much of my difficulties on my small size, but Rich, who is not a great deal bigger than I am, and also in his 70s, had no problems at all. He is from Salt Lake City and was able to hike all summer. We Phoenix folks had a nasty summer and it was difficult to get in shape with the awful heat. Cliff trained hard anyway, but the rest of us, while in good shape, were not in top shape.

I find I am already forgetting the toil and remembering only the beauty. Don't forgo this hike because of your age or your size; do all the research, lighten your pack as much as possible, and get in the best shape you possibly can. If I had been in better condition I would have enjoyed the hike more and struggled less. Even without the heat, this is not a hike to take lightly.
_____________________
Oct 25 2014
joebartels
avatar

 Guides 213
 Routes 824
 Photos 10,880
 Triplogs 4,281

49 male
 Joined Nov 20 1996
 Phoenix, AZ
Bill Hall - Deer Crk - Thunder River - Tapeats, AZ 
Bill Hall - Deer Crk - Thunder River - Tapeats, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Oct 25 2014
joebartels
Backpack31.00 Miles 9,200 AEG
Backpack31.00 Miles3 Days         
9,200 ft AEG28 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
All Aboard!
Dave planned this many moons in advance as required by the asset protection committee. Wally took the liberty to escort us to the land of opportunity. John joined and I knew it would be a fun group all around even if the hike sucked.

Prep
Studied up on the route for well over three minutes and invested an hour packing. Since this was to be a leisure pace I loaded up on food. The mind boggling part being that I ate 98.21% of all of it. Over two POUNDS of dehydrated food. A pound of brownies. No fruit or veggies for two and half days solid. Enough salt to cure a small pig rounded out with three tums courtesy of the bicycle bandido... anti cramp solution not heartburn.

Bill Hall
This sick hike takes you up before heading down into Grand Canyon. The distant canyon views to the west are stunning. Not the normal corridor temples and quick dropping ridges. Rather a sea of never ending inset canyons. The zipper switchbacks deliver you to the Esplanade sandstone with it's patches of cryptobiotic soil.

Deer Creek
The landscape of the canyon approaching Deer Spring is inspiring. The patio, narrows and falls are a must see. Albeit touristy...

Deer Camp
Only got down to 57 overnight. A bivvy would have sufficed. This was my favorite camp layout. No rodent or bug issues. Slept almost twice as much as a typical night.

Party Lights
For what seems like eternity my eyes would roll with the mention of these exotic priced Christmas lights. Seeing is believing. They cast a warm glow around camp. It wouldn't be the same without. Just beware you might crave camomile and conversations about sewing patterns.

Deer Creek to Tapeats Creek Trail
While not an official trail it is one hell of a walk. The west end perched over the Colorado River is therapy in the morning light.

Thunder River Trail
Na na na na na na na na THUNDER! From 2,000 feet you climb a steep 300 feet then level back into the creek. The raging creek is just awesome in areas with a few small falls or mammoth cascades depending on where you grew up. We took the park recommended east route. The west looked well worn.

Tapeats Creek
The two and half off-trail miles to the cave melted away nearly effortlessly. jlp ood and awed the whole way. I couldn't agree more. My favorite was the tall haphazard falls turning up Tap-its. The grand poobah without a doubt.

Tapeats Upper Camp
Another warmer than imaginable night for late October. Camp mice were on the prowl. I didn't give it a whole lot of thought until one crawled up my back. Shook him off with a heebie jeebie move before he had a chance to summit my shoulder. His intentions to run over my arm out to the food in my hand never panned out.

Needless to say, this was not my favorite camp...lol No biggie, just comical. Unpacking a day later I found out one invaded my pack too. It was up in a tree. Which I didn't figure would do much good. The food in my thin canister on the ground was fine.

Thunder Falls
My expectations were high. Thunder delivered. Dave and I wanted to check out the cave. Around the initial corner I wasn't sure where to go. Then I contemplated about the water. Getting my feet wet shot lightning fast nightmares of slipping. Dave's stories of a guy that ripped his leg open in the cave were not helping. My four pound camera was cumbersome and and and... no dice, changed my vote to pro-life and got back around the corner onto solid ground!

Bill Hall Round 2
Great trip and I was ready to leave. Descending on day 1, whatever muscle is on the back of the leg at the outer joint was screaming ouie. Playing pack mule isn't my preferred cast role. Most of the treturous descending was on day 1. jlp was an angel lending me his hiking pole. That coupled with steady ibuprofen therapy got me through the days.

We stopped at Jacob Lake for burgers on the way out.

Even though I was Dave's twelfth round pick after twenty four of his closest friends bailed I'm most grateful I got the opportunity to go on this trip! Thanks much!
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Moderate
Thunder near the falls within a week of prime. Down lower through Tapeats is all over the board. Probably something hitting for the next couple weeks based on micro environments.

dry Bonita Creek Dry Dry

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Deer Creek Falls Heavy flow Heavy flow
holding well

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Deer Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
tiny oasis

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Tapeats Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
We searched. Water gushing like Horton but from every nook and cranny. Heading down it picks up volume quick. Probably the entire side of the mountain indiscreetly pouring out.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Thunder Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
Just enough to filter for a small town.
_____________________
Hike Arizona it ROCKS!
Oct 25 2014
johnlp
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 Guides 1
 Routes 9
 Photos 4,169
 Triplogs 3,234

62 male
 Joined Mar 16 2008
 chandler,az
Bill Hall - Deer Crk - Thunder River - Tapeats, AZ 
Bill Hall - Deer Crk - Thunder River - Tapeats, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Oct 25 2014
johnlp
Backpack31.00 Miles 9,200 AEG
Backpack31.00 Miles3 Days         
9,200 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
I have been hearing stories from Denny about this hike for quite a while now. Unfortunately the Turtle couldn't join us due to injury. Pictures can't do justice to many of the sights along the way. Seeing is believing. :)

Wally picked me up at 3 AM, then Dave and Joe, and we were on our way to the north rim and adventure in the Grand Canyon. We saw two large groups of turkeys, as well as deer, on the forest roads leading to the trailhead.

Expansive views dominate the Bill Hall trail in contrast to the limited views of the North Kaibab. Very nice to see some new country for me. The steep downhill to Deer Creek with a pack on is tough on the joints, but we all survived it in good spirits.

All the main attractions delivered on this hike. Deer Spring, The Patio, Deer Creek Falls, Tapeats Creek and Cave, Thunder River... Everything in between is pretty cool too.

Thanks to Dave for setting this one up and inviting me, even after I turned him down last year, and thanks to Wally for driving. Thanks Joe for all the nonsense that flows nonstop out of your pie hole. Many laughs. Great group, great trip. :y:
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Moderate
_____________________
“Good people drink good beer.” Hunter S Thompson
Oct 16 2014
Tough_Boots
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 Routes 67
 Photos 2,708
 Triplogs 755

40 male
 Joined Mar 28 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Deer Creek / Thunder River, AZ 
Deer Creek / Thunder River, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Oct 16 2014
Tough_Boots
Backpack32.50 Miles 9,741 AEG
Backpack32.50 Miles4 Days         
9,741 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
You really can't beat this trip.

Day One: Woke up at our campsite on the north rim and prepared for our descent. We drove to the trailhead and headed down. We mostly split up and met for long breaks on the Esplanade and Deer Creek Spring. We made it to our campsite at Deer Creek, set up camp, and then headed through the narrows and down to the falls.

Day Two: We broke camp and headed to Tapeats along the Colorado River. Smoke had drifted into the area from what we assumed were some controlled burns on the rim. This stretch of trail is pretty rugged with lots of ups and downs. We made it to Tapeats Creek and then headed up creek to our camp at Upper Tapeats. We had a beautiful and roomy spot for two nights. We set up camp and then headed up to check out Thunder River spring.

Day Three: I was not as adventurous as some and passed up a trip to Tapeats cave. As sore as my muscles were and the prospect of possibly hiking out the next day with damp shoes was, I opted to hike back down to the river and check out the boat beach a little upstream. Chumley showed me a route he found on satellite view. I attempted it but it was a bust. It disappeared pretty quick and I ended up a couple hundred feet up surrounded by nothing but skree. I came back down and took the route along the river. I met a few rafters and had a pretty nice day.

Day Four: Hiked out of that ditch. It was long. It was steep. It was awesome.


Thanks to Chumley for organizing this. Its probably the prettiest route I've done in the canyon so far.
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"there is no love where there is no bramble."
--bill callahan
1 archive
Oct 16 2014
chumley
avatar

 Guides 75
 Routes 667
 Photos 13,238
 Triplogs 1,423

46 male
 Joined Sep 18 2002
 Tempe, AZ
Deer Creek / Thunder River, AZ 
Deer Creek / Thunder River, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Oct 16 2014
chumley
Backpack29.87 Miles 9,044 AEG
Backpack29.87 Miles4 Days         
9,044 ft AEG
 
1st trip
An awesome 4-day backpack loop starting with Deer Creek. Hit the Deer Spring on the way down. Did the narrows to the falls both Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.

We took the high route on the traverse across to Lower Tapeats before heading up to Upper Tapeats. Friday afternoon we headed up to check out Thunder River. As I sort of expected, I wasn't able to convince myself to risk the final climb to the cave. Karl tried after me and came to the same conclusion. I'm pretty sure if I watched somebody else do it first it would be no problem. But we had no such guide so that will have to wait for another day.

Saturday was our excursion to Tapeats Cave and Sunday we hiked out early in the day.

In the downtime, we harassed canyon mice and made sure that the liquid weight we had carried in wouldn't slow us down on the way out.

I'm not sure what part of this loop I liked the most. Deer Creek Narrows are special. The falls are incredible. Tapeats Creek is a force to be reckoned with, and the cave is amazing. Thunder River is a wonder. And as always, the massive views the canyon provides can't be beat.

It was a great trip with an awesome group of people! We'll have to do it again! :)

Jon and Patrick posted a video of the trip on their WildernessTV page: It's highly entertaining! http://vimeo.com/111694462
Fauna
Fauna
Deer Mouse
Meteorology
Meteorology
Sunset
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Isolated

dry Bonita Creek Dry Dry

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Deer Creek Medium flow Medium flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Deer Creek Falls Medium flow Medium flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Deer Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Tapeats Creek Medium flow Medium flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Tapeats Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Thunder River Medium flow Medium flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Thunder Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
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Profound observer
2 archives
Oct 16 2014
BiFrost
avatar

 Guides 4
 Routes 338
 Photos 6,903
 Triplogs 803

49 male
 Joined Nov 20 2012
 Phoenix, AZ
Deer Creek / Thunder River, AZ 
Deer Creek / Thunder River, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Oct 16 2014
BiFrost
Backpack28.57 Miles 8,413 AEG
Backpack28.57 Miles4 Days         
8,413 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners partners
chumley
John9L
Jonnybackpack
Tough_Boots
Chumley offered up this GC gem that I couldn't refuse and we were off to Deer Creek-Thunder River. We did the loop from Bill Hall TH and once at Surprise Valley headed down towards Deer Creek area. First we hit Deer Spring for much needed break as the afternoon heat was starting to take it's toll. Then on to camp at Deer Creek and had enough time to check out the Deer Creek Narrows and falls in the afternoon. Awesome area to spend an afternoon before returning to camp.

Day 2 some went back to Deer Creek for another look while the rest enjoyed the patio narrows before taking the route over to Tapeats Creek. The route climbs out of Deer Creek traversing above the Colorado before it eventually drops down. It follows the Colorado for a bit before reaching Tapeats Creek. Short break there and we continued steeply above Tapeats on a bypass for the first mile above the creek. Eventually reached our camp for 2 nights at Upper Tapeats early enough for some of the group to hit Thunder River area before night fall. Another great destination to spend a few hours!

Day 3 was sort of a off day with the group heading to various destinations....Tapeats Cave, Colorado, and Thunder River. After another relaxing day in the canyon we spent another night in the same location before making an early exit out of camp for the rim. Tough hike out from 2400 to 7200 feet but awesome views as always which even included sweet sunrise on Thunder River falls.

Thanks Chumley for putting this trip together :D
Fauna
Fauna
Deer Mouse
Culture
Culture
Cag Shot Campsite
Named place
Named place
Tapeats Creek
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Isolated
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2 archives
Oct 16 2014
John9L
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 170
 Photos 4,848
 Triplogs 1,619

male
 Joined Mar 12 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
Deer Creek / Thunder River, AZ 
Deer Creek / Thunder River, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Oct 16 2014
John9L
Backpack29.50 Miles 8,700 AEG
Backpack29.50 Miles4 Days         
8,700 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Earlier this summer I talked to Chumley about the fall and we wanted to do a couple of hikes on the North Rim of my beloved Canyon. I would plan North Bass and he would plan Thunder River / Tapeats Creek. We scored the permits and the time flew by.

We left Phoenix on Wednesday morning in two cars (thanks Chumley & Karl for driving!) and made our way to the north rim. The drive to the trailhead took about six hours and that includes a couple of stops. The dirt roads leading to Monument Point are in very good condition and made for fast travel. We covered 33 miles in under an hour. We found a camp about a half mile from the trailhead and car camped overlooking the Canyon. Life is good!


Day 1 – October 16, 2014
We packed up our gear and drove over to Monument Point and started the hike down the Bill Hall Trail. You start by climbing a couple of hundred feet to the high point and then you start the descent. The going is a little rough at first and then the trail levels off as you traverse to the west. After a bit you start the steep descent to the Esplanade. From there we made good time as we headed for the Redwall Break. Along the way we stopped to look for some water pockets. We found one of them but it was muddy and not reliable.

We continued on and hit the break soon after. The view down into Surprise Valley is stunning! This was the scene of an ancient land slide four million years ago. There are three large chunks of Redwall that slid down and appear as large mounds. Our route leads past the west mound. We continued hiking and headed west for Deer Creek. The going is fairly easy and then you start to descend. Our group got spread out but met back up at Deer Spring. This is an amazing area with water pouring directly out of the rock wall. I drank several handfuls of untreated water and it was delicious!

After the spring we made our way to camp and got everything set up. We then headed down to the Deer Creek Narrows and explored the area all the way down to the Colorado River. This is an exceptional area that is truly beautiful! Deer Creek has cut a channel in the Tapeats layer and Deer Creek Falls pours out just a matter of feet from the Colorado. We all returned to camp and settled in for the night. This was a fun day!

Day 2 – October 17, 2014
Our group woke early and noticed the smoke in the air. We guessed the smoke drifted into the Canyon from a controlled burn on the north rim. Our views will be compromised. Chumley, JonnyB & Patrick left camp first so they could explore the narrows again. The rest of us took our time and enjoyed breakfast. We all met at The Patio around 10am and then started the hike to Tapeats Creek. There is an established route all the way. The going was straightforward with amazing views! We stayed on the high route and eventually dropped down to the river. There is a fun scramble about a half mile from Tapeats Creek. Going down would be more difficult.

We eventually hit Tapeats Creek and then started the hike up to the shelf above the creek. From there we made our way north and reconnected to the creek. We continued on and had to make two creek crossings and there were a couple of relatively easy scrambles to shelves above the creek. Before long we reached camp and settled in for the afternoon. Later that day we made the hike up to Thunder River and what a sight it is! Water gushes right out of the rock wall. It was spectacular! Chumley and Karl tried to climb to the top of falls but there is a three foot gap that has zero margin for error. They turned back. I would need to be roped up to cross the gap. Afterward we all returned to camp and that ended day two.

Day 3 – October 18, 2014
This is our layover day. We don’t have to move camp and we have a few options. We could either relax in camp, head back to the Colorado River or head up creek to Tapeats Cave. I chose to go with Chumley and Karl to Tapeats Cave and I’m glad I did! The route was challenging and the scenery spectacular. The cave was very cool. You can see my separate trip report for Tapeats Cave. http://hikearizona.com/photoset=32502

Day 4 – October 19, 2014
On our final day in the Canyon, we had to make the 9.5 mile hike back to the rim. Jon & Patrick left camp first around 5:30am. Kyle and Karl left after 6am and Chumley and I headed out around 6:40am. All of us took our time on the hike out. We topped off our water at Thunder River and then continued on to Surprise Valley where the sun finally greeted us. It is a spectacular day! The miles poured by as we hiked back up to the Esplanade and then on to Monument Point. All of us were back to the trailhead well before noon. Our trip has come to an end and what a trip it was!


Thunder River and Deer Creek are an exceptional area that might be my favorite place in the Canyon! There is a huge amount of water flowing through here and it’s a very lush area. I highly recommend spending a few days down here. There is a lot to see and do. You won’t be disappointed!
Culture
Culture
Campsite
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Isolated
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1 archive
Sep 24 2014
hikeaz
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 Guides 5
 Photos 341
 Triplogs 214

63 male
 Joined May 13 2002
 Tempe, AZ
Bill Hall TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Sep 24 2014
hikeaz
Backpack2.55 Miles 1,790 AEG
Backpack2.55 Miles3 Days         
1,790 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Wonderful 'traditional' Deer Creek Loop - Bill Hall to Surprise Valley, east past Thunder River Falls to Upper Tapeats camp. Down the creek-left trail to Lower Tapeats and over to Deer Creek camp. Then up and out of Deer Creek, across Surprise Valley and back up to the Bill Hall T/H. But for the last 30 minutes (rain, thunder, lightning & hail) the weather was perfect.
Esplanade potholes were full in places, some not; regardless, do not count on them.
Traditionally travelled forest roads into Bill Hall are in awesome shape with beautiful autumn foliage.
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Moderate
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kurt
1 archive
Apr 21 2014
AZWanderingBea
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 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Thunder River TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 21 2014
AZWanderingBear
Hiking10.50 Miles 3,500 AEG
Hiking10.50 Miles
3,500 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
This was the hike I was most looking forward to. Kelly was going to lead us up Tapeats Creek to Thunder River, they across Surprise Valley into Deer Creek at the Throne Room and then down Deer back to the River at Deer Creek Falls. JP and Scott would baby sit the rest of the group and move the boats down later in the day.

Kelly led out nice and early with four of the Phoenix Five and the youngest of the Lower Six. The trail is good, but it is just up and up and up at the start, but soon we had great views of Tapeats below us and then the trail merged with the Creek. Tapeats Creek is fast water, a true mountain stream. It was beautiful but I knew Thunder would be even more spectacular, though we still had some climbing to get there. Everyone was in great spirits. My chest cold was in full bloom and I figured to be operating on about 70% lung capacity, but nothing was going to stop me from completing this hike. MJ was strolling, her pre-trip training really showing.

Finally the trail merged with Thunder River and we began the steep climb to its source. Rounding a bend in the trail there it was – a river emerging from a hole in the Redwall Limestone. A huge underground aquifer feeds Thunder River, water gushing out of a sheer rock wall hundreds of feet high and then tumbling down waterfall after waterfall. We were mesmerized. Each turn in the trail up gave us another and even more spectacular view. Kelly led us higher and higher to the first fall just below the source. White water rushed by in a tumultuous near vertical fall while rivulets streamed along the moss and lichen covered rocks along the side.

We were tired and both Mary Jo and I had gone through our 3 liters of water each. We let the small rivulets give us a cooling shower and then filled our water bottles from Thunder River – Thunder Water!!! It tasted like heaven. We snacked and drank and rested for the final push up to Surprise Valley. The setting was as magical as I had imagined and more. Refreshed and replenished we reluctantly left and began the short steep climb to the apex of the hike.

Surprise Valley is a large and wide relatively flat area. Trails from the North Rim descend into the Valley and allow hikers to descend Tapeats or Deer all the way to the River. We ran into a few backpackers doing just that. The day had heated up and we began the hot dry hump across Surprise. Kelly surprised us with a full-head raven mask she hoped to use to tease JP. He has a thing for ravens apparently. She helped a few of the group out with water they sort of didn’t want to carry up the final climb. That girl can carry some weight. I was impressed to say the least.

JP showed up just before we began the descent from Surprise Valley down into the Deer Creek drainage. He casually tossed me a cold beer, well, cool anyway. He’d humped one up for me, another for MJ and one for himself. Sometimes there is payback for helping out around camp and on the boats. It tasted great.

We slowly picked our way down the steep and loose rock descent to the Throne Room, so named for the huge rock chairs hikers have built. MJ and I went slow. She is cautious on descents and I was really feeling the effects of my decreased lung capacity. There is a spring and waterfall at the Throne Room. Was nice to get cooled off again and refill our water bottles once more. I think I had gone through about 9 liters by that point in the hike. We hung with some other hikers there, an interesting eclectic group. Was nice to have comfortable places to sit while we all shared introductions and stories. I wasn’t talking much since the cold was stealing my voice.

After a good rest we set off down Deer Creek towards the boats. There is a composting toilet along the trail and it was a welcome site. Deer Creek becomes more and more of a slot canyon as it descends. We worked our way along the upper ledges with some exposure. There are ancient hand prints on the rock here. A hand silhouette seems to be a common occurrence among ancient cultures worldwide. I guess mankind has always wanted to leave a personal mark on his/her world. Some concepts transcend time and place. We are all human.

The Patio above Deer Creek Falls gave us a great view of the River and our boats tied below. JP had mentioned there was a pilot waiting to meet me down by the boats. He was a retired USAF fighter pilot like me and had a few years ago retired from the airline I now fly for. We didn’t know each other but had many friends in common. He was on a 3-week rowing trip. I fought through the laryngitis to try to talk to him. It is a very small world.

This was my favorite hike of the 12-day trip. I’ve had a Reavis apple and now I’ve drunk Thunder water. The world is a great place if you go and find it.
Named place
Named place
Surprise Valley Throne Room
_____________________
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
Nov 02 2013
The_Eagle
avatar

 Guides 5
 Routes 792
 Photos 9,159
 Triplogs 1,080

63 male
 Joined Jan 20 2009
 Far NE Phoenix,
Deer Creek/Thunder River Loop, AZ 
Deer Creek/Thunder River Loop, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Nov 02 2013
The_Eagle
Backpack25.43 Miles 8,229 AEG
Backpack25.43 Miles2 Days         
8,229 ft AEG37 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
WOW!
This one has been on my list for awhile now.

Quite a hike for only my second real backpack trip...

Dave put together one heck of a trip. Timing on the weather could not have been any better with highs in the 60's and lows in the mid 40's at night. Perfect for my best sleep ever on a hike.

For me, this would be an impossible Day hike. It was brutal in two days for me. My hats off to todak for day hiking this killer loop.

Up at 2am, left North Phoenix at 3 am, stopped in Jacob Lake for some eats (27 degrees) and were at the Monument Point TH, 350 miles later, and on the trail at 10 am at a comfortable 47 degrees.

Pretty awesome looking over the edge and trying to follow the route you'd be taking over the next few days.

A slight climb for 3/4 of a mile before the Bill Hall Trail drops 1700' for the next almost two miles before meeting the Thunder River Trail. At this point you are on the Esplanade of the Supai Layer (You are in Sedona Toto). Mushroom and other unusual rock formations abound. This grade is a nice relief from the loose downhill we just finished and lasts for 3 miles or so.

Now it's time to make your next drop. More uneven steepness that test the muscles you don't normally use.... and then you are in Surprise Valley. We take a lunch break under the only bush big enough to provide any shade.

We start the drop into Deer Creek next. Part way down you start to hear water. Then you come to the top of the Cliff area that Deer Spring is located. Dave hangs precariously off the edge of the Cliff to attempt to get a glimpse. No Luck. When we get below the spring, is actually tucked under a lip in the wall and squirting out nicely. Preston splashes around like a baby bird in the pool.

Deer Creek is a wonderland. Creek, Water, and lush riparian areas quickly change into narrow slot canyon walls. This leads right out to a spot 200' above the Colorado River and Deer Creek Falls. I took a break while the boys went down to check it out.

We started the trek over to our Campsite. We were able to get the majority of our remaining elevation gain for the day done, to the Deer Creek Saddle, just prior to the sun going down. We started the 3+ mile walk in the dark to Tapeats Creek camp. Dave busted out the cairn finder and got us safely across to our camp at the confluence of the Colorado and Tapeats Creek. :y: 8pm at camp

Day 1
13.73 Miles
1,767 AEG
09:25 Time

Day One Video :next: http://youtu.be/clUT1sLeQjA


The Second day started right off the bat on the Thunder River Trail with a 300' climb in less than .15 miles. Tapeats Creek was running nicely and the views were eye opening. Sure glad we did not miss this. The confluence with Thunder River was a bit less than 2.5 miles. We had to cross the creek twice the route we took, but there were options on both sides of the creek in places.

From Tapeats Creek to get to Thunder Spring is a bit of a climb. A little more than 3/4 mile and you are at the Spring. What a site!
Thunder River Spring emerges from the desert cliffs as a spectacular set of waterfalls that cascade 1/2 mile down a steep side canyon to Tapeats Creek.
Thunder River's estimated discharge of 21 million gallons per day (over 240 gallons/second) ranks number 2 for springs on the north side of the Grand Canyon behind Tapeats Spring. Tapeats Spring gushes forth with 48 million gallons per day.

We cooled off and filled our water for the last time. DAve and Preston attempted to get into the spring outlet. No luck this time. The climb out of Thunder Spring was a tease for what was to come.

Across Surprise Valley to our first cache at the Deer Creek/Thunder River intersection, and we had some lunch. Our new friend Gerhart stopped and chatted. He's in from Germany on vacation and this is his 20th straight year in the Canyon. He is 60 years young and was doing the same loop as us, in the same two days.

The first climb up to the Esplanade was as steep as feared. The walk across was once again a nice respite from the steepness. One last climb and we finished just before dark.

Day 2
11.71 Miles
6,455 AEG
09:50 Time

Day Two Video :next: http://youtu.be/OoyBs12CT8A

The BEST! Bacon Cheese Burger ever at Jacobs Lake after the hike. (Dave ordered two meals)

A big thanks to the boys! :y: I provided the truck and Dave, Denny and Preston took care of most of the the Driving and Petrol. (I think they felt guilty that I had to work on 3 hours sleep, and they all had Monday off!)
Fauna
Fauna
Bighorn Sheep
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Light
Some of the trees were beginning to turn

dry Bonita Creek Dry Dry
Saw no water when we crossed - but it was dark

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Deer Creek Heavy flow Heavy flow
Flowing Strong and Clear

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Deer Creek Falls Heavy flow Heavy flow
Flowing strong and Clear

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Deer Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
Strong Flow from the Wall! Increadible

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Tapeats Creek Heavy flow Heavy flow
Lots of clean clear water

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Thunder River Heavy flow Heavy flow
Plenty of cool clean water

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Thunder Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
Thunder River Spring emerges from the desert cliffs as a spectacular set of waterfalls that cascade 1/2 mile down a steep side canyon to Tapeats Creek.
Thunder River's estimated discharge of 21 million gallons per day (over 240 gallons/second) ranks number 2 for springs on the north side of the Grand Canyon behind Tapeats Spring.
_____________________
There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."
Dave Barry
Nov 02 2013
Tortoise_Hiker
avatar

 Routes 78
 Photos 7,201
 Triplogs 2,562

58 male
 Joined Apr 02 2005
 Mesa, AZ
Deer Creek/Thunder River Loop, AZ 
Deer Creek/Thunder River Loop, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Nov 02 2013
Tortoise_Hiker
Backpack25.43 Miles 8,229 AEG
Backpack25.43 Miles2 Days         
8,229 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
What a great trip. On the drive up we stopped at Jacobs Lake for a snack then saw one "sleeping deer", one Fox, and eleven Turkeys before getting to the trailhead. we hit the trail about 10:00am with Dave leading the way. Wasn't very long before the great views started and we were passed by a man named Gerhart from Germany. We would see him a few more times before our trip was over. There is so much to see from this loop that it is for sure one of my top hikes. The first day we saw the grand views from up top and the red rock and all the cool rock formations on the Esplanade. From there it was Surprise Valley more views and lunch. Next it was Deer Spring, Deer Creek, Deer Creek Narrows, and Deer Creek Falls. There were some good views of the Colorado and I believe the Granite Narrows upstream a little ways. From there Dave pointed out one sheep as we headed towards Tapeats Creek. We wound up hiking in the dark a couple hours as Dave proved to be a pretty good leader in the dark too. We wound up in camp around 8:00pm at the confluence of Tapeats Creek and the Colorado River. We set up our tents and cooked up some Mountain House. Dave surprised us with a cold beverage he brought for each of us. :thanx: I checked out the stars and shot the bull for a few then I was out. :zzz: I think everyone slept pretty good and we were on our way up Tapeats Creek by 8:00am. The creek was pretty cool and cool when we crossed it too. Preston let us use his Poles the couple times we crossed and it worked pretty well. From there it was up along Thunder River to right below the spring. Very cool section. A nice break here and we were on our way. Us two old guys left first so we didn't slow things down to much and we all met at the junction in Surprise Valley for lunch. We had a cache there and on the Esplanade which worked out good. With a break here and there it went pretty good climbing out. We even saw a Bighorn Sheep checking us out from the top. We finished a little before dark as did Gerhart. From there it was on to Jacobs Lake for a bacon cheeseburger and diet Pepsi. MmMm! A big thanks to Dave for planning such a great trip, Bruce for using his car, and Preston for being the nicest Hazer. You guy's made the trip even better and you even cracked me up from time to time :o :lol: . Good times and a trip I won't soon forget. :D :y:
Fauna
Fauna
Bighorn Sheep
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Light
_____________________
Tortoise Hiking. Stop and smell the Petrichor.
Nov 02 2013
Dave1
avatar

 Routes 29
 Photos 1,548
 Triplogs 1,802

43 male
 Joined Jan 25 2009
 Phoenix, AZ
Deer Creek/Thunder River Loop, AZ 
Deer Creek/Thunder River Loop, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Nov 02 2013
Dave1
Backpack25.75 Miles 8,500 AEG
Backpack25.75 Miles2 Days         
8,500 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Awesome hike! One of my top favorites. The company was as good as the scenery! Thanks for joining me, gentlemen! And thanks for supplying the vehicle, Bruce! I wish we had done this in 3 days though so it wouldn't have been so rushed.
Fauna
Fauna
Bighorn Sheep
Culture
Culture
Campsite
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Light
_____________________
Nov 02 2013
PrestonSands
avatar

 Guides 168
 Routes 149
 Photos 5,534
 Triplogs 1,317

42 male
 Joined Apr 12 2004
 Oro Valley, AZ
Deer Creek/Thunder River Loop, AZ 
Deer Creek/Thunder River Loop, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Nov 02 2013
PrestonSands
Backpack25.75 Miles 8,500 AEG
Backpack25.75 Miles2 Days         
8,500 ft AEG35 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Partners partners
Dave1
The_Eagle
Tortoise_Hiker
After an hour's sleep, I met up with Dave, Bruce and Denny in Camp Verde in the middle of the night (morning?), then crawled into the Brucemobile for the long journey to the North Rim. The sun rose as we crossed the Colorado River, turning the Vermillion Cliffs...vermillion. Quite a sight. After a breakfast stop in Jacobs Lake, we headed into the wild woods on slightly snowy back roads, encountering several turkeys and a couple of "you shore got a purdy mouth" boys along the way. Dave led the way into the Canyon on the Bill Hall Trail...

The four of us descended to the broad red rock country of the Esplanade, with its Sedona like feel. We stashed water for the return hike before our big drop through the Redwall. It was a big drop indeed down jumbled blocks of massive landslide debris to the floor of desolate Surprise Valley, which looked like it would be HOT :sweat: during the summer. We searched for and found a little mesquite tree to cool off under and eat lunch, before continuing onto Deer Creek.

As we dropped into Deer Creek canyon, the sound of a waterfall greeted us below massive Redwall cliffs. Deer Spring poured out of a hole in a cliff. We cooled off and reloaded on water at the base of the falls, enjoying a little piece of paradise. Deer Creek itself started off beautiful and grew to jaw-dropping-amazing as we entered Deer Creek Narrows. I was blown away by the Narrows with its slot canyon and waterfalls. After a brief search, we found a route down to the base of enormous Deer Creek Falls, on the shores of the Colorado River. A beautiful and impressive waterfall, to say the least. :o We backtracked a bit to the beginning of the Narrows, and began our off trail journey up the Colorado River at dusk. A couple hours later we reached Tapeats Creek and our camp for the night. Mountain House never tasted better. Much needed sleep came quickly. :zzz:

Sunday morning dawned and we were on our way, making a steep climb up the western wall of Tapeats Canyon. High above the creek, we contoured along above the cliffs into a deep gorge of overwhelming scenic beauty, where a ribbon of whitewater snaked its way through a never ending series of red rock walls. I filled one memory card on my camera, then loaded another. Our route involved crossing the swift, chilly waters of Tapeats Creek a couple of times, which we did with care.

Two miles up Tapeats Creek, we reached its confluence with the thundering Thunder River. One last creek crossing and we began ascending Thunder River's course to its source. Aptly named Thunder Spring greeted us amidst a lush, leafy green canopy, below a sheer cliff of Redwall Limestone. We rested here awhile, enjoying the impossible beauty. Dave and I attempted unsuccessfully to reach the cave where the spring flowed out of. It was possible, but the move from one ledge to another over open air seemed too risky. We continued on, reaching Surprise Valley once again, where we fueled up for our push through the Redwall cliffs. Gerhardt, the German hiker we had met the day before, joined us for lunch.

Up the cliff and across the Esplanade once more, where we retrieved our water stash and rested for he final push to the North Rim. A lone bighorn sheep atop a cliff watched us for some time as we trudged up the Bill Hall Trail. The setting sun turned the Kaibab Limestone from white to gold as we crested Monument Point, exhausted. A short time later we arrived at the trailhead at dusk. A change of clothes and were racing down the back roads toward Jacobs Lake Lodge, where we enjoyed a well deserved, delicious post-hike dinner. Best burger I've had in a while.

Following dinner, four dead-tired zombies climbed back into the Brucemobile, and sped south into the night for home. An amazing, unforgettable, and perfect trip. I had a blast with you guys! :D :D :D Thank you for organizing this epic adventure, Dave! :worthy:
Geology
Geology
Stromatolites
Culture
Culture
Humor
Named place
Named place
Bridgers Knoll
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Light
_____________________
"I'm going for a coffee, but you never know when a hike might break out." -Jim Gaffigan
Jun 05 2013
toddak
avatar

 Guides 8
 Routes 5
 Photos 1,071
 Triplogs 399

54 male
 Joined Nov 15 2005
 Puhoynix, AZ
Bill Hall TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 05 2013
toddak
Hiking27.00 Miles 6,500 AEG
Hiking27.00 Miles   18 Hrs      1.50 mph
6,500 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Hard to keep track of all the incredible springs, falls and cascades of cool, crystal clear water on this killer loop. Dawn start, then took lots of long breaks at all the good water and shade spots along the way, so the climb out was in the late afternoon and evening. A bit hot on the high bypass segment along the CO River, but the route there is well defined.
Named place
Named place
Deer Creek Tapeats Creek
_____________________
average hiking speed 1.5 mph
1, 2  Next

WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

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