|New Hance to Grandview, AZ|| |
New Hance to Grandview, AZ
|Hiking||24.78 Miles|| 13 Hrs 7 Mns ||2.42 mph|
|5,689 ft AEG|| 2 Hrs 53 Mns Break|
|I have eyed this loop for some time, and in my mind labeled it a "varsity-level" version of the South Kaibab-Bright Angel loop. What a great trip.|
Drove up to Tusayan late Friday afternoon, after picking up my hiking partner in Prescott Valley. The only snag was that there was an accident on I-40, and literally as soon as we merged onto the freeway, it became a parking lot. At one point, the maps app on my phone was saying that the fastest way to get to the point 8 miles east on I-40, was to go back to Prescott, circle over and up I-17 and the drive back on I-40--4.5 hours. Oy!
Luckily, the traffic jam didn't last too long and we made it to our hotel in Tusayan, albeit a bit later than planned.
A short night had us up at 4:30 a.m. Not having hiked New Hance before, I had read that the trail can be particularly indistinct and I didn't want to risk navigating in the dark. So, the plan was to hit the trailhead around 6 am--shortly before sunrise, but with plenty of light. Left the hotel shortly after 5 a.m.
We drove to the Grandview trailhead and then mounted our bikes for the 5.5 mile ride over to the New Hance TH. It was 23 degrees at 5:30 a.m. when we began pedaling under the full moon. Although the ambient temps were cold, the air was still (no wind), so it wasn't bad at all. Luckily, the road from Grandview to New Hance is mostly downhill . Locked the bikes up in the woods and shed some layers, then headed to the rim.
I had tried to call the backcountry office for intelligence on the trail conditions (ice/snow), but it's pretty tough to get through there (or maybe I just have bad luck). I emailed as well, but got no response. I knew it hadn't snowed in a couple of weeks, so I figured the trails wouldn't be too bad, but we brought the microspikes just in case. Only need them for about 1/4 mile at the top of New Hance going down.
We arrived at the rim on New Hance just as the sun was reflecting back from the tops of the east-facing walls of the canyon--a gorgeous view, along with Coronado Butte on full display, with Vishnu Temple staring back from the north side of the Canyon.
The trail turned out to be no problem to follow, though I suppose it might be more challenging to navigate going uphill.
Didn't see a soul until about 2.5 miles in, when we crossed paths with a group who was on day 5 of their backpacking trip, starting from Lipan Point and the Tanner Trail.
Shortly thereafter, we came across another couple who was purportedly hiking out. They were there with a ranger and said they were "about done." I wasn't sure how to interpret that, but based on the ranger's demeanor, she seemed to think they needed more of a kick in the pants, rather than a helicopter.
The ranger asked to see our permits. When we explained that we were just day hiking, and told her our planned route, she wished us well and told us we better get going b/c we had a long day ahead.
Indeed, we had admittedly been lollygagging, taking lots of photos and enjoying the views on the way down. We promised to pick up the pace once we got on the Tonto.
Red Canyon is quite striking. Enjoyed the vivid walls as we made our way to the river. There was actually some water running in Red Canyon.
Hit Hance Rapids after about 3.5 hours, and had the place to ourselves. Some great camping spots on the sandy bluff above the river.
We filtered a liter of water from the river, which was running green, just in case, as our next opportunity would presumably at Hance Creek.
The Tonto was as expected. There is a section where we wandered through a large boulder garden, with the boulders eroded in really strange and cool shapes. On rock had a large, eroded overhang with a tongue sticking out underneath, as if custom made for a shaded seat.
As we wound around Ayer Point and up the Hance Creek drainage, we overtook another group that had begun at Tanner and was making their way several days later to Hance Creek for the night, before exiting the Canyon on our planned route.
We eventually hit Hance Creek, where we filtered another liter and pulled off the shoes and socks to give the feet a bit of a breather.
After a rest, we headed up towards Page Spring, where the climbing begins in earnest. The trail up is steep and rocky. At the turn off for Page Spring, I half-wanted to wander over to see what remained after the roof collapsed a couple of years ago, but my hiking partner wasn't interested and I was happy to conserve the energy as well.
We took breaks at the two major mine entrances and checked them out.
Once on the Mesa, we took the short side trip to Pete Berry's cabin remains. Then from there, the work resumed in earnest to climb out. The traverse along the Cottonwood Creek drainage had several washouts that made navigation a little more taxing. Then, once we reached the cobblestone stairclimbers, we were happy to have our microspokes, and wore them the last couple of miles to the top.
Watching the sunset light up the west-facing walls of the Canyon was a nice bookend to the day. From the top part of Grandview, we could look down and see the Colorado winding its way well off in the distance towards Tanner rapids.
Arrived at the Grandview TH around 6:15 pm, tired but very satisfied.
A quick drive to New Hance to retrieve the bikes, then it was on towards home. Arrived back in the valley a little after 11 pm, happy to have logged another great adventure in this natural wonder of the world!