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Grand adventure in the Grand Canyon

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Offline Cookie

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Grand adventure in the Grand Canyon
« on: June 07, 2018, 03:35:46 PM »
DSC04263 by Cookie, on Flickr

(written by El Hombre, illustrated by Cookie)

I wanted to share some sweet eye candy from a trip we did as a family over April to the Grand Canyon.  If you can comfortably do the OML in BB, then backpacking in the Grand Canyon should be no problem at all.  We have done the main "corridor" a few times now, but this trip included backpacking in the zone areas to the east.  I will describe the 3 days zone camping mostly because everybody can easily learn about the "corridor" backpacking from any web site.  While researching the trip, I found that there was not much info out there to answer some questions. It seems most people who write about hiking in the Grand Canyon do it all the time, so they write like veterans, and leave out some details.
 
Things I learned that weren't easily researched.  First, the taxi service in the park is easy to use and cheap.  Picked us up in 10 minutes after the call.  $40 including tip to take all 4 of us with backpacks from Back County office/parking lot to the Grandview trail head.  25 minute ride.  Second, we elected to use the mule service and haul a duffle bag down to Phantom ranch.  It met us down there on the 4th day.  $70  #30 max.  Used Bear Vaults to keep the rats out of the food while in storage.  The people on the phone who take duffle bag reservation don't know squat about how it works.  They didn't know a person can leave supplies at the livery to be delivered later.  They didn't know about dropping the supplies off to be delivered at a later date.  We were able to drop our stuff off the morning we caught the taxi to the trail head.  The girl who checked in our duffle bag said they hold on to supplies all the time for delivery at a later date. There is a serious communication problem between the two groups.
 
Our trip consisted of 6 nights below the rim.  We started at Grandview point, which is 25 minutes from the south rim tourist trap, and spent 3 nights hiking back towards the main "corridor".  We then slept 2 nights at Bright Angel established campground at the bottom of the canyon. With the last night at Indian Gardens on the way out.  The 3 of us flew in Vegas, rented a car, and picked up my friend from the airport for the drive out to the park.  Easily made it in time for the sunset, leaving the Vegas REI around 12:30.
 
First day's hike map

Day1map by Cookie, on Flickr
 
Camped at the designated campsites at Horseshoe Mesa.  The spots are NOT assigned but you still need to get the permit for the camp.  We stayed at the group campsite away from everyone else, and had our own pooper.  There is a spring below the mesa that many people use for water, but it is about a 900 feet elevation loss; Miner's Spring.  We elected to haul enough water down with us for the first day and breakfast, and used the saved time and energy for exploring.  The extra 3/4 gallon of water was worth the effort of not going down and back from the spring.  We walked about a mile out to the edge of the mesa for the sunset.

DSC04267 by Cookie, on Flickr

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campsite on Horseshoe Mesa:
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Day 2 map

Day2map by Cookie, on Flickr
 
In the morning, we needed to get off the mesa in order to hook up with the Tonto trail.  The trail was nice, and we were able to get water out of the Cottonwood drainage.  Water ran for about a 1/4 mile down to the intersection with the Tonto trail.  There were many campsites along Cottonwood creek. It would be a nice place to camp if you were not able to get a site on the Horseshoe Mesa.  It's zone camping along the creek.
 
DSC04333 by Cookie, on Flickr

Now begins the common theme of walking the Tonto trail.  The trail stays on the rock formation of the "Tonto group". Thus the name for the trail.  The trail goes from the edge of the canyon where you can look down on to the Colorado River.  Then anytime a drainage flows into the Colorado from the rim, the trail turns and heads back towards the rim. A hiker then crosses the drainage up by the rim wall, and then you walk all the way back out to the Colorado overlook.  You put miles in, but don't really go very far as the peregrine falcon flies.  We walked most of the morning and came to Grapevine drainage around 3:00.  Wind was picking up and rain was in the forecast.  We decide to stop early at Grapevine to secure a protected site, and water was abundant.    Not many sites in Grapevine, but with a little perseverance, we found one that the three other groups never bothered to look for up canyon.  Rookies! Hiker and I went down the drainage towards the Colorado to do some exploring for a few hours.

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tent sites:
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DSC04437 by Cookie, on Flickr
 
to be continued.....

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Offline Jalco

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Re: Grand adventure in the Grand Canyon
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2018, 09:17:10 PM »
More, please  :icon_biggrin:

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Offline Cookie

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Re: Grand adventure in the Grand Canyon
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2018, 11:16:47 AM »
Day 3 map

Day3map by Cookie, on Flickr
 
Woke up to spitting rain and cold wind.  The Front is here.  We packed up and hit he trail.  We could see it snowing up on the rim above us, but it just turned into light rain by the time it got down to us.  Jackets were put on but no one brought rain pants.  So we just kept hiking to stay warm.  It turned out to be one of the most incredible days to be in the canyon.  Weather in the desert can do that for you. Then mix in the canyon, and it truly demonstrated the awesome power of the Creator.

DSC04440 by Cookie, on Flickr

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DSC04480 by Cookie, on Flickr


 
Made it to the Lone Tree drainage and spring around 3:00.   Filled up with water and hoped for the best as we walked back out to the Colorado rim.   We found a place on the topo a few miles away that was big and flat.  Sure as all great days, when we finally made it there, the skys were as blue as it was cloudy.  We decide to scout around for a campsite and I ran across a new friend.  Curly was saving a nice flat spot for us out and away from the trail.  Too bad we didn't have any water for him because he sure looked thirsty.  We kicked out our spots, set up camp, then walked 3/4 of a mile out to the rim for the sunset.  Best camp site of the trip!

DSC04481 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC04484 by Cookie, on Flickr

Curly
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heading to the edge for sunset
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Day 4 map

Day4map by Cookie, on Flickr
 
Slept with the fly off, and woke up to everything wet.  Stupid moisture from the rain yesterday. Dried it out and got going.  Knew real quick it was going to be a hot one.  Trail no longer goes around the drainages.  It goes steeply down and up the sides of them.  Not too bad.  We made it to the main Kaibab trail around lunch.  Plenty of people to share the trail with now.  We make it down to the campground and set up camp.  Over 100 degrees.  Found our duffle bag right where they said it would be.  We watch the sunset on the shore of the Colorado.  Then ate, and headed to the cantina at the Phantom ranch for beers.
 DSC04573 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC04577 by Cookie, on Flickr

Kaibab switchbacks
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at Bright Angel CG
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more to come......Ribbon Falls!!.......

 
« Last Edit: June 14, 2018, 10:53:49 AM by Cookie »

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Offline Jalco

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Re: Grand adventure in the Grand Canyon
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2018, 11:53:24 AM »
I especially liked #4477!

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Offline Cookie

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Re: Grand adventure in the Grand Canyon
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2018, 12:19:55 PM »
I especially liked #4477!

Thanks! Me too! I think I ended up with almost 1000 pictures :icon_eek: the change in the canyon as the front came in and during the rain was really beautiful. Also helped to keep the temperatures down for a bit.

~Cookie

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Grand adventure in the Grand Canyon
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2018, 03:24:16 PM »
Great trip and start to the report.  Looks like typical April weather in the canyon with snow up high and light rain and then hot later down below.  Looking forward to the rest.   :eusa_clap:
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline Talusman

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Re: Grand adventure in the Grand Canyon
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2018, 01:14:53 PM »
Damn. Words don't come. I'm just jelly. Nice.
"To Think is easy. To Act is difficult. To Act as one Thinks is the most difficult!"

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Offline badknees

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Re: Grand adventure in the Grand Canyon
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2018, 01:47:04 PM »
They don't call it Grand for nothing. Thanks for posting....keep it coming
Not all those who wander are lost.
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Offline Cookie

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Re: Grand adventure in the Grand Canyon
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2018, 10:13:06 AM »
Day 5 map

Day5map by Cookie, on Flickr
 
We asked the ranger what would be the best hike to do from Phantom ranch, and he said Ribbon Falls.  12 mile round trip.  The trail follows along the creek the entire way so we just pumped water when we stopped, and dunked our heads in the water to keep cool.

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 Made it to the Falls at just the right time that the sun was illuminating the entire grotto.  Simply a beautiful desert place!  Had it to ourselves the entire 2 hours we were there.  We figured  that not many other people were out because it was so hot. 

DSC04686 by Cookie, on Flickr

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almost back to Phantom Ranch
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Made it back to the camp and sat around in the creek enjoying the rest of the day.

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 Sunset on the river one last time.

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Day 6 hiked up to Indian Gardens.  Went out to the point for sunset. 

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at the campground
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another warm day for hiking
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a favorite sign that people seemed to ignore
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almost to the point
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Listened  to water flowing, dishes banging, and had headlights shine all over the campground by some Chinese visitors.  Apparently 2:00 in the morning is the time to wash clothes and dishes in China.  No one in the campground got much of any sleep because of them.  Clueless!
 
Surprisingly, everyone in the campground was up real early and started their walk up the last 3000 feet. 

one of our family mottos-someone made a sign for us!
DSC04921 by Cookie, on Flickr

We made it to the top in 3 hours.

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DSC04928 by Cookie, on Flickr

 Lunch at the grocery store, and drove back to Vegas for our flight in the morning.
 
As stated earlier, if you can zone camp in Big Bend, then the Grand Canyon is not much harder.  I would dare say it is easier except for the elevation changes.  There is a bunch of water.  Rangers are helpful, and will tell you if the springs are running.  I think the hardest part is getting the permit 5 months in advance through their lottery system.

Hope you enjoyed it!
ElHombre & Cookie

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Offline Cookie

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Re: Grand adventure in the Grand Canyon
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2018, 10:18:44 AM »
Here's a quick video from Ribbon Falls

00000 by Cookie, on Flickr


~Cookie

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Offline Don H

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Re: Grand adventure in the Grand Canyon
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2018, 10:34:59 AM »
That was refreshing.  Looks like an awesome place - Thanks for sharing! :notworthy:
"Rugged isolation in a Jeep with the top down, doors off, sweaty, dusty, listening to your flavor of tunes, immersed in the most beautiful and beguiling desert mountains in all of the Southwest, the Sierra Quemada. Nothing short of spiritual cleansing. " D. Locke

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Offline Cookie

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Re: Grand adventure in the Grand Canyon
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2018, 10:42:18 AM »
That was refreshing.  Looks like an awesome place - Thanks for sharing! :notworthy:

Truly magical.

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Offline alan in shreveport

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Re: Grand adventure in the Grand Canyon
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2018, 10:11:39 PM »
Looks like a memorable trip, and great photos too. I went to school in Arizona and made several trips to the Canyon and dayhiked to the river (and back up) a couple of times - even in my younger days it was quite an effort. Awfully glad I did it though. Been back a couple of times since then but strictly as a tourist - although we didn't do any laundry at 2 am. Some folks just are totally oblivious. Thanks for the report.

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Offline vgeh

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Re: Grand adventure in the Grand Canyon
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2018, 02:53:27 AM »
Thank you for the report and great pictures. Looks like you had great time and experienced both sides of the GC weather. Tell us more about the permit and lottery process. 

My plan to GC this summer got cancelled but I will go in the near future!!

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Grand adventure in the Grand Canyon
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2018, 05:42:18 AM »
Absolutely stunning shots of Ribbon Falls.  120 degrees!  Wow!  The pictures of the climb up from Indian Gardens brings back memories, thanks.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

 


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