Last weekend Jacob and I left Flagstaff on a beautiful Friday morning and headed to the Grand Canyon. I don't have class of Friday and Jacob gets out at 8:50 so we took the opportunity to head over to Desert View and start down the Tanner Trail. We'd never been to this part of the Canyon before, outside of spending a cold November morning on the rim by the watchtower a few years ago with my parent over Thanksgiving, so we were stoked to see what this section of the Canyon looked like. We rolled into Lipan Point parking lot a little after 12:30 (later than we hoped but we needed to get a parks pass at REI - a great $80 investment), got our stuff together and took off down the Tanner Trail around 12:45. The first couple miles of trail was steep and rugged and since no fastpacking had happened over the last few months, the packs felt a bit cumbersome. Anyhow, the day brought bright blue skies and near perfect temperature as we descended.
|Looking down from high on the Tanner Trail|
|A couple miles into the descent|
|Looking back up from just above the river|
|A muddy river this trip (This is because of a recent release of water from the Glen Canyon Dam to simulate the traditional flooding)|
|Looking upriver toward the Palisades of the Desert|
|Rolling red hills|
|Palisades of the Desert|
|Following the Escalante Route|
|Time to camp!|
|Looking back along the Escalante Route. The trail follows the ridge just behind the cliffs above the right side of the river.|
|Rockier terrain to the west (downriver)|
|Looking back at the smooth rolling hills up river|
|Cresting a ridge before dropping down the river|
|Looking back up the canyon we descended to the river|
|Leaving the Colorado|
|Heading up 75-mile Canyon|
|Where the Escalante Route crosses 75-mile Canyon|
|Looking back down 75-mile Canyon|
Over two hour after leaving the Escalante Route, we hit a steep pitch that was a trick to scramble up. I went ahead and saw that our route was going to be more of the same which would really slow down progress. At this point, we'd realized that we weren't going to be able to climb out of 75-mile Canyon as we had intended (a big cliff was in the way) so we decided to head back down the canyon and hike out the New Hance Trail.
|Some more rafters|
|The New Hance Trail takes off up the red canyon just emerging around the corner on the left side of the river|
|Above a steep rock field that drops down to the river|
We had hope we would have to head up the New Hance Trail because it looked to be 4-5 miles away from the Tanner Trail which would mean a short run on the road, but that wasn't the worst predicament so we headed back down 75-mile Canyon. We filled up at the bottom and then continued along the Escalante Route. This was the most rugged section of the route so it took us a while longer than we had intended. As it was we reached the New Hance Trail after while after 3 and began our slog to the rim.
|Starting up the New Hance Trail|
|Jacob ascending the New Hance|
|Looking back down Red Canyon. The trail is visible on the nearest hillside (we didn't use that section of trail).|
|Looking back down Red Canyon|
|The last of the loose red rock of Red Canyon|
|Jacob leading the charge|
|Looking out over the canyon|
|Kind of close to the top|
|Just so big, its always inspiring|
|One of a few evening shots|
|We were lucky to get some amazing lighting this time of day|
|A little dark now|
As you guessed, we finished second place to darkness so with over a mile(best guess) to go we entered some dark times. Actually, it wasn't bad at the start and the crickets played a pleasant melody to accompany our climb. Unfortunately, the New Hance isn't a highway like the corridor trails, so we soon found ourselves looking for cairns and double checking we were still on route. The darkness grew deeper and eventually we lost the trail. This sucked! There so many cliffs in the Grand Canyon, you can't just head straight uphill because you'd almost certainly find your way blocked by 100+ foot tall cliffs. Anyhow, after 5 minutes or so, we managed to re-find the trail and kept plugging away. The rest of the adventure was pretty mundane: we got lost two more time for a minute or two, kicked a lot of rocks, and reached the trailhead. At this point it was 7:45, so pretty dark, and I took off along the road to get the car. We had no headlight, so every time a car came by, I'd hop in the ditch and cover my eyes to protect my night vision. I made decent time but the sparse flow of traffic slowed things down a bit. After a half hour of running I'd realized that it was definitely more than 4-5 miles to Lipan Point. It was a pleasant night, but when a car slowed and offered a ride, I was more than happy to accept. I quickly reached Lipan Point, thanked the driver and occupants, and headed back to pick up Jacob.
With Jacob in the car, we decided not to head back to Flagstaff, instead eating some dried beans in the parking lot by the watchtower. This was great as we were able to boil some water and enjoy a nice meal! Then we headed out of the park, and pulled off on the first forest service road available. Some quick arranging and it was time to hit the sack!
|Settling down for a nice winter nap|
|No better place to camp!|