Thursday, December 15, 2016

Thanksgiving in the Grand Canyon

The last few years we've spent Thanksgiving break backpacking in the Southwest.  This year we headed to the north rim of the Grand Canyon.  As always the Canyon offered spectacular views, but this time we were so far from any place I knew, it seemed like a totally different place.  Our parents flew in on Wednesday and after class was over for the day we drove up to Cliff Dwellers Lodge and spent the night.  Wednesday was Mom's birthday, so it was nice to see her on her special day!  Thursday morning we drove through Jacob Lake and to the Bill Hall trailhead and headed into the Canyon.  We headed down to the Esplanade and took in some amazing views looking out over the canyon.  Soon we dropped off the Esplanade and made our way down toward Thunder River.  Thunder River was probably the most amazing geologic feature that I've ever seen.  (All that water you see in the pictures below is coming straight out of the rock.)  After hiking past Thunder River, we continued down the river to where it meets Tapeats Creek.  After following the creek for half a mile, we reached the campsite and set up the tent.

Thunder River, coming right out of the rock

Tapeats Creek
The next morning we continue down Tapeats Creek to the Colorado River.  The trail was a little rough through this section but far better than the trip repot Mom read made it out to be.  Upon reaching the Colorado we had a quick snack before following the river downstream to Deer Creek.  Hiking along the river was pretty cool and really gives you an appreciation for how large and powerful the river is.  The trail would follow the river closely when it could, but there were a few rugged ascents and descents along the way.  The trail climbs up from the Colorado before reaching Deer Creek, so we came into Deer Creek about a mile above the river.  We found a tent site near the creek, set up camp, and enjoyed the evening.


Farther down Tapeats  Creek

The Colorado River

Where Tapeats Creek meets the Colorado

Saturday morning we headed down Deer Creek to the confluence with the Colorado River.  The trail followed a ledge along an ever deeper canyon before it peeled away from Deer Creek and switchbacked down to the river.  Upon reaching the river we headed back toward the base of Deer Creek falls and took in the view.  After spending some time by the river, we climbed back up Deer Creek, grabbed our packs, and headed up toward Surprise Valley.  After we reached Surprise Valley, we continued the climb up to the Esplanade.  We had cached water here at the beginning of our trip, but with a potential snow storm rolling in that night, we decided to head out.  We only had 2.5 miles to the rim so we decided to finish the trip a day early and spend the night in the hotel.  Mom had read a few trip report where people had to leave their car on the north rim for the winter because of a snow storm so we didn't want that to be us!  The final climb out of the canyon lead to some beautiful evening view, including one of the most stunning sunsets I've ever seen.  Fortunately, I neglected to charge my camera before the trip so it had died just a few hours earlier.  Once we got to the rim, we drove back to Cliff Dwellers Lodge and enjoyed a hot shower and a good night's sleep.

Deer Creek

Deer Creek Falls

Climbing up Surprise Valley

Looking back over Surprise Valley

Back on the Esplanade

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