Thursday, December 7, 2017

November in the Grand Canyon

This year Mom, Dad, and I met Jacob in Jacob Lake, AZ to go backpacking along the Bill Hall Trail on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  After and early flight to Las Vegas and a long drive through the Arizona Strip, we were happy to get out of the car and head into the Grand Canyon.

Last year we went on the same backpacking trip, but this year was a bit different.  Last year we drove through old snow to get to the rim, this year was probably the hottest weather we've had in the Canyon around Thanksgiving.  This year, Jacob was the only one in Flagstaff, so three of us were excited to see him.  And this year, we started into the Canyon on Thanksgiving.  We usually spend Thanksgiving below the rim, but this year Thanksgiving was on Mom's birthday which made it extra special!

We spent 3 night below the rim this year as we hiked the Thunder River/Deer Creek loop.  The lollipop loop drops off the North Rim and splits about 5 miles in.  We spent the first night on the Esplanade before the junction.  We were planning to go a bit further, but ran out of time because of our late start and the approaching darkness.

After the junction the trail turns down the Thunder River drainage to the Colorado River.  The trail follows the Colorado River for about 5 miles taking before arriving at the Deer Creek drainage.  We spend our second night here.

After Deer Creek the trail climbs up out of the Deer Creek drainage before rejoining the main Bill Hall trail.  Then the trail climbs back up the Esplanade and continues out of the canyon.  We spent our third night on the Esplanade not far from we're we camped on day 1.

The loop is around 30 miles, but over rough terrain.  With short winter days and a few side trips, we ended up hiking for nearly all of the daylight hours.

Starting into the Canyon on a sunny afternoon

A bit of smoky haze over the Canyon

Mom hiking down to the Esplanade

Almost down to the Esplanade

Mom and Dad traversing some cool slick rock

All the slick rock makes me think of Moab

Jacob in the dying light

Sometime the slick rock just changes color

Looking back up the second day's first descent

Looking down the Thunder River drainage

Mom on the trail, far below

Thunder River coming right out of the wall

Truly an oasis in the desert

The Colorado

Mom starting the walk along the river

Dad and Jacob

We didn't see anybody from about here out.  Yup, that's well over 1.5 days with no one but ourselves

Jacob on the climb into Deer Creek

Hiking along the river doesn't necessarily mean flat

Deer Creek

A dry lakebed above Deer Creek.  This was really cool

At the lake

Deer Creek Canyon, we headed down this to get to the Colorado.  There's a trail the whole way.

Almost to the River

Deer Creek Falls

You may be able to spot a fish here....or it might just look like water.  I can't see the fish in the picture, but there were few swimming around shortly before Deer Creek met the Colorado

Climbing back up from the river

Climbing with packs, always more fun

Steep climbing with packs, even more fun

Looking back toward Deer Creek drainage

Well, this hill was a little slower going up that coming down

Dad's last view of the Colorado

Back to the slick rock

Another sunset...pretty cool for us Oregonians

Heavy clouds for AZ, we call this sunny back home

Well, it was another great trip in the canyon.  The rugged beauty of the Southwest is truly amazing.  I love the wet Pacific Northwest, but there's nothing like a trip the Grand Canyon in November.  In my opinion its the best time to go.  Dry weather and moderate temperatures in the canyon.

And sorry its taken me a while to get these photos up.  When we got back to Oregon after our Thanksgiving trip, I had these pesky things called finals to deal with.  You have to study for them and it takes an amazing amount of your time.  Fortunately I finished up my three finals yesterday so now I have a few weeks off.

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