DISTANCE
34.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
9,455 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

walking

beach

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

snow

washed out

no dogs

backpacking
1 month ago

My wife an I arrived at the the Desert View entrance to the Grand Canyon on September 16 at 7 am. I immediately called the Grand Canyon taxi service, and was promptly met at the Grandview trailhead 30 minutes later. He shuttled us to the Tanner trailhead where we began our journey. The temperature at the rim was in the low 60's, but with each step deeper into the canyon, the heat became more noticeable.

The first five miles were fun, but below the Redwall and 100° heat we entered a virtual frying pan. Only by digging very, very deep into our energy reserves did we reach the river. We camped right next to the river at Tanner Beach so we occasionally caught a cool breeze.

We started each day's hike by 5:30 am, using headlamps for a bit before the dawn light showed us the path. We finished each day around 1 pm. While hiking we never passed up a chance to rest in the shade. We carried a topographical map and Delorme GPS - both of which proved valuable as route finding is not to be treated lightly. Cairns are frequently spotted but in the some places the trail is lost in rocks and scree.

Day 2 was a hot, brutal, beautiful trudge, and for some reason Springsteen's "The Ghost of Tom Joad" became my trekking song. We passed Cardenas Beach and doused our shirts with cold river water and refilled our water bags and bottles. We eventually reached the Escalante Creek beach at the Colorado River, where we enjoyed the most beautiful campsite on this trek.

Day 3 was a blast, as we navigated our way through the labyrinth of 75 mile canyon, then over the 30' high Papago wall, a class 3 scramble. Make sure that you don't go too far up the pitch here as we did! We missed the cairns and struggled to find the trail until we backtracked a bit. Fortunately, we prevailed and eventually found the Papago Slide, which was tricky but fun. 30 minutes of moderate walking took us to Red Canyon and Hance Rapids, where we set up camp in the shade. The temperature never dropped below 90° that night, so sleeping was fairly miserable.

The only people we encountered for 3 days were Colorado River rafters, and we did appreciate that they checked to see how we were doing.

We were especially fortunate to have cloud cover on day 4, as we ascended the Tonto 2500 feet to Horseshoe Mesa. A small stream of cool water provided relief at Hance Creek. Page Spring was also a delight. We were hit by a thunderstorm here - and quickly set up our tent and hunkered down for the night, listening to the rain and rocks sliding down the canyon sides.

On day 5 we made the final push back to the rim under clear skies, mostly in the shadows caused by the cliffs. The temperature dropped into the 60's, which felt like Heaven! Carol and I were both overcame with emotion as we reached the end of our journey. I think we have earned the right to be called "advanced" backpackers.