April 15, 2002 - Grand Canyon - 6 Days
Day 0 - Sunday - April 14, 2002
Scouting the Tanner Trailhead at dawn the day before our hike, we ran into a young couple doing their first hike into the Canyon. I was surprised when the man asked me if I was Jim Lyons. This was Shawn and Sandra, who we would meet again at Cardenas Creek a couple of days later. They had used my website to plan their trip, and recognized Kathy and me from our pictures. I snapped a photo of them with their camera at the trailhead sign, and took this picture of them with my new Canon S110 digital camera on Lipan Point.
We walked down the trail a bit to see if my hiking sneakers were up to the task. I needed to make a decision on whether to wear my old Vasque Sundowner boots, or to try out the new lightweight sneaker hiking shoes. There was sufficient traction with the sneakers, and I decided to try them on this hike.
After scouting the trail, we headed back to the Cameron Trading Post for breakfast. This year, we tried their deluxe suite instead of their standard room. The suite was impressive, and consisted of two large rooms (living room and bedroom) and a large bath. A really nice place that I would highly recommend.
We took a ride to Tuba city, and then continued on to Lees Ferry. Two rafting groups were preparing their gear for river trips starting the next morning.
We started down the trail at 5:35AM under a partly cloudy sky, with the temperatures in the 40's and a strong wind. The wind would stay strong for the duration of the trip, especially at the River. The first leg of the Tanner from the trailhead to the 75 Mile Saddle is about 1700 feet vertical and about 2 miles in length with all of the switchbacks.
With one rest stop, we reached the 75 Mile Saddle at 7:15 with the temperature now at 55F. Just above the Redwall break, there is a great camping area where we had a snack and enjoyed one of the best views of the river you will find. With a lot of rest stops, we finally made the Tanner Beach at 2:45PM. Subtracting the rest times, the actual hiking time was just over 6 hours.
We set up our Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight tent in the well-worn spot under the bushes just to the downriver side of Tanner Wash. We were the only ones camped on that side of the wash until later that evening when two men decided to camp around 20 feet away from us. With the size of Tanner Delta and no one else around, we wondered why they chose to camp so close.
We watched an OARS trip come through Tanner Rapids with rafts and dories, fighting the wind blowing upriver. Around 6PM, we called it a day and hit the sacks. Shortly after dark, the heavy rain started and we were treated to a rather vigorous display of thunder and lightning.
Day two was an easy day for us. We hung around tanner Beach, and broke up camp around 10AM for our two mile hike over to the Cardenas area. Finding our isolated camping spot showing no signs of use, and exactly as we had left it two years prior, we set up camp and hung around for the most of the day. The 11AM temperature was 65F.
In the late afternoon, we took some water and hiked over towards Unkar. On the way, we again met Shawn and Sandra. They seemed to be having a great time, and we chatted for a while before continuing our walk. we checked out the Cardenas Creek drainage and the rafting group camped there, and returned to our camp.
The night and morning were cool. We loaded our daypacks with food and water around midmorning, and headed up to the Unkar Overlook. We attempted to hike up to the Anasazi ruins, but the wind on the ridge trail was just too strong, so we turned back.
Hiking up further, we reached a nice vantage point where you could see both the Unkar Rapids and also the rapids further downriver. We were also overlooking the Unkar Delta area across the river, and could clearly see the trails and building remains of an old Anasazi settlement.
While we were sitting here, having lunch and enjoying the view, a young man came walking up and stopped to chat. This was Dave from Dayton, Ohio. He had started by going down the Boucher Trail, then downriver to Elves Chasm, and was then continuing along the Tonto Trail, Escalante Route and the Beamer trail to the confluence of the Little Colorado River. He then planned to backtrack, and go out the Tanner trail the day after we were to hike out. We chatted for a while and talked about the trails. He was doing a very ambitious solo hike, but was in great shape and seemed to be enjoying his experience.
Aside from the group still camped at Cardenas, we saw no boats on the river all day.
Another cool night, and a nice morning with no clouds in the sky. We did some exploring around the delta we were camped on, and found a nice long stretch of secluded beach. We took this opportunity to wash our clothes and ourselves. It is truly an experience, not soon to be forgotten, to take a bath in the Colorado River's 48 degree water. Shaving in cold water with Campsuds as shaving cream rates a close second.
Later that afternoon, back at camp, we saw the two rafting groups we had met at Lee's Ferry on Sunday come through. Aside from those boaters, we ran into no other people that day.
It was time to break camp and start heading out. We packed up in the dark and were on the trail at 6AM, with a temperature of 50F. We ate some breakfast bars while hiking, and reached Tanner Beach at 6:50. After topping off our hydration packs, we were heading up Tanner Wash 15 minutes later.
The sun hit us on Asinine Hill at 7:45 but, with the cooler temperatures, was not a problem. We stopped for breakfast at 8:25, and were at the base of the Redwall break at 10:25. We hung out for a wile below the Redwall and resumed around 11:10, getting to the top around noon.
Back up the hill to the overlook, we had a leisurely lunch and resumed our trek at 1:18. We reached our camp at 75 Mile Saddle at 2:45, set up our equipment, and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.
Day 6 - Saturday - April 20, 2002
This was our coldest night in the Canyon, with the temperature hitting freezing just before dawn. With our fleece layers, and down sleeping bags, we were comfortable despite the cold.
Breaking camp, we were on the trail at 8:35, and reached the trailhead at 10:48. We met a group of five men who were hiking down. The lead person was a novice in the Canyon, and quite a distance ahead of the rest of his group. He stopped just above us on the switchbacks, put down his pack, and sent a couple of good-sized rocks tumbling down the hill between Kathy and me. We wasted no time getting uphill of this group. We made the trailhead at 10:48.
After enjoying a couple of cold cans of root beer we had left in the trunk of the car, we headed back to Cameron for some real food.
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