April 19, 2004 - Grand Canyon - 5 Days
South Kaibab - Hermit
With this link from the South Kaibab Trail to the Hermit Trail, we have now completed stitching together our journey from the Little Colorado to Hermit's Rest. This was an enjoyable trip, with plenty of water available each day along the way, and with easy (easy is a relative term in this case) access to the Colorado River.
Day 1 - We started down the South Kaibab Trail at 7:31 AM, under partly cloudy skies, and with a temperature of 26 F. Reaching Cedar Ridge at 8:20 AM, we took a short break before continuing. The South Kaibab Trail offers some spectacular views, including a good overview of Phantom Ranch. At the Tonto Trail junction, we took a break from 10:30 AM until 11:10 AM to rest our feet and use the restrooms, and then resumed our journey on the Tonto West. Along the Tonto, water was flowing at both Burro Spring and Pipe Spring. We arrived at Indian Garden campground at 2:30 PM. It was quite warm by that time, and we were happy to shed our packs and relax for the rest of the day. We found a nice campsite near the Bright angel trail, hung our packs on the poles provided for that purpose, and used the ammo cans for our food. Around dusk, we were visited by deer, casually feeding as they walked through the campground, paying little attention to the campers around them. We had gotten one of the few remaining campsites. Shortly after, some hikers with reservations we unable to find an open site and checked with the ranger. He found a couple without a permit occupying a site, and sent them packing.
Day 2 - When we hit the trail at 7:40 AM, the temperature was 50 F. We stopped at Horn Creek from 9:00 until 9:45, and chatted with a couple of fellow Rhode Islanders, Ed and Denise from Richmond. We stopped for lunch at 11:35, about one half mile before Salt Creek Camp, and resumed hiking at 12:36. At 2:45, we reached our destination at Cedar Creek, and looked for a campsite. At first, it was not obvious where to camp, but we walked a bit further West from the Salt Creek sign, and found a couple of good spots. There was a water seep downstream, and we pumped four liters of water.
Day 3 - With a short day ahead of us, we slept in and broke camp at 8:40 AM with a temperature of 60 F. We passed Monument Camp at 9:40, and reached the Colorado River at Hermit Rapids at 10:40. We watched a private river trip from Aspen go through the rapids. They had gotten a cancellation, and planned their trip with 30 days notice. There was a young couple on their honeymoon camped at the beach when we arrived, but they were moving on that afternoon. The woman said that a squirrel had chewed through their tent and into their packs. I remained vigilant, and chased a squirrel away from our tent several times until the critter finally gave up. Around 6 PM, three young hikers showed up and camped at the far end of the beach. They had hiked in from Hermit's Rest, and looked pretty beat.
Day 4 - It was so pleasant at the River, we decided to lounge around for most of the day, and hike out late in the afternoon. During the day, an OARS trip with rafts and dories came through. The Trip Leader was Robby Pitagora, who led the trip we took in 1996, and we have run into him a couple of times in the Canyon since then. After the OARS guides and passengers (including one movie star) scouted out the rapids, we watched them go through without mishap. We packed up and hit the trail at 3:30 PM, getting to the Tonto at 4:30. We reached the Hermit Trail junction at 5:55, reached the campsites at 6:30, and set up as it was getting dark. There was lots of flowing water available at the campsites, ammo cans for our food, and a privy.
Day 5 - We packed up in the dark, and were on the trail at 4:40 AM, hiking with our headlamps. We reached the Hermit Trail junction at 5:00, and took a 15 minute break before moving on. At 6:35, we reached the top of the Cathedral, and stopped for breakfast. We resumed hiking at 7:10, and reached Santa Maria Spring at 9:45. There is plenty of water available in a trough that the spring empties into, but it was a bit green from the algae. Resting for half an hour, we resumed hiking at 10:15 and reached Hermit's Rest at 12:20. We bought a couple of ice cream bars at the Hermit Rest snack bar, and waited for the bus to take us to our car parked near the Bright Angel Lodge.
Our plans for next year are for a rim-to-rim in October, North to South.
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